Eddie Mekka, Carmine on `Laverne & Shirley,' Dies at 69

Roses on Top of Funeral Casket

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Members of the cast of ``Laverne & Shirley'' paid tribute today to co-star Eddie Mekka, who played Carmine Ragusa -- ``The Big Ragu'' -- on the classic sitcom.

Mekka died Saturday at his home in Newhall at age 69, according to Pat Benti, Mekka's friend and classmate at Berklee College of Music.

``It is with deep regret that we share with you the passing of our beloved Eddie Mekka,'' Benti wrote on Facebook.

Mekka played Carmine for the entire run of ``Laverne & Shirley'' from 1976 to 1983 and also appeared on episodes of ``Family Matters,'' ``The Love Boat'' and ``Fantasy Island.'' Mekka was nominated for a Tony Award for his role in ``The Lieutenant.''

As Carmine, Mekka portrayed the high school sweetheart of ``Laverne & Shirley'' co-star Cindy Williams.

``My darling Eddie, a world-class talent who could do it all,'' Williams wrote on Twitter Thursday. ``I love you dearly. I'll miss you so much. But oh the marvelous memories.''

Williams also posted a video of clips from the show featuring Mekka, including several displaying his singing and dancing prowess.

Actor Michael McKeon, who played Lenny on ``Laverne & Shirley,'' remembered Mekka as ``a genuinely good guy and purveyor of cheer whenever things got cheerless.''

Penny Marshall, who played Laverne on the show, died in 2018. David Lander, who portrayed McKeon's pal Squiggy, died last year.

Photo: Getty Images

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