‘Laverne & Shirley’ actor Eddie Mekka dies at 69

Image via Henderson Productions

Eddie Mekka, veteran star of the stage and screen, has died at the age of 69. The multi-talented performer, who rose to fame in the 1970s through Happy Days spinoff Laverne & Shirley, passed away on Nov. 27 at his home in Newhall, California, as revealed by friend and fellow Berklee College of Music alum Pat Benti in a tribute post on Facebook.

In his post, Benti requested that any inquires about Mekka’s death “be withheld during his family’s time of grief”, however, he did welcome fans to “share your memories of Eddie and your condolences to his family on his fan page.” He concluded, “Rest In Peace Eddie. We had some fun.”

R.I.P. Big Ragu: It is with deep regret that we share with you the passing of our beloved Eddie Mekka . Eddie passed…

Posted by Pat Benti on Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Mekka is most known for a generation as Carmine, the Tony Bennett-loving crooner boyfriend of Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams) on Laverne & Shirley, which ran from 1976-1983. His fame and popularity from that role ensured he remained a fixture on American television in the decades since, appearing in guest or recurring spots on countless other hit series, such as 24, ER and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Away from the screen, Mekka enjoyed a prolific career on stage, with the highlight being his run on The Lieutenant on Broadway, which earned him a Tony Award and directly led to his Laverne casting. He later took part in revivals of Hairspray, Fiddler on the Roof and Grease opposite Cindy Williams.

Mekka’s passing comes a year after the loss of his Laverne & Shirley co-star David Lander, who played Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman. Actress and director Penny Marshall, who played Laverne DeFazio, also died in 2018. This leaves Williams and Michael McKean (Lenny Kosnowski) as the only two surviving members of the main cast of the series. Alongside Robin Williams vehicle Mork & Mindy, Laverne & Shirley was one of the most successful of the seven spinoffs Happy Days spawned.

He is survived by his wife Yvonne and daughter Mia.