Edward Rudolph Mekjian (June 14, 1952 – November 27, 2021), known professionally as Eddie Mekka, was an American actor, best known for his role as Carmine Ragusa on the hit television sitcom Laverne & Shirley.
Edward Rudolph Mekjian
June 14, 1952
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||November 27, 2021 (aged 69)|
(m. 1983; div. 1992)
Yvonne Marie Grace
Mekka was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Mariam (née Apkarian), a dry cleaning presser, and Vahe Vaughn Mekjian, a factory worker. His family was of Armenian descent. His father was a World War II veteran. He graduated from Burncoat High School and attended the Berklee College of Music.
In the early 1970s, Mekka headed the Worcester County Light Opera in Massachusetts, teaching young people how to sing. After performing on Broadway in The Lieutenant, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award, he moved to Los Angeles. He landed the role of Carmine "The Big Ragoo" Ragusa for Laverne & Shirley in 1976, acting on the series until it was canceled in 1983.
Mekka starred in roughly 50 TV shows and movies throughout his career. His television credits included 24, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Bold and the Beautiful, and as Detective Murdoch in the Fox television movie Catch Me If You Can. He had a small role in the Penny Marshall-directed 1992 film, A League of Their Own as the dance partner of Mae (Madonna) in the bar.
Onstage, he performed in Hairspray at the Luxor in Las Vegas, Nevada, and in a national tour of Grease with Cindy Williams. Mekka returned to off-Broadway theatre on July 15, 2008, starring in Steve Solomon's long-running comedy My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm In Therapy! at the Westside Theatre.
Mekka was married to actress DeLee Lively from 1983 to 1992. He married Yvonne Marie Grace in 1994. Together they had one daughter, Mia.
|1982||Assignment Berlin||Soghomon Tehlirian|
|1992||A League of Their Own||Mae's Guy in Bar|
|1997||Top of the World||Joe Burns|
|2003||Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star||Himself||Cameo|
|2004||Land of the Free?||Jerry|
|2006||The Last Stand||Art|
|2006||Love Made Easy||Mobo|
|2007||Stuck in the Past||Grandpa|
|2008||Dirty Jokes the Movie||Direct-to-video|
|2009||C Me Dance||Lowell|
|2013||Through a Mother's Eyes||Dr. Henry Myer|
|2014||Heaven Help Us||Chuck||Short film|
|2017||Diary of a Lunatic||Mr. Karnofsky|
|2017||Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel||Himself|
|2018||Hail Mary!||Danny Morelli||Final role|
|1976–1983||Laverne & Shirley||Carmine Ragusa||150 episodes|
|1977||Blansky's Beauties||Joey DeLuca||13 episodes|
|1977–1979||Happy Days||Carmine Ragusa||2 episodes|
|1979||Greatest Heroes of the Bible||Uri||Episode: "The Story of Esther"|
|1979–1982||The Love Boat||Bert Brodie / Jason Clark / Stanley Corson / Mike||3 episodes|
|1979–1983||Fantasy Island||Charles / Ken Jason / Johnny Detroit / Wilbur Wilson||3 episodes|
|1981||The 6th Annual Circus of the Stars||Himself (performer)||Television special|
|1982||The 7th Annual Circus of the Stars||Himself (performer)||Television special|
|1989||Moonlighting||Guido Viola||Episode: "In 'N Outlaws"|
|1989||True Blue||Elvis fanatic||Episode: "Oldies, But Goodies"|
|1990||Mulberry Street||Vincent Savoia||Television pilot|
|1990||The Munsters Today||Mr. Sweetzer||Episode: "The Reel Munsters"|
|1990–1994||Family Matters||Mr. Nutting / Charlie||2 episodes|
|1992–1993||Guiding Light||Grady||Unknown episodes|
|1993||Taking the Heat||Barbaro||Television film|
|1994||The Rockford Files: I Still Love L.A.||Gus||Television film|
|1994||California Dreams||Uncle Frank||Episode: "Harley and the Marlboro Man"|
|1995||Dream On||Mel||Episode: "Significant Author"|
|1995||The Laverne & Shirley Reunion||Himself||Television special|
|1996||Weird Science||Tommy Svachino||Episode: "Men in Tights"|
|1997||The Big Easy||Joey LaVern||Episode: "Heavenly Body"|
|1998||The Jamie Foxx Show||Danny||Episode: "It's All Good, Fellas"|
|1998||Sunset Beach||Summons Process Server||2 episodes|
|1998||Deadly Game||Det. Murdoch||Television film|
|2002||Power Rangers Wild Force||Don||Episode: "The Tornado Spin"|
|2002||Laverne & Shirley: Together Again||Himself||Television special|
|2005||The Bold and the Beautiful||Las Vegas Minister||2 episodes|
|2006||24||Ned||Episode: "Day 5: 7:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m."|
|2006||It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia||Bobby Thunderson||Episode: "Hundred Dollar Baby"|
|2007||Crossing Jordan||James Talbot||Episode: "Shattered"|
|2007||The Suite Life of Zack & Cody||Western Director||Episode: "The Suite Life Goes Hollywood: Part 2"|
|2008||Pastor Greg||FJ||2 episodes|
|2008||ER||Jenkins||Episode: "Under Pressure"|
|2011||The Young and the Restless||Bud||2 episodes|
|2012||Childrens Hospital||Frankie||Episode: "Wisedocs"|
- Gates, Anita (5 December 2021). "Eddie Mekka, a Star of 'Laverne & Shirley,' is Dead at 69". The New York Times.
- Smith, Kat (February 22, 2013). "Eddie Mekka: One-Man Show". Naples Illustrated. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- O'Donnell, Monica M. (September 1985). Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. ISBN 9780810302419.
- Kappes, Serena (February 4, 2003). "Former 'Laverne & Shirley' star Eddie Mekka still singing, dancing". CNN. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- Duckett, Richard (February 16, 2011). "Young love led Eddie Mekka to Worcester County Light Opera stage". Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- Lawler, Sylvia (May 22, 1993). "MEKKA HAUNTED BY HIS 'LAVERNE & SHIRLEY' CHARACTER". The Morning Call. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
- Dillon, Nancy (December 19, 2018). "Penny Marshall was a generous mentor to 'Laverne & Shirley' co-star who played Carmine 'The Big Ragu' Ragusa". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
- Fitzgerald, TJ (July 8, 2008). "Mekka The Big Ragu Gets Therapy in The Big Apple". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved July 8, 2008.
- Wong, Wilson (2 December 2021). "Eddie Mekka, 'Laverne & Shirley' actor, dies at 69". NBC News. Retrieved 3 December 2021.
- Jones, Kenneth (March 28, 2006). "Paul Vogt and Eddie Mekka Are New Stars of Las Vegas Hairspray on May 1". Playbill. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- Ehren, Christine (June 16, 2000). "Laverne & Shirley"'s Williams & Mekka Star in Westbury Grease June 16–18". Playbill. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- Potempa, Philip (December 3, 2010). "'Laverne & Shirley' star Eddie Mekka here to star in hit Broadway musical". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- Gans, Andrew (October 31, 2008). ""Laverne & Shirley" Stars Williams and Mekka to Reunite for It Had to Be You". Playbill. Retrieved October 31, 2008.
- Byrne, Terry (May 27, 2014). "Song-and-dance man Eddie Mekka back on familiar turf". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- O'Connell, Joe (October 13, 2008). "Shortcake and the Big Ragu Invade Lakeway!". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- Hetrick, Adam (May 6, 2010). "Eddie Mekka Leads Fiddler on the Roof at Engeman Theater". Playbill. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- Jacobson, Aileen (May 7, 2010). "God and Family, and the Changes to Come". The New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- Wardr, Tommy (January 22, 2012). "R-JENERATION: Performing a family affair for actor Eddie Mekka". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- "Eddie Mekka, 'Laverne & Shirley's' Carmine Ragusa, Dies at 69". Extra. 1 December 2021. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
- "Eddie Mekka, 'Laverne & Shirley' Star and Tony Award Nominee, Dies at 69". The Hollywood Reporter. 2 December 2021.