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Eddie Mekka (1952–2021), played Carmine on “Laverne & Shirley”

by Linnea Crowther

Eddie Mekka was an actor who played Carmine “The Big Ragoo” Ragusa on “Laverne & Shirley.”

Acting career

“Laverne & Shirley” was Mekka’s first major on-screen role. “The Big Ragoo” was Shirley’s off-and-on boyfriend, a dancer and singer as well as former Golden Gloves boxing champion. Mekka’s character crossed over to “Happy Days” on multiple episodes, and he also appeared as a different character on the short-lived “Happy Days” spin-off “Blansky’s Beauties.” Mekka had many other TV credits, including “Moonlighting,” “Guiding Light,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and “The Young and the Restless.” On the big screen, he made a brief but memorable appearance in “A League of Their Own,” jitterbugging with Madonna’s character in a bar. Mekka also ad a small role in “Dreamgirls.” Prior to his TV fame, Mekka was Tony-nominated for Best Actor for his Broadway performance in “The Lieutenant.” He had other stage roles in “Hairspray” in Las Vegas and in a national tour of “Grease.”

Notable quote

“I’ve always been a song and dance man…Gene Kelly…Tony Bennett…I’m from the old fashioned school where you had to learn how to sing and dance and act and be funny. You couldn’t just walk onto a television program overnight and then learn how to act. I’m from the old school where you had to learn it all first. Then you go out into the world and pay your dues. You did it the right way…that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” —from a 2012 interview for Media Mikes

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