By CBSBoston.com Staff

WORCESTER (CBS) – Eddie Mekka, the Worcester native who made it to Hollywood as part of the cast of the hit TV show “Laverne & Shirley,” has died. He was 69 years old.

Mekka was born in Worcester in June 1952, graduated from Burncoat High School in 1970 and went to Berklee College of Music in Boston. The news of his death was posted on Mekka’s Facebook page late Wednesday night, saying he “passed away peacefully in his Newhall, California home on Saturday, November 27, 2021.” There is no word yet on a cause of death.

Mekka played Carmine Ragusa, better known as “The Big Ragu” on “Laverne & Shirley,” which ran on ABC from 1976 and 1983. Carmine was Shirley’s boyfriend on the series and was known for his singing and the line, “You know I’d go from rags to riches!”

In a tweet Thursday, co-star Cindy Williams who played Shirley, said Mekka was a “world-class talent who could do it all.” She included a video highlight reel of Mekka from the show.

Mekka was also in the films “A League of Their Own” and “Dreamgirls,” according to his IMDb page.

According to the New York Post, he got his start at the Worcester County Light Opera as a voice instructor before landing his first major role in 1975, in Broadway’s “The Lieutenant.” He was nominated for a Tony for that role and a year later he joined “Laverne & Shirley.”

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported that Mekka “occasionally returned to Worcester to appear in shows, including playing Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” at the former Foothills Theatre in 1999.”

Mekka leaves behind a wife and a daughter.

CBSBoston.com Staff