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Laverne & Shirley star Eddie Mekka dead at 69

Laverne & Shirley star has Eddie Mekka died at the age of 69.

The actor was most famous for playing Carmine Ragusa on the hit television sitcom.

His brother Warren Mekjian confirmed the news to TMZ on Thursday. The actor is said to have been found dead at his home in Newhall, California, on Saturday.

Per the report, friends and neighbors have become concerned over Mekka, after they hadn’t heard from him in a few days.

Dearly departed: Laverne & Shirley star has Eddie Mekka died at the age of 69; pictured 2003

After neighbors decided to call the police, officers arrived at his home to check on him. 

His brother also said that Mekka had been hospitalized for blood cots and could barely walk prior to his death, and there is no indication that his death was suspicious or that foul play was involved. 

Mekka is survived by his daughter Mia, whom he shared with his second wife Yvonne Marie Grace. 

In a Facebook statement his friend Pat Benti requested that ‘inquiries’ about his death ‘be withheld during his family’s time of grief and mourning.’ 

Seen onscreen: Mekka played Carmine, the boyfriend of Cindy Williams' character Shirley; he is pictured alongside Penny Marshall who played Laverne

Seen onscreen: Mekka played Carmine, the boyfriend of Cindy Williams’ character Shirley; he is pictured alongside Penny Marshall who played Laverne

On Laverne & Shirley he plays Shirley’s on-off boyfriend Carmine, whom she first became involved with as a high school sweetheart. 

Carmine is a singer nicknamed ‘The Big Ragoo’ who adores Tony Bennett and eventually lands a gig in Hair on Broadway.

As well as appearing on that program, Mekka also appeared on TV hits such as Fantasy Island and The Love Boat, and then later on the ABC hit Family Matters. 

Mekka was perfectly primed to play a singer himself, having been musically trained with an education at the Boston Conservatory.

TV stardom: Mekka appeared throughout the eight-season run of Laverne & Shirley which premiered in 1976 and was canceled in 1983

TV stardom: Mekka appeared throughout the eight-season run of Laverne & Shirley which premiered in 1976 and was canceled in 1983

Eventually he made it onto Broadway starring in The Lieutenant, a 1975 rock opera about a soldier in Vietnam who gets court martialed, and getting a Tony nomination.

Years later he told the Boston Globe that ‘I’m glad I was trained in the theater because I think TV makes you lazy. You can always do another take in a film or on TV, while onstage you have to deliver 100 percent all the time.’

However he did acknowledge that ‘It was harder to adjust from stage to TV’ and that Laverne & Shirley’s co-creator and director Garry Marshall had to help him.

‘I was acting for the back row, and [director] Garry Marshall told me to pull it back to Cleveland,’ Mekka explained.

Remember when: The series was a spin-off of Happy Days, and while he was on it Mekka also featured on a flop Happy Days spin-off called Blansky's Beauties (pictured)

Remember when: The series was a spin-off of Happy Days, and while he was on it Mekka also featured on a flop Happy Days spin-off called Blansky’s Beauties (pictured)

Mekka appeared throughout the eight-season run of Laverne & Shirley which premiered in 1976 and was canceled in 1983.

Garry’s sister Penny Marshall, who played Laverne, become ‘like a mentor’ to Mekka, he revealed after her death.

‘Sitcoms are completely different from Broadway. She helped me over the hurdles. She told me there were three cameras, and that meant three audiences,’ he said.

He told the New York Daily News: ‘She taught me how to not look in the camera because that would kill the whole concept. She taught me how to be on my mark. She told me: “You don’t have to be so animated. Pull it back to Cleveland!”‘

The series was a spin-off of Happy Days, and while he was on it Mekka also featured as another character on a flop Happy Days spin-off called Blansky’s Beauties.

After his years of TV stardom Mekka returned to his roots onstage, even reuniting with Cindy Williams for a touring revival of Grease at the turn of the century.

He cut his teeth as a cabaret performer as well, doing a Vegas club act called Eddie Mekka, With A Little Ragoo On The Side.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk