Born in 1952 to an Armenian father and an Italian mother, Eddie Mekka told Broadway.com he got the performing bug when he was asked to be the emcee of their variety school, so of course his next stop was the stage. In 1975, Mekka received a Tony nomination for his Broadway performance in “The Lieutenant.” One of his earliest television roles was, of course, the one that would forever brand him as “The Big Ragoo.” Carmine Ragusa was the bright-faced, dancing, on-again-off-again boyfriend of Shirley Feeney. After appearing in all 8 seasons, Mekka went on to a myriad of guest roles in both movies and series, including two different characters on “Family Matters.” In the season 2 episode, “Flash Pants,” Mekka plays Charlie, a transfer who competes against Carl in a dance contest. Then in “Sink or Swim” in season 6, Mekka plays Mr. Nutting, the P.E. teacher in Urkel’s swim class.
Mekka continued getting roles in TV and movies, including small ones in 1992’s “A League of Their Own” and 2006’s “Dreamgirls.” In a 2014 Boston Globe interview, Mekka mused, “I got to do a great jitterbug number with Madonna in ‘A League of Their Own.’” Mekka continued working until his last credit in 2018, then a few short years later, Mekka died on November 27, 2021, at the age of 79. Costar Michael McKean tweeted, “A sad goodbye to Eddie Mekka this morning. A genuinely good guy and purveyor of cheer whenever things got cheerless.”