Eddie Mekka, who starred on the popular sitcom Laverne & Shirley with Shirley MacLaine, has died in California at the age of 69. Mekka was found dead of a suspected heart attack in the bed of his Los Angeles home on Saturday, his agent confirmed to the Associated Press. The actor appeared on two Laverne & Shirley episodes in the early 80s, but his career took off when he moved to Hollywood, where he appeared in more than 100 films and TV shows in the 1980s and 1990s.
However, Mekka will likely be best remembered as Clampett brothers patriarch “Farmer,” who appeared in 88 episodes of Hill Street Blues, The Love Boat, and two Gilmore Girls series, among other shows. Mekka was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy for the role. Mekka played the farmer in four episodes of the TV Land comedy series The X-Files, in between which he made appearances on ER, The Bionic Woman, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
He became well known in comedy circles after playing a comic on both Boomerang and Friends. But Mekka is perhaps best known as Alonzo in Morey Amsterdam’s titular sketch series, which also starred Robert Klein and Martin Short. Mekka performed on several All Star Comedy Revues during his long career in comedy, including the 1992 show with Martin Short. A number of Mekka’s own sketches are considered to be among the best.
After his TV career ended, Mekka enjoyed success in stand-up comedy and with his animated character “Babbino Blondie,” often referring to himself as “Two or Three,” a characterization that has stuck with him ever since. Mekka finally hit his defining role as Alonzo in the 1994 Superstore TV series, but he attempted a return to sitcoms in a 1992 pilot about FBI agents. The pilot was not picked up, and Mekka is also remembered for a 1997 game show that he hosted. Mekka is survived by his wife Janet, and three children.