DCS: eddie mekka

Eddie Mekka was more than “Carmine Ragusa,” the singing-dancing, on-again-off-again tough guy boyfriend of Shotz Beer bottle capper “Shirley Feeney” in the 1970s sitcom Laverne & Shirley.

Before landing the part of “The Big Ragu,” Eddie performed on Broadway in the rock opera The Lieutenant, a role that earned him a  Tony Award nomination. Post-Laverne & Shirley, Eddie stayed busy with guest roles in TV comedies and dramas, like 24, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Bold and The Beautiful and many others. He was cast by his former Laverne & Shirley co-star Penny Marshall in a small, but memorable, role as Madonna’s dance partner in A League of Their Own, where he matched the Material Girl step for step. A decade later, he popped up in the critically-acclaimed film Dreamgirls as a club manager.

Eddie toured in various musicals like Grease (where he teamed up with Cindy Williams) and Fiddler on the Roof in the starring role of “Tevye.” He also starred in a run of Hairspray at The Luxor in Las Vegas and in the off-Broadway comedy My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m In Therapy!

From his humble show biz beginnings as a voice instructor in the local opera company in his native Worcester, Massachusetts, Eddie Mekka achieved a career to be proud of. Sadly, he passed away at the young age of 69 on November, 27, 2021. By all accounts, he was a nice guy, too.

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DCS: olga baclanova

Olga Baclanova apprenticed at the Moscow Art Theatre but was soon appearing in films in the Russian cinema. In 1925, as part of a touring company from the Moscow Art Theatre, Olga came to New York City. She defected during the tour and caught the sight of film producers during a performance in Los Angeles. Olga was cast in The Dove in a bit part. The popularity of the film led to bigger roles including the thriller The Man Who Laughs with Conrad Veidt. She received raved reviews for her performances… that is until talking pictures became the trend in Hollywood. The exaggerated mannerisms she displays in silent films, along with her heavy Russian accent, became a hinderance. Her career faltered and she was relegated to small, supporting roles… when she was able to get work.

Director Tod Browning, a fan from her silent picture days, cast her in his follow-up to his hit Dracula. The film was Freaks and Olga played the deceitful trapeze artist Cleopatra. Freaks shocked movie-going audiences and was pulled from widespread distribution. It was banned in a number of countries worldwide. All hopes of reigniting Olga’s career were dashed. She ended her film career in 1943 after a smattering of bit parts.

Undiscouraged, Olga pursued the stage, appearing in Broadway productions, as well as plays on London’s famed West End. She headed to retirement, taking to the stage only a few more times in the 1950s. She moved to Switzerland and spent her final years in a retirement facility. She passed away in 1974 at the age of 81.

Olga experienced some posthumous resurgence in the spotlight. In the early 80s, it was noticed that a budding young singer named Madonna bore a striking resemblance to Olga in her youth. The Man Who Laughs enjoyed a brief revival as a result of Madonna’s popularity.

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DCS: alice white

Alice White worked as a script girl and secretary for noted Academy Award-nominated director Josef von Sternberg. She also served as a switchboard operator at the Hollywood Writers’ Club. After a disagreement with von Sternberg, she went to work for Charles Chaplin.

Alice was often compared to actress Clara Bow. Her bubbly personality caught the attention of producer Mervyn LeRoy and he cast her in The Sea Tiger in 1927, also starring a young Mary Astor. This led to a long succession of films and in 1929, Alice saw her name above the title in the musical The Girl from Woolworth’s.

She briefly put her career on hold to take acting lessons in hopes to improve her ability and land more substantial roles. In 1933, Alice returned to Hollywood, only to have her career marred by scandal. Lurid tales of a love triangle between Alice, British actor John Warburton and Alice’s fiancé, American screenwriter Sidney Bartlett were rampant in the tabloids and fan magazines. Angered by the stories, Warburton beat Alice so badly, she required reconstructive cosmetic surgery.

Soon, Alice found herself relegated to small supporting roles and then no roles at all. Her final film appearance was a minor part in Michael Curtiz‘s Flamingo Road in 1949. She left Hollywood and went back to being a secretary.

Long out of the spotlight, Alice suffered a stroke in 1983 and passed away at the age of 78.

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