Rest in peace, Joanie. Happy Days star Erin Moran was found unresponsive at her Harrison County, Indiana, home on Saturday, April 22, and authorities who responded to a 911 call to the home pronounced her dead at the scene. She was 56.
“An autopsy is pending,” the Harrison County sheriff’s department told the Associated Press in a statement. She lived with her second husband, Steve Fleischmann.
The Burbank, California, native first began acting at the young age of 5 after her mother signed her up with an agent. Her first gig was a television commercial for First Federal Bank, and she would have several minor roles in film and television throughout the late 1960s and early ’70s until she had her big break in 1974 when she was cast as Joanie, the lovable, mischievous younger sister of Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) on Happy Days.
Other major characters on the show included Tom Bosley and Marion Ross as Joanie and Richie’s parents and Henry Winkler as tough guy Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli.
The series would go on to run for 10 years to wide acclaim, even sparking a spinoff in 1982, Joanie Loves Chachi, starring Moran and Scott Baio. The show only lasted 17 episodes.
More recently, Moran has had roles on the ‘80s hit series The Love Boat and in the 1986 flick Murder, She Wrote. Her most recent film was 2010’s Not Another B Movie; following Joanie Loves Chachi, Moran never had another starring role.
In 2009, the former child star told Xfinity that she was penning a memoir called Happy Days, Depressing Nights, about her struggles both during and after the hit series. The actress told The Toronto Star in 1988 that she suffered from depression as a result of the see-saw nature of the industry. (That same year, she swore off Hollywood and left Los Angeles to live in the California mountains.)
“I wanted time off to reassess my life and career,” she said at the time. “I had to ask myself, ‘Do I really want to keep doing this, or do I want to sit back and take it easy for five years, 10 years?’”
Moran’s costars and colleagues were heartbroken by news of her loss, and shared their condolences on social media.
OH Erin… now you will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on earth …Rest In It serenely now.. too soon
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) April 23, 2017
Such sad sad news. RIP Erin. I'll always choose to remember you on our show making scenes better, getting laughs and lighting up tv screens. https://t.co/8HmdL0JKlf
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) April 23, 2017
So incredibly sad to hear about Erin. A wonderful, sweet, caring, talented woman.I can't really comprehend this right now.Very painful loss
— Don Most (@most_don) April 23, 2017
So saddened and heartbroken for the passing of Erin Moran?! My heartfelt condolences to all her friends and family! ?
— Maureen McCormick (@MoMcCormick7) April 23, 2017
I've known Erin Moran since childhood doing "GunSmoke". More recently as a troubled soul. So saddened to hear of her passing. RIP ERIN xo pic.twitter.com/R3CQyFdlz8
— Willie Aames (@WAames) April 23, 2017
R.I.P. Erin Moran…a very kind-hearted lady. Gone too soon! ? pic.twitter.com/2lGBk81wSe
— Elvira (@TheRealElvira) April 23, 2017
— Chris Kattan (@ChrisKattan) April 23, 2017
According to the New York Times, a complete list of survivors outside of her husband, Fleischmann, was not immediately available.
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