‘Happy Days’ Star Erin Moran Dead at 56: Celebs Mourn Joanie Cunningham Actress

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.

Erin Moran
Erin Moran Amy Graves/WireImage

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.

Erin Moran, Happy Days
Marion Ross, Erin Moran and Tom Bosley (from left) on 'Happy Days.' ABC Photo Archives/ABC/Getty Images

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.

According to the New York Times, a complete list of survivors outside of her husband, Fleischmann, was not immediately available.

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Want stories like these delivered straight to your phone? Download the Us Weekly iPhone app now!

Close popup

Welcome to In Motion

Bring photos to life with Us Weekly's exciting new mobile experience!

What's In Motion? Tell me more

What's In Motion?

Go back

How to Use In Motion

What's In Motion? Tell me more