Erin Moran, a co-star of the TV series Happy Days, was found dead last night, April 22, 2017, in a small trailer park in New Salisbury, Indiana, about two hours south of Indianapolis. She was 56.
While a cause of death has not been determined, pending autopsy results, the Daily Mail is citing local sources who say Moran died of a possible heroin overdose.
Moran made her first TV show appearance as a 6-year-old in 1966. She had parts in Gunsmoke, My Three Sons, Death Valley Days, and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father before she landed, at age 13, the role of Joanie Cunningham, Ron Howard’s kid sister, on Happy Days. America watched Moran grow up on the program, which ran until 1983. She co-starred with Scott Baio in Joanie Loves Chachi from 1982 to 1983.
But Moran never again approached the success of Happy Days. After appearances on The Love Boat and Murder She Wrote, she had no screen credits from 1986 until 1998 and only three between ’86 and 2008, according to IMDB. In 2013, she appeared on reality TV show Celebrity Swan, in which has-beens would compete for free plastic surgery and a makeover.
In 2010, Moran lost her California home to foreclosure, and moved to Indiana with her second husband, Steve Fleischmann.
In 2012, actor Henry Winkler, “The Fonz” on Happy Days, reached out in an ultimately failed attempt to get Moran a part on his TV show Arrested Development. Moran did get some good news that year when she and Happy Days colleagues Marion Ross, Anson Williams, Don Most and the widow of Tom Bosley, settled a lawsuit with CBS for $65,000 each.
That same year, 2012, Moran and her husband were evicted from their trailer in Indiana by his mother, who was tired of Moran’s “hard partying ways.’’ Citing a source, the National Enquirer wrote: “Erin was going out to bars and coming home at all hours of the night, sometimes with her rowdy bar friends, and Steve’s mom just couldn’t take it anymore.’’
Moran bounced between friends’ couches and cheap motels. She and her husband She and her husband reportedly were booted out of a Holiday Inn for her heavy drinking and hard partying.
After news of Moran’s death, Winkler tweeted: “Oh Erin… now you will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on earth. Rest In It serenely now… too soon.” Another Happy Days alum, director Ron Howard tweeted, “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.”