Erin Moran, who starred as Joanie Cunningham in the TV hit “Happy Days” and its spinoff, “Joanie Loves Chachi,” likely died of cancer.
The Harrison County, Indiana, Sheriff’s Office and the county coroner said in a joint statement Monday that an autopsy conducted on Moran, who was found dead Saturday at her New Salisbury home at age 56, revealed she had “likely succumbed to complications of stage 4 cancer.” The cancer had never been publicly disclosed.
The statement added that, “Standard toxicology tests were performed and the results are pending,” but that “no illegal narcotics were found at the residence.”
She had been found shortly after 4 p.m. following a 911 call, The Indianapolis Star said Monday.
The paper added that Moran and her second husband, Steve Fleischmann, whom she married in 1993, had moved to southern Indiana in 2011, a year after the foreclosure of their California home. Moran’s representative told ABC News in June 2012 that, “Erin and her husband did in fact move in with her ailing mother-in-law over a year ago,” adding, “They are helping take care of her, as any loving family would do.”
Sometime after that, amid reports of homelessness, Moran was seen living in a Holiday Inn Express in Corydon, Indiana, eight miles north of New Salisbury, the paper said.
After “Happy Days” completed its 11th season in 1984, Moran guest-starred on several episodes of “The Love Boat” and one of “Murder, She Wrote,” according to her credits at IMDb. She then made no screen appearances until a 1998 episode of “Diagnosis Murder” and, aside from occasional documentary or reality shows, only four in subsequent years.
The actress told the Xfinity TV Blog in 2009 that she was working on an autobiography titled “Happy Days, Depressing Nights.”
On hearing of her death, filmmaker and former “Happy Days” star 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.” Fellow star Henry 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.”