Paul Petersen, who appeared on The Donna Reed Show in the 1950s and 1960s before becoming an advocate for child actors, said many had reached out to help Erin Moran before her shocking death on Saturday at age 56.
The actor posted on the Facebook page for the non-profit organization A Minor Consideration Sunday, addressing Moran’s passing with a message titled “We Pulled Our Weight With Erin.”
“I am proud of our efforts over the years to help Erin Moran whose troubles were many and complex,” he wrote. “Don’t doubt for a moment that we tried…sincerely tried through time and treasure…to give comfort to one of our own.”
Petersen, 71, said that at least six former child actors reached out to Moran in the past week.
“Erin had friends and she knew it,” he continued. “Abandonment was not the issue. The perversity of human frailty is at the root of this loss, not failure. We did our best with the resources available to us, but it was a very dark room. Some don’t find the light switch in time.”
Officers in Harrison County in Indiana responded to reports of an unresponsive female in Corydon, Indiana, on Saturday afternoon. First responders determined that the woman, identified as Moran, had deceased, PEOPLE has confirmed (the news was first reported by TMZ). An autopsy is pending.
Moran most famously played Joanie Cunningham, the younger sister to Richie Cunningham (played by Ron Howard) on Happy Days, which ran from 1974 to 1984. She also starred in the spin-off, Joanie Loves Chachi from 1982 to 1983, which followed her character’s romance with Chachi, played by Scott Baio.
Despite working on and off as an actress, Moran reportedly lost her Palmdale, California, home to foreclosure in 2010, according to documents obtained by TMZ. According to the documents, the house was sold at public auction for $291,150. TMZ also reported that Moran refused to leave the home after it was sold and was served with eviction papers.
Neighbors of Moran remembered her as a friendly member of their mobile home community but said she became more reclusive in recent months.
“I used to see her all the time, walking up to get the mail or just out for a stroll,” says neighbor David Holt, 61. “She always waved or stopped to say hello. But I hadn’t seen her for a couple of months. She kind of hibernated at the end. It’s so sad. She was a good person.”