Happy Days' Erin Moran, Best Known as Joanie Cunningham, Has Died at 56
Erin Moran, best known for her role as Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days has died. She was 56.
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 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.
Costar Henry Winkler led remembrances of Moran on Twitter.
Ron Howard also shared his sadness about the news, tweeting: “RIP Erin. I’ll always choose to remember you on our show making scenes better, getting laughs and lighting up TV screens.”
Moran also appeared on The Love Boat, Murder She Wrote and The Bold and the Beautiful.
In 2011, Moran and three of her Happy Days costars — Don Most, Anson Williams and Marion Ross, plus the estate of Tom Bosley who died in 2010 — sued CBS for breach of contract, claiming that they had not been paid for merchandising relating to the show. In 2012, CBS and the actors settled their lawsuit, with the group receiving and undisclosed amount of money.
During her appearance on Celebrity Fit Club, Moran spoke to PEOPLE in 2007 about her struggles with the pressure to stay thin when she was on Happy Days.
“The only time I had an issue with it was when I was younger, when I was 15, 16 years old,” she said. “I haven’t had those issues since. Those were the times, becoming a woman and having the weight that I had on me at that time. Of course I looked at other women saying I wish I had their bodies.”
Moran also revealed that she would often fast to lose weight.
“I only did that when I was doing Happy Days. I fasted for two weeks every now and then just to lose a quick fix.”
Moran also opened up about her first marriage to Rocky Ferguson and said she felt he was uncomfortable with her fame.
She claimed that Ferguson wanted her to “not be recognizable.”
“He wanted me to lie in who I was and if anyone recognized me to say no I wasn’t,” she said. “And that’s the pressure he put on me.”
Moran also expressed her desire to return to television saying “Gosh yes, oh yes” when asked if she wanted to return to the small screen.
- with reporting from AMY KEITH