Erin Moran, Joanie Cunningham in “Happy Days,” dies at 56

  • Saturday, April 22, 2017 9:10pm
  • Life
Actress Erin Moran, of the television show “Happy Days,” poses in Los Angeles in 1982. (Wally Fong / Associated Press)

Actress Erin Moran, of the television show “Happy Days,” poses in Los Angeles in 1982. (Wally Fong / Associated Press)

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Erin Moran, the former child star who played Joanie Cunningham in the sitcoms “Happy Days” and “Joanie Loves Chachi,” died Saturday at age 56.

A statement from the sheriff’s department in Harrison County, Indiana, said the dispatcher “received a 911 call about an unresponsive female. Upon arrival of first responders, it was determined that Erin Moran Fleischmann was deceased. An autopsy is pending.”

The dispatcher confirmed to The Associated Press that the woman was the actress, who had been married to Steven Fleischmann.

“Such sad sad news. RIP Erin,” ”Happy Days” star Ron Howard tweeted Saturday. “I’ll always choose to remember you on our show making scenes better, getting laughs and lighting up TV screens.”

A Burbank, California, native, Moran began acting in TV and movies before she was 10 years old. She had several years of experience when she was cast in 1974 in “Happy Days” as Joanie Cunningham, the kid sister to high school student Richie Cunningham, played by Howard. Other cast members included Tom Bosley and Marion Ross as Joanie’s parents and Henry Winkler as the loveable tough guy Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli.

“What happened with all of us was like we were this family,” she told Xfinity in 2009. “It was so surreal with all the cast members. … They were my family, get it?”

Debuting at a time of nostalgia for the seemingly innocent 1950s, the sitcom was set in Milwaukee and became a long-running hit. Howard and Winkler were the show’s biggest stars, but the smiling, freckle-faced Moran also became popular. In 1982, she was paired off with fellow “Happy Days” performer Scott Baio in the short-lived “Joanie Loves Chachi.” Moran returned to “Happy Days” in 1984, the show’s final season.

“I would love to do a feature (film), I’d love to do a play,” she told CNN in 1981 when asked what she’d like to do after “Happy Days.”

Her more recent credits included “The Love Boat” and “Murder, She Wrote,” but she never approached the success of “Happy Days” and was more often in the news for her numerous personal and financial struggles and was reportedly homeless at times.

In 2011, she and Ross and former “Happy Days” actors Anson Williams and Donnie Most sued CBS, saying they were owed money for merchandising related to the show. The lawsuit was settled the following year.

Moran told Xfinity that she had been working on a memoir, called “Happy Days, Depressing Nights.”

“OH Erin… now you will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on earth,” Winkler tweeted Saturday. “Rest In It serenely now.. too soon.”

Talk to us

More in Life

Katie Thurston sets off on her journey to find love on "The Bachelorette" airing Monday on ABC. (ABC/Craig Sjodin)
Lynnwood High grad Katie Thurston is ‘The Bachelorette’

She gets her pick of 30 hopeful husbands-to-be on the hot hit ABC show that airs Monday.

Amy Martin’s “Twilight Fishing” in oil is based on an old photo of her father.
Camano Studio Tour returns, thanks to dedicated volunteers

The 22nd tour celebrates five artists who have volunteered for the Camano Arts Association for many years.

Forget hanging baskets — hardy fuchsias bloom like crazy

Their flowers keep reappearing until the frosts of October. Then they’ll come back and do it again next year.

Sambucus nigra ‘Gerda’ BLACK BEAUTY ™
PURPLE-LEAF BLACK ELDER
Great Plant Pick: Sambucus nigra ‘Gerda’ Black Beauty

The best of the purpleleaf elders, this robust shrub retains its deep burgundy-purple foliage color from spring to fall.

Photo Caption: To help calm little boys getting a first haircut, barbers ordered special chairs with added seats shaped like animals. The Emil Paidar Company made this chair in the early 20th century. It was a feature that added value to the Cowan chair at auction. It sold for $1,375, just a few bids from the low estimate.

(c) 2021 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.
Vintage barbershop chairs often displayed in living rooms

Special figural chairs made to look like rocking horses calmed little boys during their first haircuts.

The Evergreen Arboretum & Gardens is hosting a “Summer Pruning” webinar July 14 via Zoom. (Getty Images)
Home and garden events and resources around Snohomish County

Home and garden events and resources around Snohomish County

Monroe Equity Council has planned what is believed to be the city's first public Pride event with a program of activities, art, music and stories from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 27 at Sky River Park. (Monroe Equity Council)
Pride gatherings planned for Everett, Monroe this weekend

The in-person events are places for community and support of LGBTQIA people.

Cathy Richardson of Jefferson Starship performs during the Heros of Woodstock concert at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, N.Y. Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009, marking the 40th anniversary of the original 1969 Woodstock concert. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Tickets for sale in Snohomish County and around the region

The listings include Historic Everett Theatre, Edmonds Center for the Arts and Thumbnail Theater shows.

The F Street Project is scheduled to perform June 26 at the Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater in Snohomish. (YouTube)
All about music: Schedule of concerts around Snohomish County

The listings include Historic Everett Theatre, Edmonds Center for the Arts and Thumbnail Theater shows.

Most Read