The tragic passing of Happy Days star Erin Moran has inspired countless tributes from her fans all across social media. But in the wake of the unhappy news, some people have used the moment as an opportunity to bash Moran’s former co-star, Scott Baio, whose conservative views and adamant support for Donald Trump have generated controversy in the past.
On Twitter, rather than send out love, prayers, and support to Moran and her loved ones, some users have instead condemned Baio in virulent attacks, expressing disappointment over the fact that he should be the one to go on living instead of Moran.
A steady stream of tweets take up this dual approach, lamenting the loss of the talented and beloved Erin Moran, on the one hand, while assailing Scott Baio on the other. One user wrote, “I hope your happy Scott for not helping out Erin Moran who passed away today, you heartless SOB,” while another tweeted, “Erin Moran died. If it had to be Joanie or Chachi, I definitely would have preferred that the world lost Scott Baio.”
@ScottBaio I hope your happy Scott for not helping out Erin Moran who passed away today,you heartless SOB !
— David Yoffee (@DYoffee) April 23, 2017
Erin Moran died. If it had to be Joanie or Chachi, I definitely would have preferred that the world had lost Scott Baio. pic.twitter.com/6b6Yp4x0VO
— Airbag Moments (@airbagmoments) April 23, 2017
But other users were quick to criticize the insensitivity of these comments, and pointed out that in this sad time following Moran’s passing, we ought to be respectful rather than incendiary. They argued that any ill-feelings towards Baio should not come into play now, out of deference for Moran.
It's awful that ppl would use the untimely death of Erin Moran to take cheap shots at @ScottBaio Whether you like him or not, that's cruel
— Sue ???? (@Sue_Lang) April 23, 2017
— Hofftastic (@Hofftastic) April 23, 2017
Scott Baio and Erin Moran first came to know each other on the set of Happy Days, a show that would ultimately propel both of them into the limelight and make them household names. Their characters on Happy Days so endeared them to the viewing public that the two went on to receive their own spin-off show, Joanie Loves Chachi. Though it was a short-lived program — only 17 episodes long — Moran and Baio’s relationship on the show delighted viewers and further cemented a special place for the actors in the hearts and minds of those who watched it.
For a time, the two carried on a real relationship off-screen as well.
Yet, as an adult, Moran would come to meet with serious hardships, including alcoholism and homelessness. The Indianapolis Star reported that in 2010, Moran and her second husband, Steve Fleischmann, had their house foreclosed on, and later moved into a trailer park with Fleischmann’s mother. In 2012, the two were kicked out due to excessive partying.
Moran briefly turned up in the news again when she and some of her former Happy Days collaborators won a lawsuit against CBS. The settlement awarded her $65,000, although she would quickly blow through the money.
On Saturday, news broke that the former child actress had passed away, after authorities received a phone call about an “unresponsive female” at around 4 p.m.
The cause of her death has yet to be determined.
Despite some of the acerbic comments that have come out about Baio since the tragedy struck, most of the people who have tweeted about Erin Moran’s death have done so with great respect and kindness, including Baio himself.
In a tweet he sent out Sunday, Moran’s co-star wrote, “May people remember Erin for her contagious smile, warm heart, and animal loving soul. I always hoped she could find peace in her life. God has you now, Erin.”
— TVLine.com (@TVLine) April 23, 2017
Other Happy Days stars also paid their respects on Twitter. Henry Winkler, who played the iconic role of The Fonz, tweeted that Moran will finally have “the peace you wanted so badly here on Earth.” Ron Howard, who played her older brother on the program, said he will remember her “making scenes better, getting laughs and lighting up TV screens.”
The tributes pay testimony to the fact that although Twitter may be used as a platform for anger and hate, in moments like these it’s better suited for compassion, commemoration, and love.
[Featured Image by RT/MediaPunch/AP Images]