Actress Erin Moran, most notably known for her roles on Happy Days and its one-season spin-off, Joanie Loves Chachi, is now dead at the age of 56, TMZ is reporting.
The TV sitcom star was said to have been discovered unresponsive by authorities in Indiana sometime on Saturday afternoon, according to the entertainment website.
“[Police] in Indiana got a call just after 4 PM ET Saturday from someone reporting an ‘unresponsive female,'” the site states.
“[Once] EMT’s arrived and found Erin Moran’s body,” it goes on to say, “she was already dead.”
An autopsy is said to be pending.
Moran rose to prominence as the youngest member of the fictional Cunningham family, Joanie Cunningham, on the nostalgic ABC comedy during its decade-long run starting in 1974, and 1982’s Joanie Love Chachi, a spin-off themed around Moran’s Happy Days character in an adult relationship and singing group with on-screen love Chachi, played by Scott Baio.
Despite being a top-20 ratings hit, Moran relayed in an interview with Pop Addict that execs at ABC — the network which aired both Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi — were more than happy with seeing her show go after just one season.
“Well, they put [the show] up against Magnum, P.I.,” she explained, “[and] it was [only crafted for one] season. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, except for the producers [who] never wanted it to be anything more then a [one-season show]. They never wanted it to go [past that].”
Following the latter series’ cancellation, Moran and Baio both returned to Happy Days and remained on the show until its 11th and final season in 1984; but the tides of her success following her spin on the Gerry Marshall-created entities took a swift and sharp turn following the end of both shows.
“Erin had a tough time after her Happy Days stardom,” TMZ explains, “[due to] a combination of drinking and bizarre behavior that eventually landed her in a trailer park in Indiana.”
A 2008 Daily Mail expose further alleges that the once-working actress eventually lost most, if not all her riches and, apparently, her last known residence — a mobile home she shared with her husband, Steven Fleischmann, that she rented from her mother-in-law — as well.
‘Erin was going out to bars and coming home at all hours of the night,” the publication shared, “sometimes with her rowdy bar friends, and Steve’s mom just couldn’t take it anymore.”
In her career following Happy Days, Moran had minor guest appearances on Murder, She Wrote; Diagnosis Murder, and The Bold and The Beautiful, TV Line details, before joining VH1’s weight-loss reality series, Celebrity Fit Club in 2008.
While on the show, Moran admitted to judges’ that she was only participating for the sake of earning a quick paycheck (she ultimately was allowed to remain and complete the competition). Nonetheless, despite her many supposed hardships, Erin was always quick to offer her gratitude to the show that ultimately led her to becoming part of TV history.
“It’s a blessing,” she shared with Pop Addict.
“I’m so thankful because Happy Days [was a show] that changed people’s lives. I [once] got a letter from a girl saying that she saw an episode [where] I was talking to my dad, and she wrote that it had helped her to [have a relationship with him! I don’t think that could ever be a thorn! It’s just excellent to have that in my life.”
Further details regarding Erin Moran being found dead have yet to be revealed publicly. We here at the Inquisitr offer our condolences to Moran’s family and loved ones during this troubling time.
[Featured Image by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images]