Erin Moran was found dead on Saturday afternoon, and while the cause of death for the troubled Happy Days star appears to still be a bit of a mystery, many fans are bemoaning the sad downward spiral the former child star faced in her years away from the spotlight.
The 56-year-old television star was pronounced dead after police responded to a report of an “unresponsive female” at Moran’s home in Indiana, a report from the Hollywood Reporter noted. There were no further details yet about the manner of death, whether foul play was a factor, or even what time Moran might have died.
There was speculation that Erin Moran’s cause of death could be related to an alcohol and drug overdose, and some reports indicated that substance abuse may have played a role, but it does not appear there is any concrete evidence to support that. As of this writing, those reports appear likely to be speculation based on her well-documented troubles in recent years.
While Erin Moran’s cause of death has yet to be officially determined, many fans of Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi had followed the sad downward spiral that she had seen in the past few years. In 2012, reports indicated that the former child star and her husband, Steve Fleischmann, were forced to live in a trailer with her elderly mother-in-law after being kicked out of their previous home.
Erin Moran reportedly blew through a $65,000 settlement over merchandise revenue and eventually wore out her welcome with her mother-in-law.
“Erin was a huge help at first, but then Steve’s mom got fed up with Erin’s nonstop partying and told her to hit the road,” a source told Radar Online.
That led to reports that Moran and her husband were homeless, and a few weeks later, witnesses said they saw Erin Moran exhibiting strange behavior.
“We were just hanging outside at about 9 or 10 pm, and she just happened to be coming out around the corner and stopped and talked to us,” a witness told Radar Online after seeing Moran near a motel in Indiana.
“She was real goofy and silly acting. She said was heading over to the bar for a tequila shot, but actually stayed with us instead and hung out for the next three or four hours outside in the grass.”
The source added that it wasn’t clear if Erin Moran was on drugs or alcohol at the time.
“She seemed like she was a little off, it was hard to tell if it was just alcohol,” the witness said. “She didn’t do any drugs or talk about them in front of us. She was definitely a little kooky and acted weird, saying odd things, and even offered to give me a back rub!”
Some of Moran’s co-stars even reached out in an attempt to pull her out of the downward spiral. Henry Winkler, who starred opposite Moran on Happy Days, reportedly reached out at the time to help her find more acting work. Not all were so willing to help, however. Scott Baio, who played her on-screen love interest in both Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi, told the New York Post in 2012 after reports of her alleged alcohol addiction and homelessness that he had no plans to help her get her footing again.
“I feel bad, but sometimes you make your bed and you have to sleep in it. That is unfortunate. I have extended myself a couple of times and at a certain point you have to say, ‘You know what? I have got my own life to live. I am not going to worry about this.'”
But many stars came together on Saturday to pay tribute to Erin Moran, including Winkler, who posted a heartbreaking note online.
So far, there is no official word from police on Erin Moran’s cause of death.
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]