Shared from the 2017-04-24 Chattanooga eEdition

Erin Moran, Joanie Cunningham in ‘Happy Days,’ dies at age of 56

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Erin Moran

(1982)

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

Moran was found dead Saturday by emergency responders after a dispatcher for the Harrison County, Ind., sheriff’s department received a 911 call, the department said. The cause of death has not been determined. An autopsy is pending.

A Burbank, Calif., 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 Ron Howard, who went on to become a successful filmmaker.

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 personal and financial struggles and was homeless at times.

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

Debuting at a time of nostalgia for the seemingly innocent 1950s, the sitcom was set in Milwaukee and became a long-running hit.

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