The Joanie of Happy Days Bows Out at 56

Posted on : 05/18/2017
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Just a few decades ago, television used to be the sole source of live entertainment from home. It was during this time in 1974 that ABC aired the first episode of Happy Days. The show told the story of a teenager in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Richie Cunningham and his family. Although the show was being aired in the seventies, it featured the American life as it was in the 1950s and 1960s. The relatability of the show helped it gather a vast fan following. Such was the demand for the show that it aired a total of 255 episodes over a span of 11 seasons. In fact, Happy Days became one of the most loved TV shows in the American television history. Obviously, it was syndicated and distributed around the world. 
 
Happy Days was a massive hit and all the cast members become immensely famous. They were household names and everyone in America, who watched television, knew them. There was one young girl, in particular, who joined the show when she was 14 and appeared in it until she became 23. Simply put, she spent her childhood on national television, thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of the show. That girl is Erin Moran. The entire country began to recognize her as Joanie Cunningham, little sister of the lead character, Richie Cunningham. While Richie Cunningham was replaced by Fonzi as the lead character of the series, love for Joanie kept pouring in till the very last season.
 
What most people do not know is that Erin Moran was already an established actress before she starred in Happy Days. The show smoothly showed her transition from a brat of a young sister to a lovable young woman. In fact, the show also added a romantic storyline, including Joanie and Fonzi’s cousin Chachi. In fact, this storyline became so popular that it gave rise to a completely new show, Joanie loves Chachi. However, the show could not capture the audience’s attention as much as Happy Days did, and was cancelled after it completed two seasons. Moran then came back to the show for a final season after which Happy Days was wrapped up.
 
Erin Moran had a successful run as a child actor and then as a young woman on Happy Days. But, she could not translate this success to her later career. Though she did a lot of guest appearances in popular shows like Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, and The Love Boat, she could not find a stable, recurring role on TV. In 2008, Moran was seen on Celebrity Fit Club, a reality show on VH1. But, her confession that she was on the show only for the money destroyed her chances of winning audience votes. Erin Moran kept running into financial troubles. As a result, she had to sell her California home and move into a trailer home with her mother-in-law in 2010. She even got herself kicked out of the trailer home, because of her arguments with her mother-in-law.
 
Erin Moran aka Joanie Cunningham of Happy Days died at the age of 56. According to media reports, an unresponsive woman, who was later identified as Erin Moran, was found in Indiana on April 22, 2017. She was later declared dead. According to the first reports, the cause of death is most likely throat cancer. But, the final report is still pending. Meanwhile, her second and present husband, Steven Fleischman released a letter in which he confirms that Moran was suffering from throat cancer since Thanksgiving last year. She was undergoing treatment, but they were not aware of how aggressively it had spread.
 
In the wake of this sad news, many of Erin’s co-stars posted their condolences on Twitter. Henry Winkler aka Fonz from Happy Days tweeted, “OH Erin… now you will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on earth …Rest In It serenely now.. too soon”. Ron Howard, who played her on-screen elder brother, Richie, also posted, “Such sad sad news. RIP Erin. I'll always choose to remember you on our show making scenes better, getting laughs and lighting up tv screens.” There were many more people from showbusiness, who remembered Erin as a happy but troubled soul.
 
Erin Moran may have left the world, but she will live on through her acting. She has given some of her best years to American television. She will be remembered as the little Cunningham girl who everybody loved and adored on Happy Days.

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