RIP: Erin Moran, Best Known For Role As Joanie In ‘Happy Days’ Dies at 56

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The actress was best known for her role as Ron Howard’s little sister on the ’70s sitcom.

Erin Moran, best known for her role as Joanie Cunningham on the sitcoms Happy Days and its spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi, has died.

Erin Moran, the actress best known for playing Joanie Cunningham on beloved sitcom Happy Days and its spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi, has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 56.

A cause of death was not immediately established, but the actress was pronounced dead after police responded to an “unresponsive female” report, per THR.

Moran began her career as a child actress, starring in commercials starting at age five. She appeared in films such as 1968’s How Sweet It Is! with Debbie Reynolds and Melvin Van Peebles’ Watermelon Man in 1970 alongside TV shows Daktari, the Don Rickles Show, My Three Sons and the Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

But it was her role as Joanie Cunningham, the smart-aleck younger sister to Ron Howard’s Richie, that would earn Moran the role of her career. Hired at age 12, the actress would portray Cunningham from the show’s 1974 debut through season nine of the show. In season five, the show introduced Charles “Chachi” Arcola (Scott Baio), the cousin of Henry Winkler’s Arthur Fonzarelli, who would later become Moran’s on-screen love interest.

In 1982, Moran and Baio left the show to star in the Happy Days spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi. The Spinoff found the pair relocating to Chicago in the mid-Sixties and trying to make it a singer-songwriter duo. The show lasted two seasons before ABC cancelled it due to low ratings. She returned to Happy Days in 1983 for its final season.

 

Moran continued to act following the end of Happy Days in 1984 – albeit more sporadically – appearing in numerous TV shows (Murder, She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder) and films (Not Another Teen Movie).

Our thoughts are with Moran’s family at this time.