Hollywood was struck with the loss of actress Erin Moran on Saturday,
Better known as “Joanie Cunningham” on Happy Days, Moran was found unresponsive by law enforcement when they arrived following-up on a call. She was ruled dead from a suspected drug overdose around 4 p.m. Eastern at the scene.
Moran started acting when she was just 10-years old and signed on to be a star on Happy Days when she was 14. Her most popular days in the industry were in the early 1970s when she played Joanie, the little sister of Ron Howard’s character, Richie. After Happy Days ended, Moran starred on the spin-off show Joanie Loves Chachi, which lasted just one season.
In recent years, though, Moran largely stayed out of the spotlight. She instead encountered a bizarre fall from Hollywood that saw her living in a trailer park in Indiana before reportedly becoming homeless.
Reports say that Moran was married twice in her lifetime, marrying Rocky Ferguson first in 1987. The two stayed married for six years before they broke up and she found love with Steven Fleischmann. The couple met on April 22, 1992 and she died 20 years later on April 22, 2017.
Despite several reports of animosity throughout the years of their relationship, the couple stayed married for over 20 years until she unexpectedly died.
Here’s what you need to know about Fleischmann:
1. Fleischmann Issued a Statement After Moran’s Death, Saying She Died of Throat Cancer
An autopsy performed by the Harrison County Coroner’s Office revealed that Moran most likely died from stage 4 cancer.
Fleischmann issued an open letter on his Facebook page, encouraging people to share it. He said in the statement that in November 2016, Moran noticed a blood stain on her pillowcase. That continued for a few days until she got it checked out. It turned out to be squamous cell carcinoma, or neck cancer. Moran went through radiation and chemotherapy, but her condition continued to decline, as she had a feeding tube implanted in her neck.
Fleischmann said he took a nap next to her on April 22 holding her hand. When he woke up, she was dead.
Read Fleischmann’s full statement to media below:
Erin and I met 4/22/1992 and parted ways 4/22/2017. We were planning to go to
Thunder Over Louisville to celebrate. She was feeling fine on our anniversary 11-23-2016. Maybe four or five days after we got back Erin woke up and had about a dime size blood stain on her pillowcase. She said I think i bit my tongue. A couple days go by and there’s a bigger spot of blood. We get like 4 days into December, there’s more blood. I get a flashlight and say let me look.
It was not her tongue it was her tonsil on the left side. I thought it was tonsillitis.
So we went to an ENT who said they wanted to biopsy it. It came back squamous cell carcinoma. She started radiation and chemo. Five days a week radiation and chemo only on Thursdays. We did that the whole time. It got so bad so fast.
By the middle of February, Erin could no longer speak or eat or drink. She had a feeding tube implant and i feed her 6 to 8 times a day. She was still happy, she was active, she texted people on her phone all day. On the 21st she was having trouble breathing. She woke up on the 22nd, she was not 100%.
She needed Kleenex, so i went to the store and came back. She was there watching T.V in bed. I laid down next to her held her right hand in my left. I feel asleep woke up about a hour later still holding her hand and she was gone, she was just gone.
Norton Cancer Institute never said how bad it was.. The coroner told me it was really really bad. It had spread to her spleen, she had alot of fluid in her lungs and part of her brain was infected. The coroner said even if she was in the hospital being pumped full of antibiotics she still would not of made it. He said it was the best that she was with me and went in her sleep.
So that’s it.
PLEASE feel free to send the above to Any and ALL
The press has been relentless. they knock on the door constantly. Thank you Harrison County Sheriff’s I Called last night and they came out ran them off got up this morning
they were all back sheriffs ran them all off again. the last time two cop cars ran off the last ones right before it got dark. we will see what tomorrow brings….
PEACE my friends.
2. Moran Struggled With Alcoholism After Her Acting Career
A personal struggle with alcoholism and eventual fall from grace in Moran’s life was well-reported over the last five years.
On Happy Days, “Fonzie” became fond of “Joanie” and often referred to her with the nickname “Shortcake.” The two shared a lot of time on the camera together throughout the show’s duration, and Winkler’s character would often look out for Morans.
Shortly after Moran’s death, Winkler sent out a tweet memorializing his former co-worker and friend. He implied that all she wanted in life was peace.
Winkler was reportedly “shattered” over what her life had become a few years back. A source told The National Enquirer that Moran was a frequent visitor at bars into her later years.
‘Erin was going out to bars and coming home at all hours of the night, sometimes with her rowdy bar friends, and Steve’s mom just couldn’t take it anymore
3. Fleischmann & Moran Lived In a Mobile Home & Then Became Homeless
Moran reportedly married her first husband, Ferguson in 1987, but the couple’s relationship ended with a divorce in 1993. A short while later, she met Fleischmann and they were married within months. They tied the knot on November 23, 1993.
Moran and Fleischmann were married for over 20 years, though there are no reports of them ever having any children together. They lost their Californian home in foreclosure and were forced to move into a trailer park in Indiana.
The two reportedly lived with Fleischmann’s mother, who kicked out Moran for her “hard-partying ways,” RadarOnline.com reported. Soon enough, Moran was homeless and “skipping from one cheap motel to the next,” Fox News reported a few months later.
Motel guests in Indiana said that on one instance Moran “tip-toed around the corner acting weird” before joining the group for a few alcoholic drinks.
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. 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!
RadarOnline published photos of Moran and her husband smoking cigarettes outside of a Holiday Inn Express in Indiana also in 2012. To see them, click here.
According to the National Enquirer, Moran and Fleischmann were living off of Moran’s cash settlement she received from CBS over merchandising royalties.
The Enquirer article said that Fleischmann worked in the garden center at a Wal-Mart near New Salisbury, Indiana.
4. Speculation Moran Was Going to Split With Fleischmann Surfaced 4 Years Ago
In 2013, reports surfaced that Moran seemed “ready to dump” Fleischmann, citing her becoming a lesbian as the reason why.
A source told the Enquirer that Moran had turned gay after they saw the Moran and Fleischmann out during a night at a bowling alley in Corydon, Indiana.
The same source also said those reports were based on seeing Moran “make out with one of her female friends” after drinking shots of tequila at the bar. The Enquirer allegations went further, saying that Moran doing so made her husband “furious,” resulting in him verbally harassing her.
Steve was so angry he stormed out of the bar, and an intoxicated Erin hurled insults at him, like ‘Get the hell out of here, you big crybaby! Go home, crawl into bed and suck your thumb as you cry yourself to sleep, you mama’s boy!
The report said that Moran returned to the bar and continued to criticize Fleischmann, mocking him for working at Wal-Mart. The source at the bar said Moran claimed that her husband only stays with her because she was the “breadwinner.”
5. Fleischmann & Moran Ended Up Staying Together Until Her Death
Despite the reports that Moran and Fleischmann were going to split after the disagreements and arguments, it appears that the two never did so. A TMZ report said that the couple were still together when she died; Erin’s formal last name at her time of death was listed as “Moran-Fleischmann.”
The last thing Moran acted on was the 2010 comedy Not Another B Movie. Moran was a minor character in the movie, which was spoof film about the horror movie industry.
After Happy Days concluded in 1984, Moran appeared on The Love Boat and also Murder, She Wrote.
Though Flesichmann and Moran never had kids when she died, she considered those she worked with on Happy Days as members of her family.
In a 2009 interview with Xfinity, Moran talked about how she thought of her former co-workers as her relatives on — and off — the set.
What happened with all of us was like we were this family. It was so surreal with all the cast members. There was another moment where we forgot we were doing scenes. We forgot we were acting. They were my family, get it?