Entertainment

Authorities: Former ‘Happy Days’ star likely died of cancer

Actresses Erin Moran, left, and Marion Ross pose together in 2009. Moran, the former child star who played Joanie Cunningham in the sitcoms "Happy Days" and "Joanie Loves Chachi," has died at age 56.
Actresses Erin Moran, left, and Marion Ross pose together in 2009. Moran, the former child star who played Joanie Cunningham in the sitcoms "Happy Days" and "Joanie Loves Chachi," has died at age 56. The Associated Press file

Authorities say former “Happy Days” star Erin Moran likely died from cancer at her southern Indiana home, reported The Associated Press.

A statement released Monday by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department says an autopsy revealed the 56-year-old actress had stage-four cancer, but doesn’t specify what type.

The department says Moran died Saturday in the rural community of New Salisbury, about 20 miles northwest of Louisville, Ky. Officials say standard toxicology test results are pending but that no illegal narcotics were found at the home.

A Burbank, California, native, Moran began acting in TV and movies before she was 10 years old. In 1974, she was cast in “Happy Days” as Joanie Cunningham, the kid sister to high school student Richie Cunningham, played by Ron Howard.

Friends, colleagues and fans took to social media to remember her.

In two posts on the Facebook page of A Minor Consideration, a nonprofit that seeks to aid current and former child stars, founder Paul Petersen said the organization had reached out to Moran in recent days. “Erin had friends and she knew it,” he wrote.

“The perversity of human frailty is at the root of this loss, not failure,” Petersen added. “We did our best with the resources available to us, but it was a very dark room. Some don’t find the light switch in time.”

As the news spread, friends and fans – including some of Moran’s fellow former child stars – expressed their condolences on social media.

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