Happy Days

actress Erin Moran spent her final days reportedly broke and homeless after she was kicked out of mother-in-law's trailer park house in a drunken brawl.

Moran, who shot to fame playing teenager Joanie Cunningham in the 1970s sitcom Happy Days, died of a suspected heroin overdose at the age of 56 in Indiana on Saturday.

Her fellow co-stars were quick to pay tribute to the actress who spent her final years in an apparent downward spiral after it was reported she had squandered away her money and was without a permanent place to live, the Daily Mail reports.


Actor Henry Winkler even tried to help Moran nab a spot on his show Arrested Development as it emerged she had been bouncing around motels after a drunken brawl with her mother-in-law in 2012.

Child actor advocate Paul Petersen commented on the heartbreaking loss and said on Sunday that his team did its best with the actress but she "ran from the help".

Moran was seen looking worse for wear outside a Holiday Inn in fall 2012, after reportedly being kicked out of the trailer she lived in with her husband Steve Fleischmann.

The couple shared the space with Fleischmann's elderly mother after foreclosing on their California home in 2010 and blowing through $65,000 in settlement money, reported The Mercury News.

One night, Moran allegedly came home from a night of drinking when Fleischmann's mother decided she had enough and kicked her out of the Indiana trailer park home.

The two stood outside screaming profanities at each other, with the older woman in curlers and nightgown, reported Radar Online.

"Erin was going out to bars and coming home at all hours of the night, sometimes with her rowdy bar friends, and Steve's mum just couldn't take it anymore," a source told The National Enquirer years ago.

The publication claimed Erin was 'bouncing' from motel to motel and that Moran was on the verge of a split from her husband, who she married in 1993.

Her troubles were not ignored by her fellow childhood actors, as advocate Petersen said 'Erin had friends and she knew it' and they "were actively reaching out to Erin in the last week of her life".

He wrote on the Facebook page A Minor Consideration and said: "I am proud of our efforts over the years to help Erin Moran whose troubles were many and complex. Don't doubt for a moment that we tried...sincerely tried through time and treasure...to give comfort to one of our own."

Petersen said her "troubles were many and complex" and added: "Abandonment was not the issue. The perversity of human frailty is at the root of this loss, not failure.

"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."

The defeated comments were Petersen's second remarks about Moran. He had earlier posted on the page that Moran 'ran' from the help that was offered to her.

The series of unfortunate events reportedly ended in a drug overdose as a source told DailyMail.com that Moran, who lived in a trailer park in New Salisbury, Indiana, died of a suspected heroin overdose.

Her former co-stars including Winkler and Ron Howard were quick to pay tribute to her on Twitter.

Moran was remembered by former co-stars and on social media for the feisty and youthful character that she played in Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi. Photo / Getty Images
Moran was remembered by former co-stars and on social media for the feisty and youthful character that she played in Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi. Photo / Getty Images

Winkler, who played Arthur 'Fonzie' Fonzarelli in the show, tweeted just moments after the death was announced: "OH Erin, now you will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on earth, Rest In It serenely now, too soon."

Howard, who played Richie Cunningham, tweeted a tribute to his on-screen little sister, saying: "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."

Scott Baio wrote on Facebook on Sunday: "May people remember Erin for her contagious smile, warm heart, and animal loving soul. I always hoped she could find peace in her life. God has you now, Erin.'

A Burbank, California native, Moran began acting in TV and movies before she was 10 years old. She was just 14 when she signed on to play Joanie, the feisty little sister of Ron Howard's character Richie Cunningham, on Happy Days.

She became a household name as a result of her performance on the show, which started in 1974 and ran for almost a decade.

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 05: HAPPY DAYS - "Kiss Me, Teach" 1/10/84 Henry Winkler, Erin Moran (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

She continued the role in 1982 in the short-lived spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi, alongside Scott Baio, until it was canceled the following year.

More of her former co-stars commented after hearing about her tragic death. Anson Williams, who played Warren 'Potsie' Weber on the show told ABC 7:"Erin was a person who made everyone around her feel better. She truly cared about others first, a true angel. I will miss her so much... she is in God's hands".

Don Most, who starred alongside Moran as Ralph Malph on the hit sitcom, said: "She was a wonderful, sweet, caring, talented young woman... A very painful loss."

After Joanie Loves Chachi, Moran's career essentially stalled, with the exception of several television guest spots, and an appearance in the 2007 independent comedy feature Not Another B Movie.

Moran and her husband were understood to be living off a dwindling sum of money which was the result of a payout springing from a lawsuit filed by several Happy Days cast members in April 2011.

The actress and three of her Happy Days co-stars, Don Most, Anson Williams and Marion Ross, plus the estate of Tom Bosley, who died in 2010, filed a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against CBS, which owns the show.

The suit claimed cast members had not been paid for merchandising revenues owed under their contracts.

In July 2012, the actors settled their lawsuit with CBS. Each received a payment of $65,000 and a promise by CBS to continue honouring the terms of their contracts.