Skip to Content

Last week, Erin Moran, best known for playing Joanie on Happy Days, passed away after a short but brutal battle with cancer.

We hadn’t heard anything about her in a while, with the latest reports before her death being about her struggles with money and how she’d become homeless.

But now Erin’s brother, Tony Moran, is filling the public in with some details about her that we never knew.

And every last one of them is absolutely heartbreaking.

Tony says that Erin hadn’t told him or any of their four other siblings about her cancer, and when he learned of her passing, he, like many others, assumed it was because of her struggles with addiction.

“I didn’t even realize she was sick, never mind dying,” he reveals. “When I found out I bawled like a baby. I couldn’t believe she was gone.”

“My first thoughts were she must have had a heart attack caused by years of substance abuse.”

Erin Moran

Tony says that “She has always battled demons and in recent years things have gone from bad to worse.”

“We were raised by a mom and dad who were not fit to be parents. She found true happiness on Happy Days and was America’s sweetheart, but then she was a nobody … and it broke her heart.”

According to him, those ten years that Erin spent playing Joanie on Happy Days were “the most content I ever saw Erin,” and “her castmates were the stable family she never had growing up.”

He says that growing up, their father was “a violent man who ruled our home with fear and physical abuse,” while their mother “lived her life through Erin,” and “when she wasn’t on set with her, she was in bed off her head on painkillers.”

Since Erin achieved fame at such an early age, she was never the direct victim of their father’s rage, “but she witnessed it all and longed to have parents who were loving instead of the horrible parents they were.”

Tony reveals that Erin first began experimenting with drugs when she was a teenager, after some Happy Days higher ups asked her to lose weight.

“The pressure to look a certain way was relentless and that fuelled her drug taking. She never felt pretty or thin enough,” he remembers.

“She was about 16 when she started to drink and smoke pot … Then it was speed and cocaine. I never said anything. I was indulging as much as she was and none of us were mature enough to stop it.”

During those years, Tony says that Erin spent money recklessly on anything and everything she wanted, but “it was too much, too young,” and when Happy Days ended, she struggled to get more jobs.

“Nobody wanted to book her, as everyone thought of her as Joanie,” he says. “I cannot begin to imagine how hard that was for her.”

“Erin loved fame, so when she didn’t have it any more she fell apart. It was a false love, but the only one she really knew.”

He says that she “thought of herself as a failure,” and used drugs and alcohol to numb that pain.

“I think in her final months,” he imagines, “she’d had enough of living after all she had been through and was just ready to go.”

“I wish I had got a chance to tell her how much I loved her. I pray she finds the peace she never found when she was alive … She had such a huge heart, it was just too big for Hollywood.”

Again, our condolences to Tony and the rest of Erin’s family. It seems they lost a truly wonderful woman.