Tony Moran, one of actress Erin Moran’s five siblings, finally broke the silence about his sister’s tragic death. “I didn’t even realize she was sick, never mind dying,” Tony told The Sun on Sunday. “When I found out, I bawled like a baby. I couldn’t believe she was gone.”
Erin, who was best known for her role as Joanie on Happy Days and later on spin off show Joanie Loves Chachi, reportedly kept her failing health from her siblings because she didn’t want to worry them. She died penniless in a trailer park earlier this month at the age of 56 after battling throat cancer.
In the first interview by a family member, 59-year-old Tony revealed to The Sun in a phone interview that, “Erin was a tortured soul who never recovered after Happy Days. Hollywood chewed her up and spat her out.” At first Erin’s older brother, who also was an actor, believed she must have had a heart attack after so many years of substance abuse.
Tony explained that Erin struggled to get roles in Hollywood after Happy Days ended as everyone thought of her as Joanie. Tony said that the years his little sister was on the hit show were “the most content I ever saw Erin. Her cast mates were the stable family she never had growing up.”
He describes a childhood full of turmoil with their father Edward drinking heavily and their mother Sharon abusing prescription painkillers. It seems that Erin and Tony both inherited a predisposition for addiction, with Erin turning to drugs after being told by producers to lose weight. “I never said anything. I was indulging as much as she was and none of us were mature enough to stop it,” Tony says of their destructive behavior. “I can see why she started to medicate with drinks and drug. She wanted to numb the pain,” Tony revealed.
In recent years the actress was estranged from her big brother, and the two reportedly barely spoke. In fact, Tony admitted to having felt sick to his stomach after seeing a photo of his sister looking homeless and hooked on drugs in a recent magazine. “I prayed she would sort her life out and that there would be a time when I would see her happy again. Sadly that day never came.”