‘Happy Days’ star Erin Moran has passed away

The actress was best known for playing Joanie on the sitcom.

Erin Moran – best know for playing Joanie Cunningham in American sitcom Happy Days – has passed away, aged 56.

The news was reported by THR, with no cause of death established. Police reportedly responded a to an “unresponsive female”, with the actress pronounced dead shortly after.

Moran began her acting career when she was just five years old, appearing in 1968’s How Sweet It Is! with Debbie Reynolds as well as the 1970 movie Watermelon Man. She also appeared in a number of television shows including Daktari, the Don Rickles Show, My Three Sons and the Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

Moran was cast as the little sister of Ron Howard’s Richie in Happy Days when she was just 12 years old. She appeared in the show’s 1974 debut, with her love interest Chachi – played by Bugsy Malone star Scott Baio – entering the show in season 5.

Moran also starred as Joanie Cunningham in the Happy Days spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi. The series saw Moran and co-star Scott Baio pursue their dream of becoming a famous rock band.

Moran later returned to Happy Days for its final series in 1983. She continued to work as an actor after Happy Days, appearing in TV shows including Murder, She Wrote and Diagnosis Murder as well as films such as Not Another Teen Movie.

Happy Days co-stars Ron Howard and Henry Winkler took to Twitter to honour the late actress. Howard wrote: “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”

Winkler wrote: “OH Erin… now you will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on earth …Rest In It serenely now.. too soon.”

Don Most, who played Ralph Malph on Happy Days, said in a statement, “I am so incredibly sad to hear about Erin. She was a wonderful, sweet, caring, talented woman. As I write this I can’t really comprehend this right now. A very painful loss. It gives me some comfort to know that she’s with Tom, Al, Pat and Garry. Rest In Peace, sweet Erin.”