The Not So Happy Days of Actress Erin Moran

The sudden death of Happy Days actress Erin Moran at the age of only 56 came as a shock to a lot of us who remember her, and will always remember her, for her role in Happy Days.

She played Joanie Cunningham, the kid sister to high school student Richie Cunningham, who was played of course by Ronnie Howard.

But her death was not as much of a shock to people who knew her. She was described as having been in a tailspin for several years, with money problems, marital problems and drinking and addiction problems.  And was reportedly even homeless for a while.

Her death has renewed conversations about child stars and the problems they often face in adult life.  If you Google child stars as adults, you will see a lot of sad and tragic stories.

So what happens to these child stars?  And why do some of them go on to great things, as did award winning director Ronnie Howard, while others like Erin Moran, end up as she did?

Moran’s life began basically in Hollywood and showbiz. She was born in Burbank and before she was 10 years old, she began acting in TV and movies.

Her life was probably certainly different than kids who grow up without the early spotlight on them in showbiz.  Does the early fame and the money that comes along with as well as the pressure from others and maybe even your own family lead to the kind of problems Erin Moran and others like her have had?

She once told an interviewer that she was working on a memoir, called "Happy Days, Depressing Nights.  Maybe it was her way of asking for help.  You have to hope that even her unwritten story, her story, will lead to others like her getting the help they need.

(Photo credit Getty Images)

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