When the news broke that “Happy Days” star Erin Moran (Joanie) had passed away at the age of 56, many assumed that the cause of death was an overdose.
Despite the fact that local authorities did not initially provide any additional information, The Daily Mail reported that her death was the result of a suspected heroin overdose — as did the International Business Times and the UK Mirror.
Her former costar, Scott Baio, gave a radio interview on Monday morning that raised a number of eyebrows. After discussing Moran’s death and the fact that she had struggled in recent years, Baio said:
“I’m OK, a little shocked but not completely shocked that this happened. My thing is, I feel bad because her whole life, she was troubled, could never find what made her happy and content.
For me, you do drugs or drink, you’re gonna die. I’m sorry if that’s cold, but God gave you a brain, gave you the will to live and thrive and you gotta take care of yourself.”
Many were quick to criticize Baio, especially since authorities revealed around the same time that Moran had likely succumbed to stage 4 cancer — and that no illegal drugs had been found in her possession:
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 24, 2017
Baio on backlash over his Erin Moran comments:You bash me only because I support' Trump – Nope Scott- you're an ass https://t.co/kcpvM0hBZY
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) April 25, 2017
— SpeakatheDevil (@SpeakatheDevil) April 25, 2017
Baio responded in a lengthy Facebook post, which read:
Saturday, April 22nd around 3:30 PM my wife received a text message saying Erin Moran had died. I couldn’t believe it. NO PRESS OR MEDIA HAD REPORTED THIS. I thought it may be a hoax. Shortly after that TMZ reported this to be true, along with every other news outlet to follow. I was sad, in disbelief, sick to my stomach, and in complete shock.
Sunday, April 23rd I sat in my office, collected my thoughts to post a statement. I wanted to remember all the best, my most fondest times with Erin. I was still trying to process this loss.
Later that evening, the Internet and television stations were blasting headlines “Erin Moran died due to a heroine overdose “. This made me very upset and angry. This is one of my worse fears for her, or anyone else. Especially in this business. I was on an emotional rollercoaster. I hadn’t slept well since the news of her passing.
Monday, April 24th at 6AM Pacific time I did a live radio interview. I was asked ONLY about Erin’s troubled past due to drug & alcohol abuse. I was still upset and said I felt that living that kind of a lifestyle will catch up with you and nothing good would come of it.
THIS WAS BEFORE THE CAUSE OF DEATH WAS ANNOUNCED STATING STAGE 4 CANCER.
Now it seems every news outlet & tabloid wants to paint a different picture of me and of what really happened. They’re stating that I’m saying drugs caused her to die after it was reported stage 4 cancer. This is so wrong! Now I truly understand the meaning of “Fake News”. This is crazy.
I’m also trying to process this loss. Erin was my very first real girlfriend. My wife and Erin contacted each other and spoke often for over a decade. I even had her on my reality show years ago. I DID reach out to her over a span of 30 years.
Please stop assuming the worse in me. I’m a compassionate person. I’m very heartbroken over her passing, especially since it was cancer.
I don’t see people going after or attacking every network that said it was a drug overdose.
I’ve openly stated my truths.
Baio’s initial response to the loss of his “first real girlfriend” was shared via Twitter 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.”