TMZ dropped the sad and shitty news today that Erin Moran, known to most as Joanie from Happy Days and Joanie Loves That Shit Head She’s Too Good For, died today. She was only 56.
Around 4pm EST, EMTs responded to a call about an “unresponsive female” at a home in Corydon, Indiana. When they got there, they found that Erin had already died. Erin’s cause of death isn’t known right now. An autopsy will most likely be done.
Erin started out as a child actor and guest starred on a few TV shows before she got cast in the star-making role of Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days at 13 years old. Happy Days ran from 1974 to 1984 and Erin was a regular during most of its run. In 1982, Erin went off to do Joanie Loves Chachi and when it got canceled after two seasons, she went back to Happy Days as a regular for its last season. Erin continued to act a little here and there after Happy Days ended.
Erin had been going through it for many years. Erin was dealing with a booze addiction and when she and her husband Steve Fleischmann were evicted from their home in California, they ended up moving to Indiana.
In 2008, Erin did Celebrity Fit Club and she instantly became one of my favorite contestants when she kept it one hundred percent real by saying that she only did the show for the money.
The Fonz and Erin’s TV brother shared nice words about Erin on Twitter.
OH Erin… now you will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on earth …Rest In It serenely now.. too soon
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) April 23, 2017
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. https://t.co/8HmdL0JKlf
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) April 23, 2017
Rest in peace, Joanie.
These shitty things really do come in threes. A publicist has confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter the sad news that Charlie Murphy, Eddie Murphy’s older brother and arguably the funnier Murphy, died yesterday after fighting against leukemia. He was only 57.
Charlie wasn’t as famous as his younger brother, but he did gain a cult following in his later years, if people can have a cult following. Charlie had a few roles in TV and film in the late 80s and early 90s and he was pretty much still known as Eddie Murphy’s brother/bodyguard or the guy who wrote Vampire in Brooklyn. It wasn’t until the early 2000s when he became famous for being himself while performing on Chappelle’s Show. Specifically, after writing and starring in a series of sketches called Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories. Charlie talked about his encounters with Rick James and his legendary “shirts vs. blouses” basketball game with Prince. We have Charlie Murphy to thank for “I’m Rick James, bitch!”
After Chappelle’s Show ended, he appeared in a bunch of movies and TV shows, and had a pretty strong voice-over career. Most recently he showed up in a few episodes of Power. He leaves behind three children. He was married to Tisha Murphy from 1997 until her death from cancer in 2009. This was Charlie’s last tweet:
One to Sleep On: Release the past to rest as deeply as possible.
— Charlie Murphy (@charliemurphy) April 12, 2017
Let’s end with Charlie telling the story about Prince kicking his ass on the court. I’d like to believe that Prince greeted Charlie at the gates of Heaven with a basketball in one hand and pancakes in the other.
The past 12 hours haven’t been great for nerds who used to stay home on Friday nights in high school watching late night TV and listening to records from the 80s. First, J. Geils, of the J. Geils Band was found dead in his home at the age of 71. Now, David Letterman’s adorable mother, Dorothy Mengering, passed away. She died at her home in Indiana yesterday. She was 95.
“Dave’s Mom” was easily one of the best parts about Late Night with David Letterman and Late Show with David Letterman. Dave’s Mom first appeared on Late Night in 1986, but she really stole everyone’s hearts eight years later when Dave got her to cover the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Dorothy might share the same name as one of the Golden Girls, but she really was a combination of all four. She was sweet, a little sassy, unintentionally sarcastic, and didn’t seem to give a shit. Like when she trolled Nancy Kerrigan during an interview by repeatedly asking her if she wanted a hot cocoa. Dorothy went on to cover two more Winter Olympic games for Late Show.
Dave also used to bring her on to talk about cooking or feature her via satellite from her home in Indiana. Like above, when Dave put a camera in her home to play a game called Guess The Pie for their Thanksgiving episode. She showed up a couple times a year on holidays. She later wrote a cook book called Home Cookin’ with Dave’s Mom.
In 2015, Dorothy suffered a stroke, but according to David Letterman, she was fine afterwards. She was married twice and leaves behind three kids and five grandkids. There’s tons of clips of Dorothy being extremely charming, but here’s one of Dorothy rehearsing a Thanksgiving Late Show segment with Richard Simmons.
Rest in peace, Dorothy.
Before you pour one out for Don Rickles, use your hand to raise an angry fist in the air for anyone who referred to him as “Toy Story’s Mr. Potato Head.” May they step on a discarded Mr. Potato Head piece with bare feet.
“Emmy-Award winning iconic comedian Don Rickles passed away at his home Los Angeles this morning as a result of kidney failure. Rickles would have turned 91 on May 8. Rickles also had great success as an actor and best-selling author. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Barbara, as well as their daughter Mindy Mann and her husband Ed, and Rickles’ two grandchildren, Ethan and Harrison Mann.”
Don Rickles became a stand-up comic after not making it as an actor. He eventually became known as a master shit talker when he’d trash hecklers at his show. The audience loved Don shitting on hecklers more than they loved the jokes he told, so he made it a big piece of his regular act. Don went on to become a regular on Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts where he did what did best: roast tricks until they were well done.
Don was also a regular on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and the Late Show with David Letterman.
Even though Don’s acting career didn’t go anywhere at first, he acted in many movies and TV after making it as a comic. Don was in several Beach Party movies, Kelly’s Heroes, Casino, all of the Toy Story movies and dozens of TV shows. Don’s voice will also be in the fourth Toy Story movie, which comes out in 2019.
Don worked up until almost the very end. Last year, he toured with fellow old coot Regis Philbin.
Rest in peace, Don Rickles. You’re now in heaven where you’re roasting God and offending the angels.
Darlene Cates, who made her professional acting debut as Momma Grape in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, died on Sunday morning. Darlene’s sister, Sheri Cates Morgan, wrote in a Facebook post that she died unexpectedly in her sleep. She was 69.
If you had told me early this morning that Bill Paxton, Mag the Mighty from Game of Thrones and Judge Joseph Wapner are taking the trip to the afterworld together, I’d tell you to stop eating edibles for breakfast, but that’s exactly what has happened. There goes another piece of my childhood.
TMZ says that Judge Wapner died this morning in L.A. He was 97. Judge Wapner was in the hospital last week with breathing problems. His condition got worse and so he was taken to his home and was put under hospice care.
Before Judge Judy, Judge Mablean, Judge Joe Brown, Judge Mathis and Judge Marilyn Milan, there was Judge Wapner! Judge Wapner served on the L.A. Superior Court from 1961-79, and in the 80s, he was cast as the star of television’s first arbitration-based reality court show, The People’s Court. Judge Wapner was on the show from 1981 to 1993. Where I lived as a kid, The People’s Court came on a little later, like at 4pm, so I used to watch it while doing my homework after school. Judge Wapner didn’t drag tricks as hard as Judge Judy does, but I still lived for him verbally slapping down messes in his court room. Judge Wapner (and the court room scenes from Dynasty) taught me how the justice system works!
The People’s Court was canceled in 1993 after ratings dropped to an all-time low. It was revamped in 1997, but Judge Wapner was not asked to star in it. He was replaced with Ed Koch and TMZ’s Harvey Levin was brought in to host. Judge Marilyn Milan is the current head judge of The People’s Court. In 2009, Judge Wapner made his grand return to the show to preside over one case.
Judge Wapner was married to his wife Mickey Wapner for 70 years and they had 3 children together.
Rest in peace, Judge Wapner. If the angels didn’t say, “one minute to Wapner,” one minute before Judge Wapner appeared at the gates, then they need to watch Rain Man again.
And now let’s end with a classic People’s Court clip featuring Judge Wapner, the show’s legendary theme song, 80s court room glamour, Doug Llewelyn’s luscious cloud of hair (either real of polyester) and talk of enemas.