Tawny Kitaen, an actress whose stunning presence in two Whitesnake videos helped propel that band’s multiplatinum albums to No. 1 in the late ’80s, died Friday in Newport Beach at age 59. No cause of death has been determined, according to numerous reports.
Whitesnake’s hits “Here I Go Again” and “Is This Love?” from the album Whitesnake helped make that band the toast of the late 1980s, thanks in no small part to Kitaen’s allure. “Here I Go Again” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987. Watch the clip below.
Kitaen was also prominent in the 1984 film Bachelor Party, opposite Tom Hanks, and in the 1984 French cult classic The Perils of Gwendoline and 2014’s After Midnight. She also had a memorable role as an aspiring actress who beguiles Jerry in a 1991 Seinfeld episode.
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Director Marty Callner, who was behind the camera for the memorable Whitesnake videos, posted on Facebook about the time he met Kitaen.
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“When I met David Coverdale, we met for lunch, he had $5, a condom in his wallet, no car insurance and was staying at the Mondrian hotel (he couldn’t afford it, but the owner liked him), singing jingles for New York Seltzer, and basically out of the business. I was approached by his manager, Howard Kaufman, who also represented Heart, who I was working with at the time. Howard and John Kolodner asked me if I would direct a video for Whitesnake, on the cheap, because Geffen records had no money to put into the project. I liked the song, and decided to go ahead with it. We made our first video, ‘Still of the Night,’ which was a 9-minute song, with some guys who didn’t even play on the record.
“Near the end of the shoot, I knew we didn’t have a video, and in walks Tawny Kitaen to my house, with David, and I immediately asked her if she would be in the video. I knew it would be the perfect layer. She had so much magic, so much charisma, so sexy, so sweet, I loved her immediately, and I knew, and was right that she would be not only the first, but the ultimate video vixen.
“Whitesnake ended up saving Geffen Records, we went onto make groundbreaking videos, including ‘Here I Go Again’ & ‘Is This Love.’ They sold millions of records, and Tawny became a bigger superstar than she already was.”
Kitaen started out on the game show To Tell the Truth in 1976 and eventually migrated into movies.
After her video success, she married Whitesnake lead singer David Coverdale in 1989. She then married Angels baseball pitcher Chuck Finley, and had two daughters with him.
Kitaen is survived by daughters Wynter Finley and Raine Finley. No memorial plans have been revealed.
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