“Abandonment was not the issue,” says former child actor Paul Petersen about Erin Moran, the troubled Happy Days actress who died at 56 yesterday. “Don’t doubt for a moment that we tried.”
In a lengthy message posted this morning on the Facebook page of A Minor Consideration, the non-profit organization dedicated to the legal and human rights of juvenile performers, the group’s founder Petersen said that at least a half-dozen former child actors reached out to Moran in the past week. “Erin had friends and she knew it,” writes Petersen, who starred in ’50s sitcom The Donna Reed Show.
The message, titled “We Pulled Our Weight With Erin” (read it below) was the second Facebook Petersen wrote for Moran, following one that announced her death last night.
Petersen paints a sad portrait of Moran’s final days, writing, “The perversity of human frailty is at the root of this loss, not failure. We did our best with the resources available to us, but it was a very dark room. Some don’t find the light switch in time.”
Moran’s body was removed from a trailer park residence by Indiana police yesterday afternoon. She’d been living in the trailer with her husband and mother-in-law, and tabloid reports for years have documented her battles with substance abuse and financial problems.
Some of her Happy Days costars weighed in last night, and today various former child actors added their remembrances, including her Joanie Loves Chachi costar Scott Baio, Todd Bridges, Willie Aames, Maureen McCormick, Lisa Whelchel and Bewitched‘s Erin Murphy. (See their tweets below).
Petersen didn’t specify which “formers” reached out to Moran recently, but writes that “From Paris to London, from New York to LA, our members were in there pitching, doing what they could to help.”
Last night, Petersen wrote, “She was so far away in Indiana. The help she ran from was right here, as close as a call. Those of us who knew her pain and remember it so well must tonight rededicate ourselves to the task of making sure that none of our brethren pass away unremarked or feel unloved.”
Here is Petersen’s most recent message, in full:
We Pulled Our Weight With Erin
I am proud of our efforts over the years to help Erin Moran whose troubles were many and complex. Don’t doubt for a moment that we tried…sincerely tried through time and treasure…to give comfort to one of our own.
At least a half-dozen “formers” were actively reaching out to Erin in the last week of her life. These aren’t publicity photos her friends are posting, but family portraits. From Paris to London, from New York to LA, our members were in there pitching, doing what they could to help. Do not doubt that for a minute.
Erin had friends and she knew it. Abandonment was not the issue. The perversity of human frailty is at the root of this loss, not failure. We did our best with the resources available to us, but it was a very dark room. Some don’t find the light switch in time.
Last night, Petersen wrote:
Erin Moran Has Passed
It hurts to even write these words. An entire community of former kid actors is not only taking note, but will long remember this kind-hearted soul who soldiered on until at age 56 she was done.
She was so far away in Indiana. The help she ran from was right here, as close as a call. Those of us who knew her pain and remember it so well must tonight rededicate ourselves to the task of making sure that none of our brethren pass away unremarked or feel unloved.
Erin Moran lived and she mattered. Her talent and beauty were on display. Fame won young can be a cruel mistress, often outlasting the person within the purpose. Dearest Erin, you will be remembered by all those with the humility to understand what it means to say, “There but for the Grace of God go I.”
Paul Petersen, just one voice for A Minor Consideration
Today, child actors expressed their condolences. Here are tweets from Baio, McCormick (The Brady Bunch), Murphy (Bewitched), Willie Aames (Eight is Enough), Todd Bridges (Diff’rent Strokes) and Lisa Whelchel (The Facts of Life).