Marion Ross and the rest of the ‘Happy Days’ cast will reunite to honor Ron Howard’s late father Rance Howard, Ross exclusively tells CountryLiving.com at the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women event in New York Thursday night. But there is one member of the classic TV family who will be sorely missed.
“It will just be the family without Erin,” Ross says. “I was very close to her and she was a very dear, precious girl.” Erin Moran, who died on April 22, played Ross’ daughter for eleven seasons on the show from 1974 to 1984.
Two days after her passing, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department and the Harrison County Coroner’s Office ruled that Moran likely died due to complications from Stage 4 cancer. However, the 56-year-old actress openly struggled with substance abuse for years. And with the one-year anniversary of Moran’s death quickly approaching, Ross wants to send a message to all parents who are considering putting their children in the entertainment industry.
“My warning would be for parents who put their kids in show business—be very careful of that,” Ross says. “Ron Howard’s parents just took him off the set and [took him] straight home. I think sometimes it’s the parents that break, not the child. She was such a smart little girl and to see her end up this way was tragic for everyone.”
Scott Baio, who played Chachi alongside Moran in the Happy Days spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi and also dated his co-star in real life, was criticized when he reacted to rumors that Moran died of drug abuse. “I’m also trying to process this loss. Erin was my very first real girlfriend,” Baio wrote in a Facebook post. “Please stop assuming the [worst] in me. I’m a compassionate person. I’m very heartbroken over her passing, especially since it was cancer.”
Baio has once again become the center of controversy recently after his Charles in Charge co-star Nicole Eggert accused him of sexual misconduct, according to reports by USA Today and other outlets. Baio, however, has denied Eggert’s allegations.
Ross, who says she is Baio’s neighbor and will see him at the reunion Saturday, tells CountryLiving.com she tries to avoid the subject altogether when they cross paths. “Scott seems to end up in the news all the time,” she says. “We [don’t] bring it up. The press is always moving fast, and they’re always looking for something. The best [thing to do] is to laugh it off, make fun of it. I have no idea. I don’t pay any attention to this whatsoever. I’m not interested.”
Ross’s book My Days: Happy and Otherwise comes out March 27. Ross shares that Howard wrote the forward and all of the cast, including Baio, wrote a chapter.