Our nation lost a true American lady on April 22, 2017.  She was the beloved American actress, Erin Moran, who was best known for her role as Joanie Cunningham on the hit sitcom Happy Days.  The show, that American audiences enjoyed so much, was about a much simpler time in America during the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Far from the complex sitcoms that are well-liked today, Happy Days was as traditional as apple pie.

Joanie Cunningham, played by Moran, was the young sister of Richie Cunningham.  Joanie came from a middle class family.  Howard Cunningham, Joanie’s father, owned a store called, “Cunningham’s Hardware.”  Joanie’s mom, Marion Cunningham, was a homemaker. Like any other family, they had their problems that they all solved together.  They also celebrated their crowning moments.


Since Happy Days was an entertaining family show, it became one of  the highest ranked programs of the 1970’s.  This family show, which aired from January 15, 1974 to September 24, 1984, was the second-longest running sitcom in ABC’s history.  Gary Marshall created the hit show Happy Days, and it is still popular in daytime reruns.

One of the most picturesque characters on the show was the Fonz.  With a snap of his fingers, he attracted ladies like a magnet.  He was the tenant and family confidant of the Cunningham family.  The Fonz always gave the Cunningham’s good advice.  Brilliantly played by Henry Winkler, the Fonz was one of the key characters that made Happy Days a success.

In the episode, “Smokin Ain’t Cool,” Joanie made her mistakes just like many other young people who are growing up. As a result of peer pressure, she began to smoke to be with the in crowd.  By giving her good advice and tough love, the Fonz stops Joanie from smoking.  He has great affection for Joanie giving her the nickname, “Shortcake.”


As a little sister, she  often prys on her older brother, Richie.   Joanie eventually grows up to live her own life.  In the episode, “Letting Go,” Joanie leaves for Chicago to start a band with her boyfriend Chachi.  This was the start of Moran’s and Baio’s new show, Joanie Loves Chachi.

In the sitcom, Joanie Loves Chachi, we saw that Moran was not only a great actress, but she was also a good singer.  As the opening credits of the show were displayed, Moran and Baio both beautifully sang the theme song.   This program focused on the ups and downs of Joanie and Chachi’s career as musicians as well as in their relationship.  In the final episode, Joanie and Chachi both tie the knot.

For her exceptional performance in Joanie Loves Chachi, Moran won the Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress in a New Television Series.  During the first season, the show did well finishing in the Top 20.  Unfortunately, the ratings plummeted in the second season when it was moved to another time.  Joanie Loves Chachi only aired from March 23, 1982 to May 24, 1983.

After the cancellation of Joanie Loves Chachi, Moran and Baio both went back to work as actors on Happy Days.  No one can ever deny that Moran was meant to play the role of  Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days.

Moran, who was born on October 18, 1960, was destined to become an actress.  Her mother, Sharon Moran, saw Erin’s potential and signed her with an agent when she was just five years old.  Throughout her acting career, she had many parts, but the one that she will always be remembered for is as America’s sweetheart, Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days.