Julie E. “Tawny” Kitaen, who appeared in a variety of TV shows and in music videos for the band Whitesnake in the 1980s, and who once had a rocky, headline-grabbing marriage to baseball Chuck Finley, died at her home in Newport Beach, the Orange County coroner’s office reported. She was 59. No cause of death was given.
Police were dispatched to the home at 1:51 p.m. Friday regarding an “unresponsive female found inside the residence,” said Newport Beach Police Sgt. Steve Oberon.
Newport Beach Fire Department paramedics pronounced Kitaen dead at the scene.
An autopsy is planned for early next week.
“We are heartbroken and saddened to announce the death of our mom,” wrote Kitaen’s daughters, Wynter Merin Finley and Raine Finley, on Facebook. “We just want to say thank you for all of you, her fans and her friends, for always showing her such support and love. You gave her life everyday.”
Kitaen starred in the 1984 comedy “Bachelor Party” with Tom Hanks. She also appeared on reality TV’s “The Surreal Life,” and “Celebrity rehab with Dr. Drew.”’ She posed for a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and was known for her fetching role in a Whitesnake video, in which she adorned the hood of a Jaguar.
Kitaen played Jerry’s girlfriend in the 1991 Seinfeld episode, “The Nose Job;” appeared in “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys;” co-hosted “America’s Funniest People” from 1992 to 1994, and acted in the TV series “The New WKRP in Cincinnati” from 1991 to 1993 as a night-time DJ named Mona Loveland.
As Variety reported, the “video vixen’s” introduction to the rock world came in 1983 when she appeared on the cover of back-to-back albums by heavy metal band RATT. She was dating RATT guitarist Robbin Crosby at the time. She later became known for her appearance in Whitesnake’s 1987 smash “Here I Go Again.” She was briefly married to Whitesnake’s lead singer, David Coverdale, from 1989 to 1991.
As TMZ reported: “She went on to marry baseball star Chuck Finley — with whom she had 2 daughters — and the end of that relationship proved disastrous. Finley claimed she repeatedly kicked him in the face with her high heels and she was charged with domestic violence. He filed for divorce three days later. She cut a plea and entered a domestic violence counseling program.”
In November 2006, prosecutors charged Kitaen with possessing 15 grams of cocaine in her San Juan Capistrano home. She entered a six-month rehabilitation program in exchange for the dismissal of a felony drug possession charge.
In September 2009, Kitaen was arrested for driving under the influence in Newport Beach. She later pleaded no contest to misdemeanor DUI and was sentenced to two days in jail and ordered to attend a first-offender alcohol program and perform 64 hours of community service.
Kitaen tweeted as recently as Thursday, May 6, thanking a fan for drawing a picture of her. Her last Facebook post was dated Tuesday, May 4 and showed a self-taken photograph of her with the message: “When I stare at you, it’s because I want to know what you’re thinking. And I want to know what you’re thinking, it’s because I care about you. Let me know.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
Source: Orange County Register
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