The Orange County Coroner’s Office announced Friday that Newport Beach actress and model Tawny Kitaen, best known for her work in 1980s music videos and the ex-wife of Whitesnake singer David Coverdale and former Angels pitcher Chuck Finley, passed away from heart illness.
Dilated cardiomyopathy was identified as the cause of Kitaen’s natural death. She also had mild coronary atherosclerosis and was taking the painkillers acetaminophen, pregabalin, and hydrocodone, as well as the antidepressants mirtazapine, mirtazapine metabolite, and alprazolam.
On May 7, at about 8 a.m., she passed away in her home. Wynter and Raine, Kitaen’s children by her marriage to Finley, sent a statement on Facebook to mourn their mother’s passing.
They said, “We are grieved and sorry to announce the passing of our mom.” “We want to express our gratitude to her friends and supporters for never ceasing to offer her such love and support. Every day you gave her life. We miss and adore her and know that her legacy will endure forever.”
Even the day before she passed away, Kitaen tweeted to thank a fan for sketching a picture of her. Her most recent Facebook post, which was made earlier that week, featured a selfie of her with the message: “I look at you because I want to understand what you’re thinking. And because I care about you, I want to know what you’re thinking. Please tell me.”
Julie E. Kitaen was given the nickname Tawny when she was young. She was born in San Diego. In the early 1980s, she began modeling and quickly appeared in music videos for hard-rock bands and on rock album covers.
During this time, she also gained movie parts, including a significant one as the fiance of Tom Hanks’ lead character in the comedy “Bachelor Party” from 1984. Other movie roles included “Gwendoline” (1984), “Witchboard” (1986), and “Dead Tides” (1996).
For the 1987 song “Here I Go Again,” in which she danced provocatively on a car’s hood, Kitaen appeared in some videos for the band Whitesnake. In 1989, she wed Coverdale, and two years later, they became divorced.
Her marriage to Finley ended in divorce in 2002, shortly after Kitaen was accused of domestic abuse for allegedly kicking Finley in the face with high-heeled shoes. She entered a guilty plea and agreed to participate in a spousal abuse counseling program.
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Her television career included recurrent parts on “The New WKRP in Cincinnati,” “America’s Funniest People,” and “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.” In her later years, Kitaen appeared on “The Surreal Life” and “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” on VH1.
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