The Orange County coroner’s office has made public Tawny Kitaen’s cause of death. The actress and model died in May at 59 from heart disease, with opioid use as a contributing factor, TMZ reported Wednesday.
According to Fox News, the manner of death has been ruled “natural.”
Kitaen was married to baseball player Chuck Finley from 1997 to 2002. She struggled for many years with alcohol and substance abuse that she partly detailed during a 2008 season of “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.” She also had a criminal record that included a 2002 charge of domestic violence against Finley, a 2006 charge for cocaine possession and driving under the influence in 2009.
Kitaen died at her Newport Beach home, and her daughters Wynter and Raine confirmed her death back in May in a statement posted to Kitaen’s Instagram.
“We are heartbroken and saddened to announce the death of our mom,” they wrote. “We just want to say thank you for [sic] all of you, her fans and her friends, for always showing her such support and love. You gave her life everyday. We miss her and love her and we know her legacy will live forever.”
A spokesman told Fox News that other significant conditions included: mild coronary atherosclerosis; mirtazapine, mirtazapine metabolite, alprazolam, acetaminophen, pregabalin, and hydrocodone. TMZ said other contributing factors included clogged arteries, antidepressants, sedatives, Tylenol, nerve pain medication and opioids.
Kitaen starred in several ’80s music videos, including the one Whitesnake’s 1987 hit single “Here I Go Again” and others. (She was married to Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale from 1989 to 1991.) She started her model career with appearances on two album covers for heavy metal band RATT. She also appeared in the video for RATT’s “Back for More” song. (She dated the band’s guitarist Robbin Crosby during and after high school.)
Kitaen played Tom Hanks’ character’s fiancée in the 1984 comedy film “Bachelor Party.” She starred as a woman possessed by a Ouija-board spirit in the 1986 cult hit “Witchboard.
In a 1991 episode of “Seinfeld,” also played Jerry Seinfeld’s girlfriend. Other credits include “Santa Barbara,” “The New WKRP in Cincinnati,” the 1984 French action comedy “The Perils of Gwendoline,” the 1996 thriller “Playback” and 2014’s “After Midnight” with Richard Grieco.
Kitaen’s death came in the wake of her father’s passing. Her younger brother Jordan Kitaen told Fox News and TMZ that the actress — he called her by her birth name Julie — had been hit hard by her father’s death.