Actor Scott Baio has been forced to backtrack from harsh comments he made about his former Happy Days co-star Erin Moran’s death following criticism from fans.
While appearing on The Bernie and Sid Show on Tuesday morning, the actor appeared to blame Moran for her own untimely passing, saying, “you do drugs or drink, you’re gonna die.”
“I’m sorry if that’s cold, but God gave you a brain, gave you the will to live and thrive and you’ve gotta take care of yourself,” he said on the show.
The comments were quickly slammed online, with fans calling Baio “insensitive” and “nasty”. The backlash only grew as further details surrounding Moran’s death were revealed on Tuesday.
Moran, 56, was found dead on Sunday at the motel she was living at in Indiana.
While early reports suggested her death was linked to a long battle with substance abuse, a coroner later revealed that the actress “likely succumbed to complications of stage 4 cancer” and that “no illegal narcotics were found” at her home.
Baio, 56 – who was Moran’s co-star on Happy Days for several seasons, as well as its shortlived spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi, from 1982 to 1983 – took to Facebook overnight to clarify his comments, blaming his heated reaction on “fake news”.
“The internet and television stations were blasting headlines ‘Erin Moran died due to a heroin overdose’. This made me very upset and angry. This is one of my worse [sic] fears for her, or anyone else. Especially in this business,” he wrote.
“I did a live radio interview. I was asked ONLY about Erin’s troubled past due to drug and alcohol abuse. I was still upset and said I felt that living that kind of a lifestyle will catch up with you and nothing good would come of it.
“THIS WAS BEFORE THE CAUSE OF DEATH WAS ANNOUNCED STATING STAGE 4 CANCER,” he added, in all caps.
The Charles In Charge star, now a prominent conservative commentator, also suggested the backlash was largely due to his outspoken support for Donald Trump.
“It seems that every news outlet and tabloid wants to paint a different picture of me and what really happened… Now I truly understand the meaning of ‘fake news’,” he wrote.
“Erin was my very first real girlfriend… I did reach out to her over a span of 30 years,” he added.
“Please stop assuming the worse [sic] in me. I’m a compassionate person. I’m very heartbroken over her passing, especially since it was cancer.” I said “IF”. @ChaseMit . My wife @MrsScottBaio spoke to Erin less than 1 month ago. You bash me ONLY because I support Pres @realDonaldTrump??? Scott Baio (@ScottBaio) April 24, 2017
This is true I called @ScottBaio at 6 am his time woke him up-we all thought she OD’d-easy to throw stones-he’s apologized-he didn’t know https://t.co/JWBeWxNOxv??? Jill Vitale (@Flirtyflipper) April 25, 2017