NEW YORK (AP) — Scott Baio says he's "heartbroken" over Erin Moran's death and his suggestion that his former "Happy Days" and "Joanie Loves Chachi" co-star might have died of drugs or alcohol was a response to media reports.
Authorities in Indiana said Monday that Moran likely died from cancer at her home on Saturday at the age of 56.
Earlier in the day, Baio told New York's WABC radio that he was "shocked, but not completely shocked" about Moran's death, before saying that "if you do drugs or drink, you're going to die."
"She was just an insecure human being and fell into this world of drugs and alcohol," he said. He added that he didn't know if drugs or alcohol were the cause of her death.
Baio's comments drew a backlash on social media. He clarified in a Facebook post that he had heard reports that Moran died of a heroin overdose and the radio interview took place before authorities mentioned her cancer. He later posted an open letter he said was from Moran's husband explaining how the actress quickly deteriorated after being diagnosed with cancer in her mouth in December.
He called Moran his "very first real girlfriend" and defended himself as a "compassionate person."
Baio joined the "Happy Days" cast in 1977 as Chachi Arcola. He starred alongside Moran's Joanie Cunningham in the "Joanie Loves Chachi" spinoff before it was cancelled in 1983 after two abbreviated seasons.