In high school, she started dating Robbin Crosby, guitarist for the glam-metal band Ratt, leading to her appearance on the covers of the 1983 EP “Ratt” and the 1984 album “Out of the Cellar.” Around the same time, she began her acting career with a small role in the 1983 ABC telefilm “Malibu,” starring James Coburn and Kim Novak.
By 1984, she had a starring role in the French action comedy “Gwendoline” and appeared opposite Tom Hanks in the comedy “Bachelor Party.” In 1986, she starred in the cult horror film “Witchboard” as a young woman who learns the hard way not to mess with a Ouija board. Kitaen would later put her comic sensibilities to use on ABC’s “America’s Funniest People,” which she hosted from 1992 to 1994.
Kitaen’s high-profile relationships often overshadowed her professional life in the media. Her marriage to Coverdale ended in 1991, and in 1997 she wed Angels pitcher Chuck Finley. After Kitaen was charged with domestic violence for allegedly striking Finley in 2002, the couple divorced, and she vowed to get treatment for substance dependency.
In 2006, she entered the world of reality TV, joining the cast of “The Surreal Life,” and in 2008, she shed light on her personal struggles on the reality series “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.”
“Tawny has had an amazing journey since the first time I met her,” Finley told the Daily Pilot in 2010. “And though there have been bumps in the road, which we all experience, I could not be more proud of where and who she is today.”
Meanwhile, the fans who had adored her since the ’80s still flocked to meet her at conventions. And over the years, industry figures increasingly recognized her contributions to rock history — celebrating, for starters, her famous “Here I Go Again” video.
“I don’t know a person in the universe who didn’t melt when Tawny got on top of that car,” Lady Gaga told Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum in 2011’s “I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution.” “That was one of the greatest moments in video history. I mean, I wish I could steal that moment every day.”
In recent years, Kitaen connected with fans on social media, sharing candid musings. At the time of her death, she was working on wellness and spiritual growth, said Jordan Kitaen, “which doesn’t always happen living the life she lived when she was younger.”
“I think people can relate to people who have been broken at times,” said Jordan, who followed Tawny into the entertainment industry, co-founding L.A. based Quixote Studios. “She was a warrior. She had her demons, but she fought. It wasn’t easy sometimes to get through every day, but she kept fighting. We’re really proud of her.”
Kitaen is survived by her daughters Wynter and Raine Findley.©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.