Tawny Kitaen, ’80s Music Video Star, Dead at 59

Tawny Kitaen, the ’80s rock’n’roll big-hair video vixen, has died at age 59. She was found deceased at her Newport Beach, California, home on Friday May 7. Her cause of death has not been formally announced.

The one-time music supermodel gained notoriety in the mid-Eighties when she appeared in British rock band Whitesnake‘s music video “Here I Go Again” that would eventually reach the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1987, becoming one of the most iconic and sexiest music videos of the 1980s.

Her remarkable sex-appeal touched the hearts of the MTV-watching generation when a white negligee-wearing Kitaen is seen cartwheeling across the hoods of two Jaguars belonging to Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale and music video director Marty Callner. In that video, Kitaen appears in 50 individual scenes in the “Here I Go Again” music visual that features Whitesnake performing on stage.

Kitaen’s popularity would ultimately lead her appear in several more Whitesnake’s music videos, including those for “Is This Love” and “Still Of The Night”. She would go on to marry David Coverdale in 1989 in a marriage that would last just two years.

Tawny Kitaen and David Coverdale in 1987.

Her association to music began several years earlier while dating glam metal rocker Robbin Crosby, guitarist for platinum-selling rock band Ratt. It was her relationship with Crosby that led to her appearance on the album covers of Ratt and Out of the Cellar, released in 1983 and 1984 respectively.

Kitaen’s acting career started just prior to her work in the music videos; she costarred with Tom Hanks in the 1984 comedy “Bachelor Party” and appeared on several hit television series, including several roles on “Married With Children” and “Seinfeld.” Although her acting career was short-lived, it was her association with music and video appearances that remained in the hearts of a generation of hard rock fans.

Tawny Kitaen’s turbulent life came with two major struggles in both love and addiction. After her divorce from David Coverdale, she had a year-long affair with NFL Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson while Simpson was married to Nicole Brown Simpson. Six years after her divorce from Coverdale, she married former Major League Baseball pitcher Chuck Finley, a marriage that produced two children, Wynter and Raine. After she was arrested and charged with domestic violence on Finley, the couple divorced in 2002, leaving Kitaen with a second failed marriage.

While it is too early to speculate the exact cause of Kitaen’s sudden death, it is known that she had a long-term struggle with substance abuse. In 2006, police were summoned for a welfare check to her home in San Juan Capistrano, where Kitaen, then 45, was arrested and charged with possessing 15 grams of cocaine. After an agreement with the court, Kitaen entered a six-month drug rehab program that would free her of those charges. Sadly, a year later, she was arrested for a DUI.

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