Coroner Confirms Cause of Death for Actress and Music Video Star Tawny Kitaen

The model and actress died May 7 in her Orange County home.


Tawny Kitaen is seen at Rhode Island Convention Center on November 2, 2013 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Newport Beach actress and model Tawny Kitaen, best known for her roles in 1980s music videos and ex-wife of Whitesnake singer David Coverdale and former Angels pitcher Chuck Finley, died of heart disease, the Orange County Coroner's Office confirmed.

Kitaen's death was ruled natural and was attributed to dilated cardiomyopathy. Other contributing factors were mild coronary atherosclerosis, and she had mirtazapine, an antidepressant; mirtazapine metabolite; alprazolam, an anti-anxiety drug; as well as painkillers acetaminophen, pregabalin and hydrocodone in her system.

She died about 8 a.m. on May 7 in her home.

Kitaen had tweeted as recently as the day before her death, thanking a fan for drawing a picture of her. Her last Facebook post was dated earlier that week, and showed a self-taken photograph of her with the message: "When I stare at you, it's because I want to know what you're thinking. And I want to know what you're thinking, it's because I care about you. Let me know.''

Julie E. Kitaen was born in San Diego and adopted the nickname Tawny as a child. She started modeling in the early 1980s, appearing on rock album covers and soon in videos for hard-rock bands.

She also earned movie roles during this time, including a major role in the 1984 comedy "Bachelor Party'' as the fiance of the lead character played by Tom Hanks. Other film roles included 1984's ``Gwendoline,'' 1986's``Witchboard'' and 1996's ``Dead Tides.''

Kitaen starred in several videos for the band Whitesnake, most famously for the 1987 song ``Here I Go Again,'' in which she danced provocatively on the hood of a car.

She married Coverdale in 1989, and they divorced in 1991.

She married Finley in 1997 and they divorced in 2002.

Her television career included recurring roles on ``Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,'' ``America's Funniest People'' and ``The New WKRP in Cincinnati.''

Kitaen's later years featured appearances on the VH1 reality shows "The Surreal Life'' and ``Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.''

Copyright CNS - City News Service