RIP: Tawny Kitaen

Tawny Kitaen, the model and actress, died yesterday at the age of 59.  No cause of death has been released.

Born Julie Kitaen, she began using the nickname Tawny while still in junior high.  Kitaen, who was dating Ratt band member Robbin Crosby while she was still in high school, appeared on Ratt’s first two album covers.  In 1984, she earned a part in the Tom Hanks’ comedy, Bachelor Party.  In 1987, Kitaen rocketed to fame after appearing in three Whitesnake music videos.

Tawny Kitaen’s career spanned 36 years with 45 acting credits.  She was a regular on The New WKRP in Cincinnati which ran for 2 seasons.  Other notable roles included characters on Seinfeld, Married with Children, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.  

Tawny Kitaen’s private life got as much press as her professional career.  In 1989, she married Whitesnake lead singer,  David Coverdale.  They divorced in 1991.  She had an affair with O.J. Simpson while he was married to Nicole Brown Simpson.  In 1997, she married professional baseball player, Chuck Finley.  They had two daughters during their five year marriage which ended in 2002.

I’ll always remember Tawny Kitaen from her appearances in the Whitesnake videos.  I was teaching junior high at the time and 9 out of 10 boys had pictures of her on their notebooks and in their lockers.  According to Marty Callner, who directed the famous Whitesnake videos:  “She (Tawny Kitaen) had so much magic, so much charisma, so sexy, so sweet, I loved her immediately, and I knew, and was right that she would be not only the first, but the ultimate video vixen.”  Who can argue with that?

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tawny Kitaen’s family, friends and fans.