Tawny Kitaen, best known to soap fans for her run as Lisa DiNapoli on Santa Barbara in the 1980s, has passed away. She was 59 years old.
Tawny Kitaen — Gone Too Soon
TMZ reported the news of Kitaen’s passing, which has since been confirmed by the actress’s family on her social media account. “We are heartbroken and saddened to announce the death of our mom,” said Kitaen’s daughters, Wynter and Raine, in a statement. “We just want to say thank you [to] all of you, her fans and her friends, for always showing her such support and love. You gave her life every day. We miss her and love her and we know her legacy will live on forever.”
Kitaen passed away in Newport Beach on Friday, May 7. At press time, a cause of death had not been released. The actress, who was born on August 5, 1961, in San Diego, California, got her show business start in the 1983 TV movie Malibu based on the novel by William Murray. The film featured an all-star cast including Eva Marie Saint, Troy Donahue, Kim Novak, Susan Dey, George Hamilton, and Chad Everett. Kitaen played the part of “Mahoney’s girlfriend.” Anthony Newley played Mahoney.
In 1986, she joined the daytime world as Meredith Ross on the CBS soap opera Capitol. In 1989, the actress soap-hopped over to Santa Barbara where she played Lisa DiNapoli, a member of a new family on the NBC series. Signy Coleman (ex-Hope, The Young and the Restless) played Kitaen’s sister Celeste. Mason Capwell (Lane Davies) hired Lisa to work as a secretary at his law firm with Julia (Nancy Lee Grahn; now Alexis, General Hospital). Lisa conspired with Robert Barr (Roscoe Born), who was trying to steal Capwell Enterprises. Later, she confessed her role to Mason and left town.
Kitaen was a series regular on The New WKRP in Cincinnati and Eek! The Cat. She guested on Seinfeld, Married With Children, and appeared in Hercules movies as well as Hercules: The Legendary Journeys on which she recurred as the character of Deianeira.
Kitaen is also known for appearing in Whitesnake music videos in the 1980s. The actress was wed to Whitesnake musician David Coverdale from 1989 to 1991 and former baseball player Chuck Finely from 1997 to 2002 with whom she shares her daughters. Kitaen also appeared on reality series including The Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. More recently, she executive produced and starred in the scripted series Moms Anonymous.
“Just found out that Tawny Kitaen has passed away,” wrote Kitaen’s former SB co-star Peter Love (ex-Ric) on social media. “We’d recently gotten back in touch through Facebook. She was really funny and I enjoyed the conversations we’d had at Santa Barbara in publicist Mary Anderson’s office. Tawny made me laugh a lot. She was married to David Coverdale at the time and would occasionally drive to work in one of the Jaguars from the ‘Here I Go Again’ video. Godspeed on your next adventure Tawny.”
“So sad…Rest In Peace #TawnyKitaen,” tweeted soap veteran Barbara Campton (ex-Leanna, The Young and the Restless; ex-Maggie, The Bold and the Beautiful; ex-Mindy, Guiding Light; ex-Trista, Days of our Lives). “In the early days when we did in-person auditions, I would frequently run into her and share a nice conversation. I thought she was incredibly beautiful and had the biggest and brightest smiles.” Soap Hub sends sincere condolences to Kitaen’s family, friends, and fans at this difficult time.
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So sad…Rest In Peace #TawnyKitaen In the early days when we did in person auditions, I would frequently run into her and share a nice conversation. I thought she was incredibly beautiful and had the biggest and brightest smile
— Barbara Crampton (@barbaracrampton) May 8, 2021