Weekend reports of actress Tawyn Kitaen's death identified her from her sultry videos for the rock band Whitesnake, playing Tom Hanks' girlfriend in Bachelor Party, or appearing as Jerry Seinfeld's girlfriend in a 1991 Seinfeld episode.
To me, she was late night DJ Mona Loveland on the New WKRP In Cincinnati, the syndicated revival in 1991-93.
Julie E. "Tawny" Kitaen, who died at her California home Friday at age 59, was the sex symbol for the New WKRP, and was supposed to be the next Loni Anderson for the short-lived sitcom.
In 1991, Gordon Jump, Les Nessman and Herb Tarlek from the original WKRP (1978-82) were joined for the revival 30 years ago by Kitaen, Mykelti Williamson (three years before Forrest Gump), French Stewart (five years before 3rd Rock From The Sun), Hope Alexander-Willis, Marla Rubinoff, John Chappel, Michael Des Barres and Kathleen Garrett.
Producers recreated the original WKRP opening theme video, showing the Tyler-Davidson fountain, skyline, WLWT tower and Riverfront Stadium. Original WKRP producer Bill Dial was executive producer for the reboot; WKRP creator Hugh Wilson was a creative consultant.
In the remake, Williamson played program director Donovan Aderhold. He was the sane boss surrounded by a bunch of crazies, similar to her predecessor Andy Travis (Gary Sandy). Des Barres and Kathleen Garrett played Jack Allen and Dana Burns, the Burns & Allen morning team.
In the two-part premiere, Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman) heard Mona Loveland's sexy audition tape while visiting the station and said, "I've heard a thousand tapes like this. She probably looks like Walter Matthau." Of course she didn't.
When I visited the New WKRP the summer before the launch, she told me of touring with Whitesnake in the late 1980s, and playing at least one gig in Cincinnati while she was married to lead singer David Coverdale. Earlier in the 1980s, she appeared on several RATT albums and in their 1984 "Back For More" video.
"That is the one constant in my life: rock 'n' roll," she told me.
Her two-year marriage to Coverdale ended before the New WKRP premiered in fall 1991. She later married California Angels pitcher Chuck Finley, with whom she had two daughters. They divorced in 2002.
The Orange County coroner said Kitaen died at her home in Newport Beach, Calif. The cause of death has not been released, according to Variety.