Tawny Kitaen, Star of 1980s Music Videos, Dies at 59

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Tawny Kitaen, an actress who gained fame in the 1980s for her roles in rock music videos and who starred with Tom Hanks in the movie “Bachelor Party,” died on Friday at her home in Newport Beach, Calif. She was 59.

Ms. Kitaen’s death was confirmed by a daughter, Wynter Finley, who said the cause was not known.

Ms. Kitaen became a mainstay on MTV in the 1980s when the network was at its peak cultural influence with music videos playing all day.

With her flowing red hair and acrobatic moves, Ms. Kitaen appeared in videos for bands like Whitesnake and Ratt, coming across as both sultry and playful. She famously danced on the hood of a white Jaguar in the Whitesnake music video “Here I Go Again” and graced the cover of Ratt’s 1984 album, “Out of the Cellar.”

Julie Kitaen was born on Aug. 5, 1961, in San Diego. She studied ballet and gymnastics until she was 15. After appearing in a Jack LaLanne commercial, and in television shows and movies, she gained wider exposure as Mr. Hanks’s fiancée in the 1984 comedy “Bachelor Party.”

But it was her appearance in music videos that solidified her image in Generation X’s imagination as a free-spirited beauty having the time of her life.

She once described working with Paula Abdul on the set of one video.

Ms. Abdul, then a choreographer, asked her what she could do. Ms. Kitaen said she showed Ms. Abdul some of her moves. Ms. Abdul then turned to the director, Marty Callner, and said, “She’s got this and doesn’t need me.” She then left, Ms. Kitaen said.

“That was the greatest compliment,” she said. “So I got on the cars and Marty would say, ‘Action,’ and I’d do whatever I felt like doing.”

She married the Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale in 1989 and the couple divorced two years later. In 1997, she married Chuck Finley, a major-league baseball pitcher. They had two daughters, Wynter and Raine. The couple divorced in 2002.

Later, Ms. Kitaen appeared on reality shows and spoke openly about her struggles with addiction to cocaine and painkillers.

In a 2010 interview with The Daily Pilot, she described her volunteer work at a shelter for women who had left abusive relationships and said she herself was a survivor of domestic violence. Ms. Kitaen said that after her divorce from Mr. Finley, she became involved with a man who was physically and verbally abusive.

“You don’t want to tell anybody because you feel like a complete fool for staying — you protect them,” she said. “You do everything you can so other people don’t find out that he’s abusing you.”

Ms. Kitaen is survived by her two daughters and a brother and a sister.


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