Tawny Kitaen’s brother reacts to her cause, manner of death: ‘There’s a peaceful closure’

Tawny Kitaen‘s younger brother says he’s comforted by some of the revelations surrounding the cause and manner of her death.

The ‘80s video vixen died on May 7 at the age of 59. A spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in California confirmed to Fox News on Wednesday that she died of dilated cardiomyopathy. The manner of death was ruled natural.

Jordan Kitaen said that learning of the cause behind his sister’s death has brought him some relief. In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, he said his instinct from the beginning – that she died of a “broken heart” following their father’s death – appears to be true.

“If you recall, I speculated that she died of a broken heart. I looked up her cause of death. Naturally, you have to have a weakened heart already, which apparently she did. She would have probably kept going,” he said. “I believe it’s safe to assume that even with her weakened heart she would have lived a lot longer had it not been for my father’s death.”


Jordan previously told Fox News that the late star, whom he called by her birth name Julie, was reeling from the loss of their father Terry Kitaen, who died in April. Jordan said he now feels she was “absolutely” encompassed by grief at the time of her death. Still, learning that the manner was natural has provided some closure for her loved ones, he shared.

Tawny Kitaen died on May 7 at age 59. 
(Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images)

“When you get the news, it sort of opens up the emotions again but not nearly as overwhelming as it was with the initial news,” said Jordan. “As it relates to the actual manner of death (natural), it’s comforting to know that she went quickly, we believe, and that there was no trauma, that she didn’t suffer, and that there was no intention and there was no accident.”

He added: “The lack of suffering, the quick nature of it all, and the lack of intent, I think those are things we thought we knew but it’s just good to get them verified. I think there’s a peaceful closure to that facet of her death.”


According to the sheriff department’s spokesman, other significant conditions included mild coronary atherosclerosis; mirtazapine, mirtazapine metabolite, alprazolam, acetaminophen, pregabalin, and hydrocodone. Kitaen died at her home in Newport Beach, Calif. Her daughters, Wynter and Raine, first confirmed their mother’s death back in May on her Instagram account.

Tawny Kitaen was unforgettable star of rock music videos in the '80s.

Tawny Kitaen was unforgettable star of rock music videos in the ’80s.
(Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

“We just want to say thank you for all of you, her fans and her friends, for always showing her such support and love. You gave her life everyday,” their statement said.

The star was best known as the sultry red-haired actress who appeared in rock music videos during the heyday of MTV. She became the rock world’s “video vixen” after appearing on the cover of two albums from the heavy metal band Ratt and starring in several music videos for Whitesnake, including the 1987 smash song “Here I Go Again.”

The video, played repeatedly on the burgeoning music television network, featured Kitaen performing cartwheels on the hood of a Jaguar.

Kitaen had a tumultuous personal life. She married Whitesnake singer David Coverdale in 1989, but the pair divorced two years later. She later married MLB pitcher Chuck Finley in 1997, with whom she had two daughters. The marriage was rocky and it ended in 2002.


Jordan noted that while his older sister did struggle with some ups and downs throughout her life, it’s “comforting to know that she died at peace.”

“We will continue to cherish our memories, of the joyous times we had with her, her ability to keep smiling through thick and thin, to land on her feet after a trial and keep going — I think that’s a lesson everybody kind of needs right now,” he said.

Here, a younger Jordan Kitaen poses next to his sister, Tawny Kitaen, at a fraternity party he held at UCLA in 1988. 

Here, a younger Jordan Kitaen poses next to his sister, Tawny Kitaen, at a fraternity party he held at UCLA in 1988. 
(Photo courtesy of Jordan Kitaen)

Jordan also said the family will continue to surround her daughters with love, especially with the holidays approaching.

“This will be the first Christmas for her daughters without her and that weighs heavy on me,” he admitted. “I’m going to make sure that the rest of us come around [her daughters] this holiday season. My sister was very fond of the holidays and made a big deal out of them. They took trips to New York, she always decorated really tastefully and I imagine the girls will try to do that themselves in honor of her but it won’t be the same. We’ll be around them this holiday season and hopefully, we’ll all get through it.”


Los Angeles - CIRCA 1986: Actress Tawny Kitaen poses for a portrait in Santa Monica, Calif.

Los Angeles – CIRCA 1986: Actress Tawny Kitaen poses for a portrait in Santa Monica, Calif.
(Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images)

Kitaen also starred as the fiancee to Tom Hanks’ character in the 1984 comedy “Bachelor Party” and as Jerry Seinfeld’s girlfriend in a 1991 episode of “Seinfeld.” 

Other TV credits included a stint as co-host of “America’s Funniest People” and she appeared on the reality shows “The Surreal Life” and “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” in which she revealed her struggle with substance abuse.

Kitaen’s loved ones held a small celebration of her life in late May that featured speeches from both of her daughters, as well as a musical performance of “Let It Be” by Jordan’s teenage son. Featured on the back of the program for Kitaen’s service was a painting she did herself. 

Jordan said his sister had many talents. In addition to her iconic dancing, she was a “proficient artist.”

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