Julie Ellen "Tawny" Kitaen (born August 5, 1961, died May 7, 2021) is an American actress and media personality. Kitaen became famous in the 1980s for appearing in several hard rock videos for the band Whitesnake including the hits: Here I Go Again and Is This Love. Kitaen was married to Whitesnake lead singer David Coverdale from 1989 until 1991 and to baseball player Chuck Finley from 1997 until 2002. She had recurring parts on multiple television series including: Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and co-hosted America's Funniest People (replacing the controversially dismissed Arleen Sorkin) from 1992 until 1994. She was arrested for drug possession in 2006 and has been in and out of rehab programs. In addition, she was part of The Surreal Life cast in 2006 and was one of the panelists in season 2 of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
Personal Life[edit | edit source]
Kitaen was born in San Diego, California in 1961, the daughter of Linda (nee Taylor), a housewife and former beauty pageant participant, and Terry Kitaen, an employee of a neon sign company. She was raised in her father's Jewish religion. Julie began using her name "Tawny" at the age of 12, on her own initiative.
Kitaen married David Coverdale in 1989, but the two divorced in 1991. After her marriage to Coverdale ended, she married baseball pitcher Chuck Finley in 1997. They had two daughters, Wynter Finley in 1993, and Raine Finley in 1998. Kitaen appeared as a feature of professional athletes and their wives in the 1999 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Career[edit | edit source]
Kitaen began her acting career in 1983 with a minor role in the television movie, Malibu. In 1984, she starred as the title character of the erotic-adventure movie The Perils of Gwendoline in the land of the Yik-Yak (a.k.a Gwendoline). She also co-starred in the movie Bachelor Party as the bride-to-be of a young Tom Hanks and was the star of the 1986 horror movie Witchboard.
She also starred in the not-so-well-known film Crystal Heart in 1986.
Kitaen became associated with the glam metal scene because of her high school sweetheart, Ratt guitarist and founder Robbin Crosby. Her legs appeared on the cover of Ratt's self-titled EP wearing black fishnet stockings and red pumps, pictured with white mice climbing up her legs. Then in torn clothes, she appeared on the cover of Ratt's Out of the Cellar. She also can be seen at the beginning of the Ratt video Back for More as the girl in the 1950s-style skirt at the jukebox.
In 1987, her then-boyfriend was David Coverdale, the lead singer of Whitesnake, and she appeared in several of the band's music videos, the most famous was Here I Go Again, in which she did splits and rolled around on the hood of two Jaguars while wearing a white negligee. She also appeared in Is This Love and Still of the Night. In 1989, she appeared in the video for The Deeper the Love and Fool For Your Loving.
After her music video appearances, Kitaen took a number of television roles. She was co-host of America's Funniest People (opposite Dave Coulier) from 1992 until 1994 and was a regular cast member on The New WKRP in Cincinnati from 1991 until 1993. She guest-starred in "The Nose Job" on the sitcom Seinfeld in 1991 and in Season 9, Episode 1 of Married...with Children called "Shoeway to Heaven" in 1994. She had a recurring role as Hercules' wife Deianira in three of the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys television movies in 1994 and then in the regular television series. From 1992 until 1996, she provided the voice of Annabelle in the FOX animated television series Eek! The Cat.
Kitaen was one of the casts of the sixth edition of The Surreal Life which began airing on VH1 in March 2006. in addition, in late 2007, she appeared in Rock of Love season 1. Kitaen also appeared in the second season of the VH1 reality TV show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew which began airing in October 2008. Dr. Drew Pinsky voiced concern for her use of triazolam after she admitted to using more than 0.5 mg peruse. Pinsky guaranteed her that taking the drug (as with any benzodiazepine) in such high doses will eventually cause her to have a seizure. For fear of her life, Pinsky cut the dosage in half, despite Kitaen's protest.
Legal Troubles[edit | edit source]
In 2002, Kitaen was charged with domestic violence for an incident involving her then-husband, professional baseball player Chuck Finley. Three days later, Finley filed for divorce. After a plea bargain, Kitaen agreed to "enter a spouse battery counseling program and avoid contact with Finley. The couple were married for five years and have two daughters, Wynter and Raine.
In November 2006, prosecutors charged Kitaen with possessing 15 grams of cocaine in her San Juan Capistrano home in Orange County. The authorities said her two children were home at the time and Kitaen had given deputies permission for the search. in December 2006, she entered a six-month rehabilitation program in exchange for the dismissal of a felony drug possession charge.
On September 26, 2009, Kitaen was arrested for driving under the influence in Newport Beach, California.
Death[edit | edit source]
On May 7, 2021; Kitaen died at her Newport Beach home at the age of 59. Her death was confirmed to The New York Times by her daughter Wynter Finley, who told the paper that the cause of death was not immediately known.