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Tawny Kitaen’s brother is opening up about one of the last conversations he had with the video vixen before her untimely death.
Kitaen was just 59 years old when she died at her Newport Beach, California home on May 7. A cause of death has yet to be released by the Orange County Coroner’s Office.
Jordan Kitaen, Tawny’s younger brother, now tells Fox News that he had a meaningful conversation with her shortly before she passed away in which he encouraged her to lean more into her faith during difficult times.
At the time of her death, Jordan says Tawny, known to him by her birth name Julie, was reeling from the loss of their father, who died in April.
“To me, my faith is central to who I am. I’ve always felt that that’s what’s always gotten me through difficult times. I’ve always felt like that would be a huge help in Julie’s life to have a more robust spiritual connection,” Jordan told Fox News this week.
Los Angeles – CIRCA 1986: Actress Tawny Kitaen poses for a portrait in Santa Monica, California.
(Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images)
Jordan stressed that Tawny had “always been such an extrovert,” and he believed she struggled when alone.
“She wasn’t great by herself. She was best in a crowd and with people. I think as a result she never fully got to know herself intimately as much as she got to know herself as a public figure,” Jordan continued.
The star 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.
She also admitted to having struggled with substance abuse during an appearance on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.” According to Variety, she had several run-ins with the law, including a charge for cocaine possession in 2006 and driving under the influence in 2009.
In this 1988 photo, Tawny Kitaen visits her younger brother, Jordan Kitaen, at UCLA during his college years.
(Courtesy of Jordan Kitaen)
Jordan acknowledged Tawny sought recovery in the past for her struggles. Leading up to her death, he recalled encouraging her to define her “higher power,” a term used in Alcoholics Anonymous.
“I told Julie she can’t do it on her own, none of us can,” Jordan recalled. “She’s been in recovery before so she knew the concept of a higher power. I told her, ‘The higher power thing is awesome but give it some substance. You can have an intimate relationship with Him if you so choose or you can reject him and embrace the world and all of its disappointments.’”
Jordan said the conversation was well-received by his sister.
“I think she was actually growing in that area. I think she just ran out of time,” Jordan said. “Or maybe not. You never know what kind of transformation happens in someone’s heart.”
Amid the highs and lows of Tawny’s decorated life, the star’s brother said the two always remained close.
Tawny’s loved ones held a small celebration of life for her this past Monday that featured speeches from both of her daughters, Wynter and Raine, as well as a musical performance of “Let It Be” by Jordan’s 15-year-old son.
“She was close with her daughters,” Jordan says of Tawny’s kids. “They took it extremely hard. But we sort of have circled the wagons around them. They’ve been strong. They both did great speaking at the service.”
In addition to her acting and dancing, Tawny Kitaen was a skilled painter, her brother says.
(Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images)
Featured on the back of the program for Tawny’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,” he said.
“She was just a natural at a lot of this stuff. She was very coordinated and a quick study,” he said.
Tawny 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 Tawny performing cartwheels on the hood of a Jaguar.
She 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 on the reality show “The Surreal Life.”
Her daughters confirmed their mother’s death on Tawny’s Instagram account.
“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.
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