Erin Moran didn’t tell her siblings she had cancer.
The former ‘Happy Days’ actress passed away earlier this month and the news came as a shock to her brothers and sisters as they had no idea she’d been battling the disease for several months and even initially assumed her untimely death at the age of 56 was a result of years of substance abuse.
Her brother Tony said: "I didn’t even realise she was sick, never mind dying. When I found out I bawled like a baby. I couldn’t believe she was gone.
"My first thoughts were she must have had a heart attack caused by years of substance abuse.
"She has always battled demons and in recent years things have gone from bad to worse.
"We were raised by a mum and dad who were not fit to be parents. She found true happiness on ‘Happy Days’ and was America’s sweetheart.
"But then she was a nobody . . . and it broke her heart.
"I think in her final months she’d had enough of living after all she had been through and was just ready to go.
"I wish I had got a chance to tell her how much I loved her. I pray she finds the peace she never found when she was alive."
The ‘Halloween’ actor admitted he has worried about Erin since she was 16 and believes she turned to drugs after ‘Happy Days’ bosses ordered her to lose weight.
He told The Sun on Sunday newspaper: "The pressure to look a certain way was relentless and that fuelled her drug taking. She never felt pretty or thin enough.
"She was about 16 when she started to drink and smoke pot. I was worried about her then.
"Then it was speed and cocaine. I never said anything. I was indulging as much as she was and none of us were mature enough to stop it."
And things only got worse when ‘Happy Days’ was cancelled and Erin’s star began to fade.
Tony added: "Erin loved fame, so when she didn’t have it any more she fell apart.
"It was a false love but the only one she really knew.
"She thought of herself as a failure. As each day, each week, each month and each year went by without the phone ringing, the panic she felt became all-consuming.
"I can see why she started to medicate with drink and drugs. She wanted to numb the pain."
Erin – who died in her trailer park home with husband Steven Fleischmann by her side – had little contact with her family in recent years but Tony was still concerned for her health.
He said: "The last photo I saw of Erin was in a recent magazine article about her being homeless and hooked on drugs.
"Looking at that photo of her ravaged face I felt sick to my stomach. She looked like she was about to die.
"Erin was a strong, ballsy woman who never wanted to accept help from anyone.
"I prayed she would sort her life out and that there would be a time when I would see her happy again. Sadly that day never came."