Tawny Kitaen, an actress who gained fame in the 1980s for her roles in rock 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.
Her death was confirmed by her daughter Wynter Finley, who said the cause was not known.
Ms. Kitaen became a mainstay on MTV in the 1980s when the network played music videos all day and was at its peak cultural influence.
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 music video for Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” and graced the cover of Ratt’s 1984 album, “Out of the Cellar.”
She was born Julie Kitaen on Aug. 5, 1961, in San Diego. She studied ballet and gymnastics until she was 15. After appearing in a commercial for the fitness mogul Jack LaLanne 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, who was a choreographer at the time, on the set of one video.
As Ms. Kitaen recalled, Ms. Abdul asked her what she could do, and Ms. Kitaen 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.” And then, Ms. Kitaen said, she left.
“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.”
Ms. Kitaen went on to appear on several TV shows, notably “The New WKRP in Cincinnati” in the early 1990s and most recently the comedy “Moms Anonymous” on the streaming service Seeka.
She married David Coverdale, the frontman of Whitesnake, in 1989. The couple divorced two years later. In 1997, she married Chuck Finley, a pitcher with the Anaheim Angels (now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim). They had two daughters, Wynter and Raine. The couple divorced in 2002.
Ms. Kitaen is survived by her daughters, a brother and a sister.
Ms. Kitaen later 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 that she herself was a survivor of domestic violence. After her divorce from Mr. Finley, she said, she had become 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.”
Michael Goldberg, Ms. Kitaen’s agent, said that in recent years she had appeared on various podcasts and radio shows, and that she relished talking about her role in rock history.
“People still love to hear those stories because the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle is something we all fantasize about, isn’t it?” he said. “And she lived it. And had so much to say about it.”