Former ‘Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew’ & ‘Surreal Life’ Star Tawny Kitaen Dead at Age 59; Ninth ‘Celebrity Rehab’ Star to Die After Show Ended

Tawny Kitaen—an actress who appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and The Surreal Life— has died at the age of 59.

Best known for appearing in a series of sexy 1980s music videos, Tawny died in Newport Beach, California, on Friday. TMZ was the first to report her death, but a cause of death has yet to be released.

While Tawny appeared in a series of movies, music videos and TV roles, she began her reality TV career in 2006, when she appeared on the sixth season of VH1‘s The Surreal Life. During that season, she lived in a house with Alexis ArquetteSherman Hemsley of “The Jeffersons” and other assorted entertainment industry folk.

Tawny struggled with substance abuse issues. In November 2006, she was charged with possessing 15 grams of cocaine that was found in her home. One month later, she entered a six-month rehab program to avoid a felony charge.

In 2008, Tawny appeared on the second season of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, where she stated she was addicted to cocaine, as well as the painkillers Demerol and Vicodin. After completing the season of ‘Celebrity Rehab,’ Tawny was one of the only cast members from that season to decline to move into the transitional sober living home that was filmed for the spinoff Sober House.

The following year, Tawny was arrested for DUI. She eventually pleaded no contest to misdemeanor DUI. She later appeared on Botched.


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A post shared by Tawny Kitaen 🧜🏻‍♀️ (@tawnykitaenofficial)

In more recent years, Tawny was active on social media, and even was posting normally to her Instagram and TikTok on the day of her death.

While Tawny’s cause of death has yet to be determined, it is interesting to note that she is the ninth person from ‘Celebrity Rehab’ to die, with four of those people being from Season 2. Rodney King and Jeff Conaway‘s addictions were contributing factors in their deaths, while their Season 2 co-star Nikki McKibben died of a brain aneurysm in 2020.

The remaining ‘Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew’ cast members who passed away after appearing on the show include Season 1’s Joanie “Chyna” Laurer in 2016, and Season 3’s Mindy McCreadyJoey Kovar and Mike Starr

In February, Tawny reunited with other ‘Celebrity Rehab’ alum on Dr. Drew’s Dose of Dr. Drew


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A post shared by Tawny Kitaen 🧜🏻‍♀️ (@tawnykitaenofficial)

Back in 2013, Dr. Drew declared that he was “done” with doing ‘Celebrity Rehab,’ because he was tired of being blamed when one of the people who appeared on the show died.

“I’m tired of taking all the heat. It’s just ridiculous,” Dr. Drew said on a radio program that year. “To have people questioning my motives and taking aim at me because people get sick and die because they have a life-threatening disease, and I take the blame? Rodney King has a heart attack and I take blame for that?”

Dr. Drew has yet to publicly make a statement regarding Tawny’s death. However, Tawny’s daughters, Wynter and Raine, released a statement via their mother’s Instagram on Saturday.

“We are heartbroken and saddened to announce the death of our mom,” they wrote. “We just want to say thank you for all of you, her fans and friends, for always showing her such support and love. You gave her life everyday. We miss her and love her and know her legacy will live on forever.” 


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A post shared by Tawny Kitaen 🧜🏻‍♀️ (@tawnykitaenofficial)

(Photos: Instagram)


  1. Tawny Kitaen was actually the 10th Celebrity Rehab celebrity to die. In February 16, 2020, Jason Davis of Celebrity Rehab season #4. Jason died from fentanyl use.

    1. Sorry. Conaway. My phone does autocorrect to Conway but I may have typed it wrong as well..

  2. I don’t like Dr. Drew and think he is a hack. That said, I’m also a thirteen years recovering addict so I know…we don’t all make it. Do I think their pain should have been exploited for realty TV when none of them were in headspaces to honestly consent? No. It was trash TV. Did Dr. Drew kill these people? Also no. And not all of them overdosed. Rodney King and Jeff Conway were both seriously ill from the long-term effects of drug use. Mindy McCready took her own life. I remember that one because it shook me because I remember her being my first concert as a kid when she opened for Tim McGraw. I don’t like defending Dr. Drew. But this ain’t on him. Teen Mom trash…that’s on him.

    1. Congrats on your recovery. One day at a time.

      Agreed on this not being all on him and the show being trash. It was. It was ppl down on their luck being our entertainment, lack of a better word.

      The choices they made after the cameras weren’t rolling isn’t on Drew, but it’s not like he’s actually treating them as well. Had this been a serious rehab, the cameras wouldn’t even be there. I liked Sober House bc I wanted to see real success stories happen. I think thats the draw. We want to see the fall and the rise again.

    2. Congrats on your 13 year sobriety! Wishing you strength, support and love to keep up the fight to remain sober but many many more years. It really is a shame there is such a market for reality tv’s monetizing of people’s pain to line the pockets of networks and producers but not necessarily the ppl being filmed. Celebrity Rehab, Sober House, Intervention, The Swan, Botched, 600lb life, Biggest Loser and many other shows. While he and other producers are not responsible for the deaths of previous contestants/subjects/reality stars, they are still The Profiteers of Pain in my eyes (the pain is ours when it comes to Teen Moms and RHW’s lol). Congrats again on your sobriety.

  3. Poor Tawny. You always think that someone that beautiful would just have the perfect life. In later years she seemed so tormented and lost. I’m sad that she couldn’t find peace for the sake of her daughters.

  4. “I’m tired of taking all the heat. It’s just ridiculous,”

    That TV show may have saved a life. Maybe a celeb who appeared or a fan who watched and was able to recognize addiction in themselves.

    I don’t hold him personally responsible. A lot of the celebs were deep deep in addiction. Mike Starr was one. Another was Janie Lane. Jeff Conway was bad into pills and Joey Kovar did everything iirc.


    I dont like Dr Drew. I think hes a quack and a hack and an day rare actor playing a role at the end of the day, but its very unrealistic to hold him entirely responsible for what adults who are lifelong addicts do once they leave his “””care””””.

    1. Shit.

      RIP Tawny. You were a hot video model and kind of opened the door for that to be a viable career choice.

      We wouldn’t have the IG models today if it weren’t for Tawny yesterday.

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