”I never thought I’d get pregnant while anybody gave a shit who I was, so I’d have to answer these questions,” says Tawny Kitaen, laughing in her L.A. dressing room for The New WKRP in Cincinnati. The 31-year-old actress is in her fifth month (the father is boyfriend Chuck Finley, a California Angels pitcher whom she doesn’t plan to marry). ”It’s tough for me to say I don’t want to talk about it,” Kitaen demurs, ”but it’s only because of other people’s morals.”
The busy Kitaen also cohosts ABC’s America’s Funniest People and is the Southern-inflected voice of an 800-pound feline on Fox’s cartoon Eek! the Cat. She did a similar accent on Seinfeld last season (she inspired a chess match between Jerry’s brain and penis on screen and reportedly dated him off screen). ”I have always been fascinated by Southern belles. They’re the opposite of me,” Kitaen explains. ”They’re a lot smoother. I’m like Hurricane Andrew.”
Born Julie Kitaen in San Diego, she renamed herself Tawny at age 7 and started modeling in the early ’80s despite her modest height (she’s 5’6”). Picked for ABC’s talent-development program, she befriended a struggling stand-up comedian named Arsenio Hall. ”We were the black sheep,” Kitaen recalls. ”I was a bit of a rebel, and they didn’t know what to do with him.”
The ABC deal went nowhere, but Kitaen got her big break in 1983-playing Tom Hanks’ fiancée in Bachelor Party. Then she got her really big break — starring in a series of sexy Whitesnake videos from 1987-88. Kitaen married the band’s singer, David Coverdale, in 1989; they are now ”very amicably” divorced.
Kitaen will maintain her schedule through December, taping WKRP on weekdays, doing Eek! during lunch, and flying to Orlando on her week off for People. ”It keeps me out of the stores,” she jokes. She’s not complaining about the travel, either. ”I’m a gypsy. It’s hard to keep me in one place for too long,” she says. ”I guess that’s why God said, ‘Time to have a kid!”’