April 9, 2009
Jeff Conaway, Star of 'Taxi' and 'Grease,' Dies at 60
By Erik Pedersen and Andy Eiser, The Hollywood Reporter | Friday, May 27, 2011, 12:17 PM1096 comments Shareretweet
Jeff Conaway in March 2006
Jesse Grant/WireImage.comJeff Conaway, the troubled actor of "Taxi" and "Grease" fame whose addiction problems were well chronicled for years by reality TV and the media, has died, reports the Los Angeles Times. He was 60.
He was taken off life support Thursday (May 26) and died Friday in Encino, nine days after being put into a medically induced coma.
Conaway's manager Phil Brock said the actor was found unconscious May 11 after an apparent overdose of painkillers. Reports said he might have been in that state for 10 hours before being found. Brock said the actor was suffering from pneumonia and already was sick at the time of the overdose.
The actor discussed his addiction struggles as part of the VH1 reality show "Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew" in 2008. He was a team captain for Season 3 of the cable outlet's "Celebrity Fit Club" in 2006 but struggled and left after three episodes to enter rehab.
Conaway was on the record as saying producers of those reality shows told him to amp up the drama, and he told THR's Shirley Halperin in a March 2009 interview: "I think people are just enamored with other people's problems because they have enough of their own, and they want to stop thinking about their own and think about somebody else's for a while. I think that's what television is all about, really."
Conaway was born Oct. 5, 1950, in New York and began acting as a child; his first Broadway credit was 1960's "All the Way Home." He later was an understudy in the long-running original Main Stem production of "Grease" and eventually took over the lead role of Danny Zuko. He also toplined the ill-fated 1985 Broadway musical "The News," which ran for only four performances.
Conaway got his big break with NBC's sitcom "Taxi," playing the vain struggling actor/cab driver Bobby. The show was a critical hit but struggled in the ratings despite its cast of stars including Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito, Tony Danza, Marilu Henner, Christopher Lloyd and Andy Kaufman. Conaway was nominated for Golden Globes in 1979 and '80 but left the show after the third season, though he guest-starred in two episodes during Season 4.
He is perhaps best known for co-starring as Kenickie in the 1978 film adaptation of "Grease," the highest-grossing musical domestically with $188.4 million. Conaway featured prominently in two of the film's most popular musical numbers, which also were released as singles: "Summer Nights," which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and "Greased Lightnin'," which failed to crack the Top 40.
Conaway had scores of roles during his 40-year career in TV and film, including a 1989-90 stint on the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful." His most prominent post-"Taxi" TV role was as Zack Allan on the cable sci-fi series "Babylon 5" from 1994-98. He also appeared in three "Babylon" telefilms during the late '90s.
He mostly did TV guest roles on such shows as "Murder, She Wrote," "Happy Days" and "Barnaby Jones." His film credits include "The Eagle Has Landed" (1976), "Pete's Dragon" (1977) and "Elvira: Mistress of the Dark" (1988). He also wrote and directed the 1992 direct-to-video sequel "Bikini Summer 2."
But Conaway's name most often surfaced in connection with his drug and alcohol problems. U.K. newspaper the Mirror reported that he pulled a knife on Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis backstage at a Marilyn Manson concert in Los Angeles in May 2008.
While attempting to clean up after that incident and his "Dr. Drew" appearance, the troubled actor fell down a staircase in January 2010 and suffered a fractured neck and a brain hemorrhage, as well as a broken hip and arm. He was released from a nursing facility in April 2010 and was said at the time to be weaning off painkillers, an addiction stemming from an earlier back surgery.
"Unfortunately, most people think: 'It's not gonna happen to me. You'll see; I can do it.' But, it does happen to you," Conaway told Halperin. "Before you know it, you're hooked and locked down. And it's not a pretty ride."
Brock said Conaway had a rough childhood. "When he was 7 years old, his grandmother let him taste the moonshine she made in her bathtub; when he was 10 and a child actor, his dad took all his money and ran away," Brock told Reuters. "Later, Jeff had the world in his hand and would find ways to destroy it."
Brock said that during the past month, "Grease" co-star John Travolta offered to pay for Conaway to go to rehab. "Jeff wasn't opposed to it, but he wasn't ready yet," Brock said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
April 9, 2009
Yeah, I saw that..addiction destroyed his life..but he touched so many others before he left this world
Willie Wonka quotes..
What is this Wonka, some kind of funhouse?
Why? Are you having fun?
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.
We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams
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