Actor Jeff Conaway Dies at Age 60

Celebrity News May. 27, 2011 AT 2:32PM
Actor Jeff Conaway Dies at Age 60 Credit: Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage

Actor Jeff Conaway passed away at 10:30 a.m. Friday morning at age 60, his manager, Phil Brock, confirmed to Us Weekly in a statement.

"He was taken off life support yesterday afternoon," Brock said. "His sisters, nieces, nephews and ministers were by his side when life support was removed. On a personal note, we were his representatives for the last 8 years and we loved him as a person, respected him as an consummate entertainer and performer."

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 Conaway was hospitalized on May 11 for what was initially thought to be a prescription drug overdose. (It was later revealed that he was suffering from pneumonia and sepsis, a dangerous blood infection.) He remained in a comatose state for over two weeks until his death. "There are no funeral plans yet," manager Brock said.

After numerous guest appearances on TV shows like Happy Days, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Kojak Conaway rose to fame thanks to a role in the 1978 classic musical Grease, in which he played Kenickie, confidant to Danny Zucko (John Travolta).  That same year, he also joined the cast of beloved TV show Taxi, playing struggling actor/cab driver Bobby Wheeler for four seasons.

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He went on to land roles on soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful (1989 to 1990) plus the sci-fi series Babylon 5 from 1994 to 1998, and appeared in such films as 1988's Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark, 1999's Jawbreaker and 2001's Do You Want To Know A Secret.

He began using drugs in the mid-1980s, and by 2008, he appeared on VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Pinsky, where he sought treatment for addictions to cocaine, painkillers and alcohol. 

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Conaway frequently threatened to quit the show and refused to end his relationship with his co-dependent girlfriend, Vikki Lizzi, who also abused prescription opiates. The star had been married twice: to Rona Newton-John, sister to his Grease costar Olivia Newton-John, from 1980 to 1985; and to Michelle Conaway in 1990 (although long separated, the couple's divorce records were never unearthed).

On May 20, Pinsky tweeted that his former patient was "stable and looks like he will recover from his pneumonia." By the next day, however, Pinksy asked fans for their well wishes. "We all need to pray for him," he wrote. "[He's] not doing well today suddenly."

""As much as we hate to lose Jeff, his personal struggles are now over. We know he is in a better place," Brock told Us. "We know somewhere in heaven an angel is welcoming a 'hickie from kenickie.'"

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