LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Jeff Conaway, who starred in the sitcom “Taxi,” played swaggering Kenickie in the movie musical “Grease” and publicly battled drug and alcohol addiction on “Celebrity Rehab,” died Friday.

The actor was taken off life support Thursday and died Friday morning at Encino Tarzana Medical Center, according to one of his managers, Kathryn Boole. He was taken there unconscious on May 11, and placed in a medically induced coma.

Conaway had been treating himself with pain pills and cold medicine while in weakened health, said Phil Brock, her business partner.

The celebrity entertainment Web site TMZ.com reports that Dr. Drew Pinsky – who treated Conaway back in 2008 on the VH1 series “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” — says an overdose did not kill the 60-year-old actor.

“This was aspiration with overwhelming pneumonia and sepsis,” Drew tells TMZ.com.

Family members, including his sisters, nieces and nephews and his minister, were with him when he died, Boole said.

“It’s sad that people remember his struggle with drugs … he has touched so many people,” she said, calling Conaway a kind and intelligent man who was well-read and “always so interesting to talk to. We respected him as an artist and loved him as a friend.”

“He was trying so hard to get clean and sober,” Boole added. “If it hadn’t been for his back pain, I think he would have been able to do it.”

A native of New York, Conaway began his acting career on Broadway but burst onto the national scene in the late 1970s in the film musical “Grease,” along with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

“Jeff Conaway was a wonderful and decent man, and we will miss him,” Travolta told E! News. “My heartfelt thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this very difficult time.”

He also became a television regular for playing Wheeler, a cab driver, on the hit sitcom “Taxi.”

» RELATED: ‘Grease’, ‘Taxi’ Star Jeff Conaway Reportedly Fighting For Life
» RELATED: ‘Taxi’ Star Jeff Conaway In Coma Following Drug Overdose

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (16)
  1. Calgal says:

    Rest in peace Jeff!

  2. Sage Advice says:

    Say Hi to L. Ron, Jeff. Rest in space.

    Oh, and don’t forget to take your other Thetans when you leave your body. Unless, of course, you have a meeting with Xenu instead of St. Peter. Nanu-Nanu!

  3. Everyday Guy says:

    I loved him as Chewbacca.

  4. Katrynas says:

    Dear Jeff,
    It saddens me so that you didnt love or believe enough in yourself to get some help. I absolutly loved you in Taxi, you are why I watched it, I also loved Grease!! Well Jeff your demons are gone now you can rest in peace and hang out with God and everyone. Please give my grand parents, Patrick Swayze and Elizabeth Taylor a big hug for me!! See you in the funny papers.

  5. ghost marine says:

    a quiet end to a troubled man, and a troubled career.
    may you find the peace you needed.

  6. mario says:


  7. Babylon 5 says:

    RIP Jeff. May your death bring you the peace you never found in life.

  8. TT says:

    Soooo sad … All we can do now is pray for the family he left behind …a good man by all accounts … one thing puzzles me though …if he was unconscious,why did they put him in a medically induced coma – did it have to do with the pneumonia ?(like the coughing or something) anybody know ?

    1. rich says:

      yes if he had asperation phenmonia which is what happens when you pass out, vomit and swallow it into your lungs they would have put him in to the coma most likely to ease his breathing and such

  9. luanne says:

    Rest in Peace Jeff; my prayers for you and your family & friends.

  10. Jinjong Kim says:

    Really, you gotta post something like this. I hope you die the same way.

  11. bobbyg says:

    nice job, judging someone you never knew, on the day he died, when no one asked you to.

  12. TT says:

    maybe you should read… Dr. Drew” — says an overdose did not kill the 60-year-old actor.

    “This was aspiration with overwhelming pneumonia and sepsis,” Drew tells TMZ.com.
    shame on you …….

  13. grease fan says:

    I feel so sad that you lost your battle with drug addiction, and the damage it did to your body. I’m sure that you wanted to kick the habit–I’m sure it was an unbelieveable struggle. Rest in Peace. You will be remembered.

  14. FREDERIC says:


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