Jeff Conaway 1950-2011
Actor Jeff Conaway passed away today after doctors took him off of life support. The actor was in a medically-induced coma after suffering from an overdose of painkillers. This was after a long battle with drug abuse, much of which occurred in front of the world via reality television, as Dr. Drew tried to help Conaway on several of his rehab TV series. It seems a shame both that he had not only this problem, but also that a whole generation probably only knows him as that wrecked old drug addict on TV.
Jeff Conaway had a long career before crashing and burning, he was on television and film, and was prolific with both. He played Kenickie in Grease, and was a member of the long-running ensemble sitcom “Taxi,” until eventually being fired for drug use, a specter that haunted him even then. I remember also in Disney’s Pete’s Dragon and even though I never watched it, I know he was also a regular on “Babylon 5.”
What I remember Jeff Conaway most for, and while this marks me for not being with the Grease or “Taxi” or even rehab crowds, it cements my nerd cred. I remember him in “Wizards and Warriors.” This high adventure/subtle comedy TV series, mostly directed by Bill Bixby, was CBS’ way of cashing in on the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy demographic. It soon became evident that those folks didn’t watch prime time TV, or at least that show, and it was canceled after just a handful of episodes. I still dug Conaway as the square-jawed hero. playing it straight and standing above. Would love to see that on DVD someday.
No matter how you remember Jeff Conaway, he will be missed, and remembered.