Jeff Conaway, an actor best known for his roles in “Grease,” TV series “Taxi” and later “Babylon 5,” died Friday in Encino, Calif., after being hospitalized with sepsis, or blood poisoning, and pneumonia. He was 60.
Doctors had placed him into a medically induced coma, but the family finally decided to remove life support. It was initially reported that the actor had been hospitalized in the wake of a drug overdose.
Conaway played Kenickie in the 1978 bigscreen version of “Grease” that starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The same year he began a three-year run on the ABC sitcom “Taxi,” playing cab driver Bobby Wheeler, a struggling actor.
“Jeff was a good man,” said Danny DeVito, who also starred on “Taxi.” “I will always think of him fondly and of our days together with the ‘Taxi’ family. Finally he’s at peace.”
From 1994-98, he recurred as security officer Zack Allan on the sci-fi series “Babylon 5.”
He was a series regular on the short-lived “Berrenger’s” in 1985, had a recurring role on the soap “The Bold and the Beautiful” from 1989-90 and guested on numerous TV shows, notably appearing on four episodes of “Murder, She Wrote” as three different characters.
The actor also did three stints on Broadway, including starring as Danny Zuko in “Grease” for a time in the mid-’70s.
Conaway also did some feature work, including “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark” (1988) and “Jawbreaker” in 1999. He directed the 1992 film “Bikini Summer 2.”
Most recently he had a part in the thriller “Dark Games,” set for release in July, and was set to appear in “Miracle Underground,” a film about the Chilean miners’ ordeal. He also did voiceover work for “Dante’s Inferno Animated,” “Dante’s Inferno Documented” and “Dante’s Purgatorio Documented.”
Born in New York, he attended the North Carolina School of the Arts.
Conaway struggled with substance abuse for decades, speaking publicly about the problem at times, and had appeared on the VH1 reality series “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.”