October 5, 1950-May 27, 2011
Jeff, in his Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew days.
In my mind, it was his greatest role.
Jeff Conaway starred with John Travolta and Oliva Newton-John in the 1978 mega-hit Grease and the popular TV sitcom Taxi. He only lasted on Taxi for three years until his drug addiction got him bounced from the cast. Things didn't improve from there. Spots on different shows never materialized into stardom and drugs continued to take their toll. The constant pain from a back injury sustained during the filming of Grease was also said to contribute to Jeff's addiction problems.
In 2008 Jeff turned up on season 1 of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. (Season 1 also had the added watchability of big-titted porn star and former California gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey.) I only watched the first two seasons both of which featured Conaway. (Season 2 teamed Jeff Conaway with Gary Busey. If they could have added Charlie Sheen it would have been the reincarnation of The Three Stooges.) Since the whole point of the show was to wallow in the spectacle of celebrities' personal demons, I don't feel bad in saying that Jeff Conaway was astoundingly entertaining in this true to life role. Entitled, arrogant, loaded and whining, Jeff brought the full-on crazy with a wheelchair and a cane and did not disappoint. In addition, his co-dependent, screwball girlfriend Vicki was easily his match and their fights were epic and comedy gold. The Lucy and Ricky for a generation of pill-poppers.
On the show when Jeff and Vicki would fight
Jeff would threaten to bash her with his cane.
Funny, funny stuff.
As a matter of fact it was on-again off-again girlfriend Vicki who found him May 11th on the floor at a friend's home where he had been staying in the San Fernando Valley. Jeff was taken to the hospital with sepsis and pneumonia and was finally removed from life support today by his family and expired.