Jeff Conaway of Taxi and Grease dead at 60
US actor Jeff Conaway, known for his roles in the television series “Taxi” and the movie “Grease,” died Friday after being in a coma for several days due to a suspected overdose, local media reported.
Conaway died in the Encino Medical Center northwest of Los Angeles as a result of complications from pneumonia, his sister Carla Shreve told the Los Angeles Times.
After several days in an induced coma, the actor’s family decided to disconnect him from an artificial respirator.
“Jeff Conaway was a wonderful and decent man, and we will miss him. My heartfelt thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this very difficult time,” Hollywood star John Travolta told E!News.
Conaway was hospitalized last June after being found unconscious in his house due to an overdose of prescription medications, said Shreve.
One of his last television appearances was in 2008 on the reality show “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” a program moderated by Drew Pinsky, a celebrity physician who specializes in addiction.
Born in New York, Conaway began his acting career on Broadway but his big break came with “Grease,” starring with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
He also became a regular on the hit sitcom “Taxi,” playing Wheeler, one of a group of New York cab drivers.
“Taxi,” which ran from 1978 to 1983, launched the careers of a host of comedic actors, including Danny De Vito, Tony Danza, Marilu Henner, Christopher Lloyd and Andy Kaufman.
Conaway later recalled in an interview that a back injury he suffered while making “Grease” led to his becoming addicted to painkillers, the start of innumerable drug problems that sabotaged his career.
On “Celebrity Rehab,” he admitted to struggling with addictions to cocaine and alcohol.