Well, Crunchers, it looks like we’re kicking Memorial Day Weekend into high gear with a serious case of “The Sads.” Jeff Conaway has died. The ’70s star best remembered for his appearances on TV’s Taxi and in the big screen musical-comedy Grease passed away Friday after being removed from life support, his manager Phil Brock tells E! News.
“We know his struggles against addiction are finally over,” Brock said in a statement this afternoon. “Jeff had legions of fans who loved him. Sometimes I wish he had known that.”
Conaway, 60, had been battling pneumonia and sepsis, a potentially deadly blood infection, caused by a bacterial infection, when he was placed in a medically-induced coma at the Encino Tarzana Hospital Medical Center earlier this month. He died there at approximately 10:30 AM Friday, surrounded by family. The Conaway Family made the decision to remove the tortured actor from life support on Thursday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Vikki Lizzi, Conaway’s on-again/off-again girlfriend claims she has power of attorney over the actor’s estate and tried to block the move.
Jeff, who played rocker Kenickie in 1978’s Grease has famously battled addiction to cocaine, painkillers, and alcohol. He was found unconscious in his Los Angeles home after suffering a drug overdose on May 11. It was only a few weeks ago that Conaway confided in reporters about the chronic pain he’d struggled with ever since he fell down a staircase and suffered a broken hip, a fractured neck, and a brain hemorrhage in 2010. Jeff’s Memorial Day Eve passing is eerily similar to that of former child star Gary Coleman. He also passed away last May after taking a fall in his home.
Conaway — whose acting credits include a spot on TV’s Babylon 5 — discussed his addiction to drugs and alcohol as part of the cast of VH1’s Celebrity Rehab in 2008. He would become one of Dr. Drew Pinsky’s most agitated patients.
Conaway’s Grease co-star John Travolta released a statement upon learning of his friend’s death.
“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.”
May Jeff find the peace in death that often seemed to allude him in life.