It is with great sadness that we report that it has been confirmed that Jeff Conaway, star of Taxi, Babylon 5 and the classic film Grease has passed away at the age of 60 due to complications from pneumonia and an apparent overdose of prescription pain killers which he suffered on May 11th. He was taken to a Los Angeles area hospital that day and put into a medically induced coma. Based on the advice physicians who had described his situation as “hopeless” for several days, his family made the decision to remove him from life support. Conaway’s history of substance addiction was well-documented in the media and on the VH-1 reality series Celebrity Fit Club and Celebrity Rehab.
Conaway’s manager, Phil Brock, said this to the media:
“We loved Jeff as a person, respected him as a consummate performer and entertainer. Somewhere in heaven, somebody is getting a hickey from Kenickie. On a darker side, we’re happy his personal struggles are now over. We do not have memorial plans yet. The family has asked for forbearance and privacy today. It’s a very difficult time.
Our staff has been with him through his struggle over the last few years. He is one of the nicest, kindest people. The most gentle person, and that may have been his downfall in the long run. He was a really nice guy in general, a person who would give the shirt off his back for anyone. He loved and lived to be on stage and entertaining others.
On a personal note, I shared a flight with Conaway and a female companion (not his girlfriend, Vickie, who appeared on Celebrity Rehab) in 2006 to Burbank on my way to appear on a game show in Studio City. Phil Brock’s statement mirrors my impression of him. He was a very kind and gracious man and very accessible. I spoke at length with him both during and after the flight and completely enjoyed my limited time with him. Although, even I could see that he was someone who had a long history of drug and alcohol use despite the fact that he was sober on that flight, he was nothing like the persona that was portrayed on VH-1 and I hope that people realize how greatly reality television distorts our perception of people, celebrities and otherwise. Yes, Jeff Conaway had his demons that he could never exorcise, but he was a truly decent human being.
In closing, not only would we like to thank Jeff for the years of entertainment he provided (especially on Babylon 5) and the wonderful conversation I had with him on that flight but I’d also like to thank him for doing what someone should have done a long time ago: Conaway pulled a knife on Oasis’ Noel Gallagher backstage at a Marilyn Manson concert in 2008 for mocking him. We really don’t care why he did it, we’re just glad it was done and for his efforts, he posthumously earns The TV-Tastic Bad-Ass Seal of Approval, ‘The Walken.’ Thanks Jeff, you’ll be missed.