I was sad to hear about Jeff Conaway’s death. I know it was several years ago , but it bothered me. I feel like I grew up with him. I loved the movie Grease and never missed Taxi. I wasn’t a huge fan of his, but he was just kind of always there. I got used to him. I didn’t really have any feelings for him until I saw him on Celebrity Rehab. Then I just felt really, really sad. He seemed like a super nice guy trapped inside a worn out drug ridden body.
Jeff Conaway was born on October 5, 1950 in New York. When he was only 10, he went with his mom to a casting call and ended up getting a role on Broadway. He had other Broadway shows and also did some modeling as a child. He was 15 when he starting playing in a band called 3 1/2. He was the lead singer and guitarist. They recorded four singles in the mid 60’s. Far out.
He took over the role of Danny Zuko from Barry Bostwick in the Broadway production of
Grease. John Travolta actually joined that show and played Doody in the chorus. (Doody. So many jokes…..) I’m sure it didn’t make Jeff happy that Travolta got the lead role in the movie version of Grease. Travolta was the bigger star at the time. Oh well. I think Jeff did a great job as Kenickie and I’m sure he was proud of that role.
Jeff was on Happy Days (I remember that episode) and a few other sitcoms before landing his role on Taxi. I feel like I know of Jeff more from Taxi than anything else. Jeff either left or was fired after the third season of Taxi. His drug use was allegedly getting in the way. I know he had other things after Taxi, but I don’t think anything was as big as Taxi or Grease. Maybe that depressed him which led to more drug use. I know he had some back problems which made him use a lot of pain meds, but he obviously abused other things.
- Jeff was married to Olivia Newton John‘s sister, Rona, in the 80’s. They have a son, Emerson, who is a professional race car driver.
- He was a grandfather.
- Conaway had to walk slightly stooped in Grease so Travolta would appear taller. Well, big dick.
- Jeff Conaway suffered a back injury when filming the Greased Lighting scene in Grease which was the beginning of his opiate addiction. My ex-husband began his opiate addiction with dental surgery. It’s a scary addiction that needs to be taken more seriously.
- Conaway wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up.
- He was in Pete’s Dragon. I loved that movie when I was a kid!
- Jeff was on The Bold and the Beautiful for a little bit.
- He warned Corey Haim about dying due to prescription drug abuse. Corey died in 2010. Jeff died in 2011.
Someone who identified herself as an assistant ordered some Jeff pinups from my website shortly after he appeared on Dr. Drew. She and I talked a bit via email and I expressed my concern for Jeff’s drug abuse. She said that Celebrity Rehab was all scripted and the fact that I thought Jeff was really ill proved what a great actor he was. I didn’t believe her but respected her for doing her job of protecting her client.
I’ve always thought Jeff Conaway loved himself a bit too much, but I still think he was a decent person. I’m sad for anyone who gets caught up in drugs and can’t escape. Jeff seemed to have the talent and some decent momentum after Taxi and Grease. I think he could have been very successful but the drugs took over. He died on 5/27/11. I hope he’s now in a drug-free and pain-free world.