LOS ANGELES — Jeff Conaway, who starred in the sitcom Taxi, played swaggering Kenickie in the movie musical Grease and publicly battled drug and alcohol addiction on Celebrity Rehab, died Friday. He was 60.
The actor was taken off life support Thursday and died Friday morning at Encino Tarzana Medical Center, according to one of his managers, Kathryn Boole. He was taken there unconscious on May 11 and placed in a medically induced coma.
Conaway had been treating himself with pain pills and cold medicine while in weakened health, said Phil Brock, Boole's business partner.
Family members, including his sisters, nieces and nephews and his minister, were with him when he died, Boole said.
"It's sad that people remember his struggle with drugs … he has touched so many people," she said. "He was trying so hard to get clean and sober. If it hadn't been for his back pain, I think he would have been able to do it."
Conaway was born in New York City on Oct. 5, 1950, to parents who were in show business. His father was an actor, producer and agent and his mother was an actress.
He made his Broadway debut in 1960 at the age of 10 in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama All the Way Home. A two-year stint in Grease on Broadway eventually lead to the movie version.
In 1978, he won the Taxi job but left the series after three years. He was unable to convert his small-screen success into a movie career.
"I got a lot of love from people, and when people stop me on the street and say, 'Man, your story touched me so much,' it just makes all this pain worthwhile, you know?" he told the Los Angeles Times in January. "I don't know where actors go after they die, but I know people who help other people have a nice place to go. And I would like to go there if I can."