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Actor Jeff Conaway Dies at Age 60

USMagazine, Friday, May 27, 2011, 11:32am (PDT)

Jeff Conaway passed away Friday morning at age 60. "Our beloved client Jeff Conaway passed away at 10:30AM," the actor's manager, Phil Brock, Tweeted.  "We loved him as a person, respected him as an artist and he will be always remembered."

The actor was hospitalized on May 11 for what was initially thought to be a prescription drug overdose. (It was later revealed that Conaway was suffering from pneumonia and sepsis, a dangerous blood infection.) He remained in a comatose state for over two weeks until his death.

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After numerous guest appearances on TV shows like Happy Days, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Kojak Conaway rose to fame thanks to a role in the 1978 classic musical Grease, in which he played Kenickie, confidant to Danny Zucko (John Travolta).  That same year, he also joined the cast of beloved TV show Taxi, playing struggling actor/cab driver Bobby Wheeler for four seasons.

He want on to land roles on soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful (1989 to 1990) plus the sci-fi series Babylon 5 from 1994 to 1998, and appeared in such films as 1988's Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark, 1999's Jawbreaker and 2001's Do You Want To Know A Secret.

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He began using drugs in the mid-1980s, and by 2008, he appeared on VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Pinsky, where he sought treatment for addictions to cocaine, painkillers and alcohol. 

Conaway frequently threatened to quit the show and refused to end his relationship with his co-dependent girlfriend, Vikki Lizzi, who also abused prescription opiates. The star had been married twice: to Rona Newton-John, sister to his Grease costar Olivia Newton-John, from 1980 to 1985; and to Michelle Conaway in 1990 (although long separated, the couple's divorce records were never unearthed).

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On May 20, Pinsky tweeted that his former patient was "stable and looks like he will recover from his pneumonia." By the next day, however, Pinksy asked fans for their well wishes. "We all need to pray for him," he wrote. "[He's] not doing well today suddenly."

After news hit of Conaway's death, agent Brock added on Twitter: "Thanks for your thoughts and prayers ...An angel in heaven will be receiving 'a hickey from Kenickie' soon."

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