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Jeffrey Charles William Michael "Jeff" Conaway (October 5, 1950 – May 27, 2011) was an American actor best known for his roles in the movie, Grease, and two US television series, Taxi and Babylon 5. Conaway was also featured in the first and second season of the reality television series, Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. In May 2011, after spending just over two weeks in the hospital, Conaway died at the age of 60 due to complications related to pneumonia and the degenerative brain condition known as encephalopathy.
Jeff Conaway was born in the New York City borough of Manhattan. He was raised in the Astoria, Flushing, and Forest Hills neighborhoods in the New York City borough of Queens. His father, Charles, was an actor, producer and publisher. His mother, Helen, an actress who went by the stage name Mary Ann Brooks, taught music at New York City's Brook Conservatory. They divorced when he was 3, and Conaway and his two older sisters lived with his mother. He also spent time living with his grandparents in South Carolina, which gave him enough of a Southern accent that when he accompanied his mother to a casting call for director Arthur Penn's Broadway play All the Way Home, the 10-year-old Conaway landed a featured role as one of four boys. The 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning play was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play and ran 333 performances and one preview from November 29, 1960 to September 16, 1961. Conaway remained for the entire run, then toured with the national company of the play Critic's Choice.
Conaway worked as a child model, and attended high school at the Quintano School for Young Professionals. After playing with the rock band 3 1/2 for a time, beginning at age 15, he attended the North Carolina School of the Arts and later transferred to New York University.
- He is a middle child and is survived by two sisters, Carla Shreve and his younger sister, Michele Conaway.
- Father of Emerson Newton-John, a professional race car driver. Emerson's mother is Rona Newton-John, sister of singer Olivia Newton-John.
- Is a grandfather (grandson born January 1997). (Admitted this on NBC's "Later", July 6/98, with guest host Rita Sever).
- Wanted to be an astronaut when he was little.
- While filming "Grease", had to walk slightly stooped so John Travolta would appear taller.
- Though he played Kenickie in the movie version of "Grease", he appeared in the Broadway production as Danny Zuko.
- Appeared in an episode of "Murder, She Wrote" ("Birds of a Feather") as an Off-Broadway actor from New York who had been "mostly a cab driver" - a reference to his role in the TV series, "Taxi".
- Saw an episode of "Babylon 5" on TV and liked it so much he went down to the production studio to see the show being filmed. He was spotted and used for a bit part, which grew into a recurring character and, eventually, a full-time role in the series.
- Was an acting teacher and coach, with his students including James Evans , Joey Sylvester and Najarra Townsend.
- Having struggled with addiction for many years, Jeff had been trying to treat himself with pain killers and cold medicine in May, 2011. He was found unconscious in his home on May 11, 2011. He remained in a coma until his family terminated life support on May 27, 2011.
- Played guitar and sang lead as a teenager for a rock band called "The 3 1/2". The band released four singles for Cameo Records in 1966 and 1967, one of which was produced and written by Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits.
- Upon his death, he was cremated.
- He studied for a year at the North Carolina School of the Arts and transferred to New York University in New York City.
- He is survived by his girlfriend of seven years, Victoria Spinoza; his two sisters, Michele Conaway and Carla Conaway; and a son, Emerson Newton-John.
- Although he struggled with addiction problems, he was thoroughly professional on the job. After Conaway's death, fellow "Babylon 5" star, Bruce Boxleitner, stated publicly that he had never seen Conaway in any state but sober at work.
- Ex-stepfather of Tottie Goldsmith.
- Took place in the documentary, "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew", alongside Mary Carey, Chyna, Jaimee Foxworth, Brigitte Nielsen, Jessica Sierra, Daniel Baldwin and Ricco Rodriguez. [Jan 2008]