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Jeff Conaway of 'Grease' and 'Taxi' in critical condition after apparent overdose

May 18, 2011 |  2:01 pm

Conaway Jeff Conaway, who gained fame from his roles in the film "Grease" and the TV series "Taxi" before succumbing to substance abuse that landed him on reality shows dealing with rehabilitation ("Celebrity Rehab" and "Celebrity Fit Club"), is in critical condition following an apparent overdose.

Family members of Conaway, 60, said he has been hospitalized at Encino Hospital Medical Center with pneumonia and is unconscious.

Conaway became a star in 1978 when he costarred with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in the hit movie musical "Grease." He played Kenickie, the swaggering but sensitive member of the T-Birds gang who was the confidant of leader Danny Zuko (Travolta). 

He then made a splash as struggling-actor-turned-taxi-driver Bobby Wheeler in the popular sitcom "Taxi," which debuted in 1978. The actor left the show in the fourth season, apparently due to clashes and creative differences on the set.

Even though he went on to other series and movies, including a regular role on the sci-fi series "Babylon 5," Conaway was never able to match his earlier stardom. And in recent years, his troubles with substance abuse have been extensively documented on reality television. "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" on VH1 found Conaway seeking treatment for addiction to cocaine, painkillers and alcohol. He also had a back problem due to an injury, which made it increasingly difficult for him to walk. Conaway became one of Dr. Drew Pinsky's most agitated patients, repeatedly threatening to quit and refusing to give up his co-dependent relationship with his girlfriend.


'Celebrity Rehab' walks the line between treatment and performance

-- Greg Braxton

Photo: Jeff Conaway at the 2009 Fox Reality Channel Really Awards. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press