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'Grease' Star Jeff Conaway Passes Away After Being Taken Off Life Support

Fri, May 27, 2011 2:39pm EDT by HL Intern Add first Comment

So sad! Jeff Conaway’s family confirmed the ‘Taxi’ and ‘Grease’ actor died today in LA after being found unconscious at his home on May 18

Actor Jeff Conaway—who recently appeared on Celebrity Rehab to battle his addiction to cocaine, painkillers and alcohol— passed away today in LA, after falling into a coma. He was 60.

The actor’s family decided on Thursday to turn off the life support machine that he had been clinging to since being hospitalized May 18, after he was found unconscious in his San Fernando Valley home. It was initially reported that Conaway had pneumonia, but as the days progresses his failed to wake up, and his conditioned worsened.

Although Conaway had reportedly battled addictions since the 1980s, his rep told PEOPLE that “the use of painkillers and prescription drugs”–not an overdose–led to Conaway being found unconscious in his home.

A native New Yorker, Conaway landed on the radar after playing the swaggering, but loveable Kenickie in the 1978 film “Grease,” alongside John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. His success continued when, in 1978, he landed the role of struggling-actor-turned cab driver Bobby Wheeler in the TV series “Taxi.”

Conaway left “Taxi” during its fourth season, and went on to appear in other TV shows, such as the sci-fi series “Babylon 5.” But none of the gigs ever emulated the success of his previous roles. He eventually landed on VH1’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” for his addiction problems.

On the personal front, he was married to Rona Newton-John, Olivia Newton-John‘s sister, from 1980 to 1985. His second marriage to Kerri Young also ended in divorce. Most recently, he had an on-off relationship with girlfriend Victoria Spinoza, who discovered him unconscious at his home, and called 911.

– David Caplan