Jeff Conaway, dead at 60

Posted on May 28, 2011

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Jeff Conaway, who played Zack Allan on the hit sci/fi TV show Babylon 5 died today at the age of 60. The recurring role of a security officer evolved into that of a regular cast member and Security Chief during his four seasons on the show. He also appeared in several Babylon 5 television movies as well.

He also starred in a couple other shows you might have heard of. He played Bobby Wheeler on the TV show Taxi and is probably best known for his role as Kenickie in the movie Grease.

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.

“It’s sad that people remember his struggle with drugs. … He has touched so many people,” she said, calling Conaway a kind and intelligent man who was well read and “always so interesting to talk to. We respected him as an artist and loved him as a friend.”

“He was trying so hard to get clean and sober,” Boole added. “If it hadn’t been for his back pain, I think he would have been able to do it.”

Family members, including Conway’s sisters, nieces and nephews, and his minister, were with him when he died, Boole said.

He was taken to the hospital unconscious on May 11 and placed in a medically induced coma while being treated for pneumonia and sepsis, which is blood poisoning caused by a bacterial infection.

Conaway had failed to seek medical aid, instead trying to treat himself with pain pills and cold medicine, said Phil Brock, Boole’s business partner.

“He’s a gentle soul with a good heart … but he’s never been able to exorcise his demons,” Brock said after Conaway was hospitalized.

Conaway is the second person who appeared in the VH1 reality series “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew” who later died. In March, former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr, who was on the show in 2009, was found dead in Salt Lake City. The month before, police there had arrested him on suspicion of possession of medications without a required prescription.

Jeff will be sadly missed.

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