Jeff Conaway, 60, who starred in the sitcom
, played the swaggering character of Kenickie in the movie musical
, and publicly battled his drug and alcohol addiction on
, died Friday.
The actor was taken off life support Thursday and died Friday morning at Encino Tarzana Medical Center in Encino, Calif., according to one of his managers, Kathryn Boole. He was taken there unconscious May 11 and placed in a medically induced coma.
He had been treating himself with pain pills and cold medicine while in weakened health, said Phil Brock, Boole's business partner.
Family members, including his sisters, nieces, and nephews, and his minister were with him when he died, Boole said.
Boole called Mr. 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 born in New York City on Oct. 5, 1950, to parents who were in show business. His father was an actor, producer, and agent, and his mother was an actress.
He made his Broadway debut in 1960 at the age of 10 in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama All the Way Home. By then his parents were divorced, and he had spent a great deal of time with his grandparents.
"I used to hold in a lot of feelings," he said in 1985. "I'd smile a lot, but I was really miserable. I didn't know it at the time, but I've figured it out since. When I was on stage, I could make people laugh."
In 1978, he won the Taxi job, which put him in the company of Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito, and Andy Kaufman in the ABC hit. - AP