Remembered: Taxi's Jeff Conaway, Dead at 60

Onetime Taxi driver Jeff Conaway passed away on Friday at a Los Angeles hospital. The actor was taken off life support after doctors were unable to revive him two weeks after he was placed in a medically induced coma.

Conaway had arrived at the hospital unconscious and with pneumonia, the result of “just too many prescribed drugs,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Conaway’s myriad here-and-there TV credits include The Bold and the Beautiful (as fashion fotog Mick Savage) and Babylon 5 (where he played Security Chief Zack Allan). But it’s the role of forever aspiring — and somewhat daft — actor Bobby Wheeler that most TV viewers will remember him from. An original cast member, Conaway would appear in 55 episodes, or about half of the late-1970s/early ’80s comedy’s run.

Of his occasional big-screen forays, he was best known as Danny Zuko’s BFF Kenickie in 1978’s Grease. (His DA’d Casanova memorably boasted, “A hickey from Kenickie is like a Hallmark card.”)

I was a big fan of TV’s Taxi growing up, up to and through Conaway’s exit and the show’s gradual morphing into the Latka Gravas Half-Hour. As HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall smartly pointed out, while Conaway seldom benefited form the best showcases, episodes such as “High School Reunion” — in which Bobby tackled the role of lewd-n-crude boss man Louie DePalma (Danny DeVito) — allowed him the occasional chance to shine. Watch the seminal scene from that episode here:

Another goodie was “Bobby and the Critic,” in which the hapless thespian, roused by a vicious review of his latest (short-lived) play, banged out a nasty letter to the local critic. Bobby bailed on mailing the missive, but Louie was glad to secretly send it out. The result was much fan mail for brave Bobby… and a VIP RSVP for his next stage gig that made his heart drop.

That an OD-induced coma played a role in Conaway’s eventual fate is no great surprise to those who watched the actor on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew recount and recant for his drug-hazed days as a young actor — a habit that played some role in his truncated Taxi run. Still, it’s always terribly sad to say goodbye to any piece of a beloved TV series, one that gave birth to stars such as DeVito, Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza and Andy Kaufman.

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  1. John says:

    I always enjoyed his work, especially in B5. RIP.

  2. Michael says:

    Loved his ‘Taxi’ episode with Susan Sullivan where she wanted to manage him on stage and off.

    He had one of the best soap names ever when he was on ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ — “Mick Savage.”

  3. april-ann says:

    Thank you for this lovely, intelligent and touching article, Matt. I always enjoyed Jeff Conaway’s work, too. I agree with everything you said about “Taxi” (thanks also for those clips!) Rest in peace, Mr. Jeff Conaway.

  4. PT Ryan says:

    For me he’ll always be Zack Allan first and foremost. He was a great sidekick to Garibaldi and really stood up when he succeeded him as security chief. The elevator scene with Lyta in Thirdspace was his best moment on the show, and beautifully played. It’s really sad to learn of his passing, but hopefully he’s now at peace. RIP.

  5. Rob J. says:

    Other sources have reported that early information that his coma was brought about by a drug overdose were incorrect. The actual cause of his death was pneumonia that turned into sepsis.

    — Rob

  6. Michelle R says:

    I’m sorry he couldn’t overcome his personal demons and have the life, and the ending, that he deserved.

  7. Ronnie says:

    I’m sad to see him go so soon. Though you rightly mention Taxi as a seminal role, I think many will remember Grease and Babylon 5 as well. It’s a testament to his natural air before the camera that he had three very memorable roles. His Kenickie will be watched by generations and never forgotten.
    For me personally, he will always be Zach from Babylon 5. He was pure delight every time he walked in front of the camera.
    I’m glad he is finally at peace. He brought me joy and smiles for many years and won’t be forgotten.

  8. scarlett says:

    Goodbye, Jeff. A lovely man aside from him medicinal demons. He tried hard to fight it. Rest in peace, Jeff. Your fans remember you with love. xoxo

  9. Thom says:

    RIP Jeff. Thanks for the laughs and adventures. To his friends and family: Sorry for your loss.

  10. zhenglishu says:


    Google in the input: = ==you can find many brand names, even more surprising is that he will sell you the unexpected o(∩_∩)o

  11. Sara says:

    Still, it’s always terribly sad to say goodbye to any piece of a beloved TV series, one that gave birth to stars such as DeVito, Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza and Andy Kaufman.

    Don’t forget Marilu Henner and Christopher Lloyd!

  12. Truth says:



  13. ren says:

    Many have issues that can take their lives. Food addiction, alcohol, meds, smoking. Its a shame when those things actually steal your life from you. Jeff had a terrible childhood and did suffer from chronic pain, and the meds were his correction for those wrongs. I am truely saddened, truely, that he left this earth too soon. However, he suffers no more.

  14. NY Limo says:

    Sad to see him go.