Sunday, June 5, 2011

Jeff Conaway who played Bobby Wheeler on the TV show Taxi and Kenickie in the film Grease

Jeffrey Charles William Michael Conaway was born October 5, 1950 in New York City.  He is famous for playing the role of Bobby Wheeler on the TV show Taxi.  He is also well know for playing the role of Kenickie in the film Grease and Zack Allen in the sci-fi series Babylon 5.

Jeff Conaway as Kenickie in the musical film Grease 1978

Jeff got his acting start on the Broadway stage in 1960 at the age of 2 appearing in the production All the Way Home.

During the mid 1960s, Jeff performed in the rock band "The 3 1/2" singing lead vocals and playing the guitar.  This stint was short lived as they recorded only a handful of songs.

Conaway made his film debut in the 1971 film Jennifer on My Mind co-starring with Michael Brandon, Tippy Walker, Renée Taylor, Steve Vinovich, Barry Bostwick, and Robert De Niro.  He would go on to appear as Rocko in 2 episodes of the TV comedy Happy Days
starring Ron Howard (Richie Cunningham), Don Most (Ralph Malph), Anson Williams (Potsie Weber), Henry Winkler (Arthur Fonzarelli aka 'Fonzie'), Erin Moran (Joanie Cunningham),  Marion Ross (Marion Cunningham), Tom Bosley (Howard Cunningham), Al Molinaro (Al Delvecchio), and Scott Baio (Chachi Arcola). (1975-76); The Mary Tyler Moore Show starring Mary Tyler Moore, Edward Asner, Gavin MacLeod, Valerie Harper, Ted Knight, Betty White, Georgia Engel, and Cloris Leachman (1976); The Eagle Has Landed co-starring Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Larry Hagman, Robert Duvall, Jenny Agutter, Treat Williams, Judy Geeson, Jean Marsh, Donald Pleasence, and Anthony Quayle (1976); Barnaby Jones starring Buddy Ebsen, Lee Meriwether and John Carter (2 episodes, 1976-77); and Delta County, U.S.A. co-starring Jim Antonio, Morgan Brittany, Robert Hays, Joe Penny, and Edward Power (1977).

Jeff Conaway in the film The Eagle Has Landed 1976

Jeff starred in I Never Promised You a Rose Garden with Bibi Andersson, Kathleen Quinlan, Lorraine Gary, Dennis Quaid, Ben Piazza, Martine Bartlett, Reni Santoni, and Susan Tyrrell (1977); Pete's Dragon Sean Marshall, Helen Reddy, Shelley Winters, Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons, Jim Backus, Jane Kean, Gary Morgan, Cal Bartlett, Jim Dale, and Charlie Callas (1977); and Kojak starring Telly Savalas, Dan Frazer, George Savalas, Kevin Dobson, and Mark Russell (1978).

Jeff Conaway in Pete's Dragon 1977

In 1978, Conaway landed the role of Kenickie, Rizzo's boyfriend, in the musical film Grease co-starring John Travolta,  John Travolta (Danny Zuko),
Olivia Newton-John (Sandy Olsen),  Stockard Channing (Betty Rizzo), Didi Conn (Frenchy), Kelly Ward (Putzie), Barry Pearl (Doody), Michael Tucci (Sonny), Jamie Donnelly (Jan), Eve Arden (Principal McGee), Dinah Manoff (Marty Maraschino), Joan Blondell (Vi), Edd Byrnes (Vince Fontaine), Frankie Avalon (The Teen Angel), Eddie Deezen (Eugene Felnic), Lorenzo Lamas (Tom Chisum), Fannie Flagg (Nurse Wilkins), and Sid Caesar (Coach Calhoun).

Jeff Conaway (Kenickie), Olivia-Newton-John (Sandy), John-Travolta (Danny) and Stockard Channing (Rizzo) in the film Grease 1978
Jeff Conaway as Kenickie, Rizzo's boyfriend in the 1978 film Grease
John-Travolta (Danny), Olivia-Newton-John (Sandy), and Jeff Conaway (Kenickie) of Grease 1978
Foreground: Jeff Conaway (Kenickie) Background: John-Travolta (Danny) stars of the film Grease 1978

After Grease, Jeff landed the role of Bobby Wheeler in the TV show Taxi co-starring Judd Hirsch (Alex Reiger), Danny DeVito (Louie De Palma), Tony Danza (Tony Banta), Marilu Henner (Elaine O'Connor), Christopher Lloyd (Reverend Jim Ignatowski), Andy Kaufman (Latka Gravas), Randall Carver (John Burns), and J. Alan Thomas (Jeff Bennett).  Conaway would play the role of Bobby Wheeler until he left the show in 1982.

Jeff Conaway as Bobby Wheeler in the TV comedy Taxi
The cast of the TV show Taxi  Front: Danny DeVito (Louie De Palma), Judd Hirsch (Alex Reiger)  Back: Marilu Henner (Elaine O'Connor), Andy Kaufman (Latka Gravas), Jeff Conaway (Bobby Wheeler), Randall Carver (John Burns), and Tony Danza (Tony Banta)

During his time on Taxi, Conaway also appeared in several TV movies including Breaking Up Is Hard to Do co-starring Jim Antonio, Ted Bessell, Billy Crystal, Robert Conrad, Lane Bradbury, Molly Cheek, and Bonnie Franklin (1979); For the Love of It co-starring Deborah Raffin, Barbi Benton, Tom Bosley, Adam West, Don Rickles, William Christopher, Norman Fell, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Pat Morita, and Henry Gibson (1980); and The Nashville Grab co-starring Slim Pickens, Cristina Raines, Henry Gibson, and Dianne Kay (1981).

Jeff Conaway (Bobby Wheeler) and Danny DeVito (Louie De Palma) of the TV comedy Taxi
The cast of the TV show Taxi  Front: Danny DeVito (Louie De Palma), Andy Kaufman (Latka Gravas), and Marilu Henner (Elaine O'Connor),    Back: Randall Carver (John Burns), Jeff Conaway (Bobby Wheeler),  Judd Hirsch (Alex Reiger), and Tony Danza (Tony Banta)

After his days on Taxi, Jeff Conaway starred as Prince Erik Greystone in 2 out of the 8 episodes of the short lived TV show Wizards and Warriors in 1983.  He co-starred with Ian Wolfe, Walter Olkewicz, Julia Duffy, and Duncan Regehr.  He went on to star in Making of a Male Model with Joan Collins, Jon-Erik Hexum, Arte Johnson, Roxie Roker, Ted McGinley, and Kevin McCarthy (1983); The New Mike Hammer starring Stacy Keach, Lindsay Bloom, Don Stroud, Delta Burke, Lee Benton, Claudia Christian, and Dawn Abraham (1984); Murder, She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury, Bart Braverman, Genie Francis, Carol Lawrence, Gabe Kaplan, and Martin Landau (1984); and Covergirl co-starring Irena Ferris, Cathie Shirriff, Kenneth Welsh, Charles Dennis, Roberta Leighton, and Deborah Wakeham (1984).

In 1985, Conaway landed the role of John Higgins in the TV show Berrenger's co-starring Robin Strand, Ben Murphy, Claudia Christian, Sam Wanamaker, Yvette Mimieux, Laura Ashton, Art Hindle, Leslie Hope, Jack Scalia, Andrea Marcovicci, and Donna Dixon;

Jeff Conaway then

After Berrenger's, Jeff appeared in Who's the Boss? starring Tony Danza, Judith Light, Alyssa Milano, Danny Pintauro, and Katherine Helmond (1985);
The Love Boat starring Gavin MacLeod (Captain Merrill Stubing), Fred Grandy ("Gopher" Smith), Bernie Kopell (Ship's Doctor Adam Bricker), Lauren Tewes (Cruise Director Julie McCoy), Ted Lange (Isaac Washington), and Jill Whelan (Vicki Stubing) (1985);  The Patriot co-starring Gregg Henry, Simone Griffeth, Leslie Nielsen, Stack Pierce, and Michael J. Pollard (1986); Murder, She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury, Susan Anton, Genie Francis, Richard Kline, David Ogden Stiers, Bill Macy, and Warren Berlinger (1986); The New Mike Hammer starring Stacy Keach, Lindsay Bloom, Don Stroud, Kurek Ashley, Lee Benton, and Edward Edwards (1987); Tales from the Darkside co-starring Roy Dotrice and Jillie Mack (1987); Hotel starring James Brolin, Connie Sellecca, Shari Belafonte, and Nathan Cook (1987); Stingray starring Nick Mancuso, James Handy and Barbara Williams (1987); Bay Coven co-starring Pamela Sue Martin, Tim Matheson, Woody Harrelson, James Sikking, Susan Ruttan, Barbara Billingsley, and Nigel Bennett (1987); The Dirty Dozen: The Fatal Mission co-starring Telly Savalas, Ernest Borgnine, Erik Estrada, Matthew Burton, Hunt Block, Alex Cord, Ray Mancini, Ernie Hudson, James Carroll Jordan, and Heather Thomas (1988); Elvira: Mistress of the Dark starring Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), Phil Rubenstein and Larry Flash Jenkins (1988); Monsters starring John Bolger, Pamela Dean Kelly and Michael J. Anderson (1989); Freddy's Nightmares starring Robert Englund and Gabriel Jarret (1989); The Banker co-starring Robert Forster, Shanna Reed, Duncan Regehr, Leif Garrett, Richard Roundtree, Michael Fairman, Juan García, and Teri Weigel (1989); Tale of Two Sisters co-starring Charlie Sheen, Peter Berg, Dee Coppola,  Claudia Christian, and Dee Coppola (1989); Ghost Writer co-starring Audrey Landers, Judy Landers, John Matuszak, David Doyle, Joey Travolta, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, and Anthony Franciosa (1989).

Jeff Conaway in The Dirty Dozen: The Fatal Mission 1988

Conaway played the role of Mick Savage in the daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful from 1989 to 1990. He also starred in the film The Sleeping Car co-starring David Naughton, Judie Aronson, Dani Minnick, Nicole Hansen, and Kevin McCarthy (1990); Good Grief starring Howie Mandel, Joel Brooks, Wendy Schaal, Tom Poston, and Sheldon Feldner (1990); Shades of LA starring John D'Aquino, Janis Paige, and Mary Crosby (1990); Total Exposure co-starring Michael Nouri, Season Hubley, and Christian Bocher (1991); A Time to Die co-starring Traci Lords, Richard Roundtree, and Robert Miano (1991).

In 1992, Conaway wrote, directed, and starred in Bikini Summer II co-starring Jessica Hahn, Robert Miano, Maureen Flaherty, Tracy Dali, Melinda Armstrong, and sister Michele Conaway.  He would go on to star in Mirror Images co-starring Delia Sheppard, John O'Hurley, Richard Arbolino, Julie Strain, and George 'Buck' Flower (1992); Almost Pregnant co-starring Tanya Roberts, Dom DeLuise, Joan Severance, John Calvin, and Christopher Michael Moore (1992); Eye of the Storm co-starring Ted Hollis, Connie Sellecca, Johnnie Johnson III, John Tesh, Deborah Tucker, and Chris Weatherhead (1992); It's Showtime co-starring Lori Jo Hendrix, Robert Z'Dar, Don Stroud, and Tim Abell (1993); Alien Intruder co-starring Billy Dee Williams, Maxwell Caulfield, Tracy Scoggins, and Michael Delano (1993); In a Moment of Passion co-starring Chase Masterson, Vivian Schilling, Stefanie Sergakis, Julie Araskog, Robert Z'Dar, and Joe Estevez (1993); L.A. Goddess co-starring Kathy Shower, David Heavener, James Hong, Joe Estevez, Debbie Criscione, Wendy MacDonald, and Brad Zutaut (1993); Sunset Strip co-starring Michelle Foreman, Michelle Clunie, Shelley Michelle, Paul Bond, and Tim Abell (1993); Matlock starring Andy Griffith, Brynn Thayer and Daniel Roebuck (1993); 2002: The Rape of Eden co-starring Phil Nordell, Francine Lapensée, Vernon Wells, and Polly Firestone (1994); and Murder, She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury, Ray Abruzzo, Barbara Babcock, Herb Edelman, Robert Pine, George DiCenzo, Patrick Fabian, and Kerri Green (2 episodes, 1993-1994).

It was in 1994 that Jeff Conaway began playing the role of Zack Allen in the TV series Babylon 5.  He co-starred with Mira Furlan (Delenn), Richard Biggs (Dr. Stephen Franklin), Claudia Christian (Susan Ivanova), Bruce Boxleitner (John Sheridan), Stephen Furst (Vir Cotto), Bill Mumy (Lennier), Andreas Katsulas (G'Kar), Tracy Scoggins (Capt. Elizabeth Lochley),
Peter Jurasik (Londo Mollari), Patricia Tallman (Lyta Alexander), and Jerry Doyle (Michael Garibaldi).  Jeff would play the role of Zack Allen until the show ended in 1998.

Jerry Doyle (Michael Garibaldi), Tracy Scoggins (Capt. Elizabeth Lochley), and Jeff Conaway (Zack Allen) of the TV sci-fi show Babylon 5

During his run on Bablyon 5, Conaway also appeared in Burke's Law starring Dom DeLuise, David Bickford, Marla Gibbs, Paula Prentiss, Gary Burghoff, Hunter Tylo, and Jake Steinfeld (1995); Hope & Gloria starring Cynthia Stevenson, Jessica Lundy, Alan Thicke, and Enrico Colantoni (1995); Mr. & Mrs. Smith starring Scott Bakula, Maria Bello and Roy Dotrice (1996); The Last Embrace co-starring Ethan Wayne, Kathy Shower, Tane McClure, Kehli O'Byrne, Shauna O'Brien, Michelle Bauer, David Christensen, and Janine Stillo (1997); George & Leo starring Bob Newhart, Judd Hirsch, Robyn Lively, Darryl Theirse and Jason Bateman (1997); Shadow of Doubt co-starring Melanie Griffith, Tom Berenger, Wade Dominguez, Craig Sheffer, Lisa Pelikan, Nina Foch, Victor Love, Kimberley Kates, Huey Lewis, James Morrison, and Tony Plana (1998); Babylon 5: Thirdspace co-starring Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian, Mira Furlan, Stephen Furst, Richard Biggs, Patricia Tallman, William Sanderson, Shari Belafonte, Clyde Kusatsu, Floyd Levine, and Joshua Cox (1998); and Babylon 5: The River of Souls co-starring Jerry Doyle, Tracy Scoggins, Richard Biggs, Martin Sheen, Joel Brooks, Joshua Cox, Ian McShane, Jeff Doucette, and Stuart Pankin (1998).

Jeff Conaway as Zack Allen (center) in Babylon 5

After the Babylon 5 series ended, a year later Conaway resurrected his role as Zack Allen and starred in the TV movie Babylon 5: A Call to Arms with Bruce Boxleitner, Jerry Doyle, Tracy Scoggins, Wayne Alexander, Carrie Dobro, Tony Todd, Peter Woodward, Scott MacDonald,  Michael Harris, and Tony Maggio (1999); and Jawbreaker co-starring Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, Judy Greer, Ethan Erickson, Julie Benz, Charlotte Ayanna, Tatyana Ali, Chad Christ, Carol Kane, William Katt, P.J. Soles, and Pam Grier (1999).

Jeff Conaway in Jawbreaker 1999

Jeff would start off the new millinnium starring a L.A. Theatre Works production of a recreation of the radio show that inspired the hit TV show I Love Lucy, called My Favorite Husband.  He co-starred in the production with Alley Mills, Harold Gould, and Marilu Henner.  Jeff was a member of the L.A. Theatre Works and appeared in other on-stage productions as well.

Conaway continued with is on-screen career as well, appearing in S Club 7 in L.A. starring Jaimarie Bjorge, Hannah Spearritt, Tina Barrett, Linda Blair and Jon Lee (2000); Dating Service co-starring Vincent Pastore, Brent Spiner, and Jack Kandel (2001); Do You Wanna Know a Secret? co-starring Michael Sarysz, Dorie Barton, Sara Premisler, James Mapes, Joseph Lawrence, and Jack McGee (2001); The Biz co-starring Yves Bright, Mark Carlton, Nicholas Turturro, Seymour Cassel, Barbara London, and Kelly Rebecca Walsh (2002); Curse of the Forty-Niner co-starring Karen Black, Martin Kove, John Phillip Law, Richard Lynch, Carrie Bradac, Elina Madison,  Alexandra Ford,  Sean Hines, and Vernon Wells (2002); She Spies starring Natasha Henstridge, Kristen Miller and Natashia Williams (2004); Y.M.I. co-starring Owen Williams, Cy Carter, Jesselynn Desmond, Mageina Tovah, Andrew William Mariano Jr., Anthony Turk, J. Cynthia Brooks, Melody Rogers, and R. Lee Ermey (2004); Pan Dulce co-starring Andrew Aguilar, Alex Castillo, Mario Juarez, Caroline Neville, and Deborah Lemen (2004); and The Corner Office co-starring Allen Levin, Christian Schoyen, Selma Pinkard, Matthew Lussier, and Christin Tellefsen (2004).

Conaway rounded out the 2000s by starring in From Behind the Sunflower with Marie Ellis, Vikki Lizzi, Madeleine Falkskog J.D. Mata, and Mario Valdez (2005); Living the Dream co-starring Sean Young, Christian Schoyen, Marília Pêra, Danny Trejo, Larry Drake, Matt Dallas, and Natalie James (2006); The Utah Murder Project co-starring Oz Perkins, Sarah Lieving, Sandra McArthur, Nicole Travolta, James Evans, and Clint Jung (2006); Wrestling co-starring Mark Welling, Melissa Claire Egan, Susan Moses, and Lauren Schneider (2008); Dante's Inferno: Abandon All Hope co-starring Vittorio Matteucci, Jenn Gotzon, Zan Calabretta, Amy Lucas, Lalo Cibelli, Diane Salinger, Vincent Spano, and Martin Kove (2009); Ladron co-starring Ricco Chapa, Stanley Griego, Marlenne Castaneda, Damian Chapa, and Sultria Demirjian (2010); and Dante's Inferno Animated co-starring Armand Mastroianni, Eric Roberts, Nia Peeples, Vincent Spano, Hélène Cardona, Adrian Paul, and Jenn Gotzon (2010).

Jeff Conaway in 2009
Jeff Conaway in 2010

More recently, Jeff Conoway starred in Dark Games with Booboo Stewart, Danny Trejo, Heather Tocquigny, Brian Thompson, and Martin Kove (2011).

Tragically, Conaway was found unconscious on May 11 of a possible overdose of pain medication he was taking.  It was discovered he had pneumonia and sepsis and was then put in a drug induced comatose state and on May 27, 2011 was taken off of life support and he then passed away.  He can be heard posthumously narrating Dante's Inferno Documented (2011) and Dante's Purgatorio Documented (2012).

Jeff Conaway 1950-2011

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