Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jeff Conaway R.I.P.

Jeff Conaway, who starred in the TV shows Taxi and Babylon 5, passed yesterday at the age of 60. The cause was complications from pneumonia.

Jeff Conaway was born 5 October 1950 in New York City. He started acting while very young, making his Broadway début at age 10 in the play All the Way Home. Mr. Conaway attended the North Carolina School of Arts before he transferred to New York University. He appeared in the movie Jennifer on My Mind (1971). It was in 1972 that he left school to play Danny Zuko in the Broadway production of Grease.  He remained with the play until 1976. He also guest starred on such shows as Joe Forrester, Happy Days, Mary Tyler Moore, and Kojak. He appeared in such films as The Eagle Has Landed (1976), Delta County, U.S.A. (1977),  I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), Pete's Dragon (1977), and Grease (1978). In 1978 he was cast as Danny Wheeler, the handsome struggling actor driving a cab until he gets his big break, on the TV show Taxi. He remained with the show for four years.

In 1983 Jeff Conaway starred in the short lived series Wizards and Warriors and Berrengers. He guest starred on the shows Who's the Boss, Mike Hammer, Tales from the Darkside, and Stingray. He appeared in the films Covergirl (1984),  The Patriot (1986), The Banker (1989), Tale of Two Sisters (1989), Ghost Writer (1989), and The Sleeping Car (1990).  In 1985 he appeared in the play The News on Broadway. In the Nineties Mr. Conaway played Zack Allan on Babylon 5 from 1994 to 1998. He guest starred on such shows as Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Burke's Law, and Hope & Gloria. He appeared in such movies as Total Exposure (1991), Eye of the Storm (1992), LA Goddess (1993), The Last Embrace (1997), Shadow of Doubt (1998), and Jawbreaker. In the Naughts he appeared in such movies as Dating Service (2001), The Biz (2002), Living the Dream (2006), and Ladron (2010).

Jeff Conaway was probably more talented than anyone had given him credit for. In Grease he played a tough guy with a sensitive side. On Taxi he played a vain but down on his luck actor. On Babylon 5 he played Zack Allan, the honest and reliable security chief who had his share of problems. Mr. Conaway played each part well (even in Grease, whose script gave him little to work with). And he did well in guest appearances on various shows over the years. Sadly, his addictions to alcohol and prescription drugs would hamper his career. While he would work steadily into the Naughts, his career was a shadow of what it once was.

1 comment:

Jim Marquis said...

Wow, I'm amazed he still had enough composure to work in a film released in 2010.