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Image: Jeff Conaway
Frazer Harrison  /  Getty Images
Actor Jeff Conaway has died at age 60, TMZ is reporting.
TODAY staff and wire
updated 5/31/2011 1:18:41 PM ET 2011-05-31T17:18:41

Jeff Conaway, who starred in "Taxi" and played Danny Zuko's buddy Kenickie in 1978's "Grease," has died after more than two weeks in a coma.

Spokeswoman Kathryn Boole says the 60-year-old actor died Friday morning at the Encino Tarzana Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized in a coma since May 11. His manager, Phil Brock, has said Conaway had tried to treat himself with pain pills and cold medicine while in weakened health.

The actor was found unconscious in his apartment on May 11. Doctors had said there was no hope for his recovery and his family decided to take him off life support on Thursday, according to E! News.

Conaway's ex-girlfriend, Vikki Lizzi, had gone to court to try and prevent the action. E! reports that Lizzi and Conaway had filed dueling restraining orders against each other in March after their breakup. At the time, Conaway had claimed she was injecting him with prescription drugs against his will.

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Story: Girlfriend, family battle over Jeff Conaway's final days

Conaway had publicly battled addiction issues, and was treated by Dr. Drew Pinsky on VH1's "Celebrity Rehab."

After Lizzi discovered Conaway unconscious on May 11, manager Phil Brock first said that an overdose of painkillers was a likely culprit. That theory was disputed days later by Pinsky, who said that there was no sign of an intentional overdose and instead the actor was suffering from pneumonia and the blood poisoning known as sepsis.

The actor had struggled with health and substance abuse problems for years, and in 2008, told radio host Howard Stern "I've tried to commit suicide 21 times."

"Not an OD like press is alleging & certainly not dead," Pinsky tweeted late last week after visiting Conaway.

Video: Actor Jeff Conaway dies at 60 (on this page)

E! Online quoted some of Conaway's Hollywood friends reacting to the news.

"Grease" costar John Travolta recalled his former T-Bird wingman.  "Jeff Conaway was a wonderful and decent man, and we will miss him," Travolta told E! News.  "My heartfelt thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this very difficult time."

"Yet again another beautiful soul is wasted due to the growing problem of pharmaceutical addiction," Corey Feldman told E! News. "I have lost way too many friends because of irresponsible practices where doctors are overmedicating obvious addicts. It's horrific and disgusting! My heart goes out to Jeff's family, he was a wonderful human."

E! also reported that former "Munsters" star Butch Patrick, a onetime party pal of Conaway, said he was "devastated" by the loss.

Conaway was married to Rona Newton-John, sister of singer Olivia, in the early '80s. He is survived by their son, Emerson, a professional racecar driver.

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Video: Actor Jeff Conaway dies at 60

  1. Closed captioning of: Actor Jeff Conaway dies at 60

    >>> jeff conaway has died. best known for his role in "grease." sadly, he was last known on "celebrity rehab." it cost him his life at the age of 60 wroorb.

Photos: Jeff Conaway

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  1. Fresh-faced youth

    Jeff Conaway, who died on May 27, 2011 is best known for two roles -- that of Bobby Wheeler on the hit sitcom "Taxi," and of Kenickie in "Grease." On "Taxi," Wheeler was a handsome struggling actor who drove a cab while trying to make it in his chosen field. (ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Hanging with the cabbies

    In addition to Conaway, at rear in leather jacket, "Taxi" brought fame to Danny DeVito, Marilu Henner, Andy Kaufman, Randall Carver , Tony Danza and Judd Hirsch. Conaway left the show after its third season, but made guest appearances in the fourth season. "Taxi" ran from 1978-1981. (ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. We go together

    "Grease" moved from the stage to the screen in 1978 and was a huge hit. Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta led the cast as star-crossed lovers Sandy and Danny, but Conaway and Stockard Channing more than held their own as Danny's bad-boy pal Kenickie and tough girl Rizzo. Conaway for a time was married to Olivia Newton-John's sister, Rona. (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Space man

    In the 1990s, Conaway played Sgt. Zack Allan on "Babylon 5," and also appeared in the series' related TV movie, "A Call to Arms." (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Happy couple

    Conaway and wife Keri, seen here in 1997, wed after his marriage to Rona Newton-John ended. (Albert Ortega / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Musical interlude

    Conaway struggled with substance-abuse issues but sought treatment and was candid about his problems. In 1999, he would regularly host what he called a "booze and bible" study group at his home, where he is pictured in his recording studio. (David Claborn / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Remembering those summer nights

    In 2002, Conaway joined fellow "Grease" stars Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta to celebrate Paramount Studios' 90th anniversary. "Grease" was one of six musicals re-released to mark the occasion. (Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Hitting the right notes

    The role of Kenickie would never leave him. Conaway performs at a 2004 "Grease"-themed fundraiser for Alzheimer's disease in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Old 'Taxi' mates

    In 2006, Conaway reunited with former fellow "Taxi" stars Christopher Lloyd, Danny DeVito and Marilu Henner to mark the premiere of the second season of DeVito's FX show, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." (Mark Mainz / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Go, Greased Lightning

    "Grease" stars Lorenzo Lamas and Susan Buckner, director Randal Kleiser and stars Didi Conn, Conaway, Eddie Deezen and Annette Cardona attend the 2006 celebration of the DVD release of the "Grease Rockin' Rydell Edition." The DVD was sold wrapped in a black leather jacket. (David Livingston / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Honored for 'Taxi'

    Former "Taxi" cast members Randall Carver, Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito and Conaway accept the Medallion Award onstage during the 2007 TV Land Awards. The honor is presented to a TV series that has "stood the test of time and ranks among the most memorable and celebrated shows in TV history." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Stepping out for charity

    Conaway and girlfriend Vikki Lizzi attend The HSFF Celebration and HUFH charity event in 2009 in Hollywood, Calif. Their tumuluous relationship was viewed by many on "Celebrity Rehab," where Dr. Drew Pinsky scolded Lizzi for interfering with Conaway's rehab. The couple also made a CD together. (Koi Sojer / FilmMagic) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Mountains to climb

    Substance-abuse problems followed Conaway for decades. He sought help, both publicly and privately, but was been unable to remain clean, perhaps due in part to constant back pain for which he has undergone numerous operations. (Tiffany Rose / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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