Jeff Conaway passed away earlier this year at the age of 60, yet it looks like that might have slipped the minds of whoever compiled the “In Memoriam” montage for Sunday’s Emmy Awards. Dudes, that was Kenickie.
Over his 40-year career, Conaway appeared in the likes of Taxi and Babylon 5, but it is probably his role in Grease as sidekick Kenickie that he is most fondly remembered for.
Conaway began to use drugs in the mid-1980s, a shadow that loomed over his career, and doctors admitted this had contributed to his passing in May this year. His death followed two weeks spent in a coma.
Following Taxi, the bigger roles dried up for Conaway, and it’s sad that so many people will remember him more for his appearance on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. After his struggle with addiction, he appeared in the show’s 2008 season to battle his dependency on alcohol, cocaine, and painkillers.
He would prove to be one of the show’s most disturbing, difficult participants, arriving drunk at the Pasadena Recovery Center in a wheelchair, and regularly airing his suicidal thoughts.
But by all accounts, Conaway was a genuinely warm individual, always stopping to say hello when approached – I’ve read accounts of how he’d even comb his hair, Kenickie-style, for photos with fans. And we all know Kenickie was the cooler cat in Grease, right?
Here’s the full ‘In Memoriam’ reel from this year’s awards, and also some footage of Conaway doing his thing alongside John Travolta: