Though Jeff Conaway achieved TV fame by playing an actor who couldn't find work, he had in fact been a busy professional since childhood. At age ten, Conaway made his first Broadway appearance in All the Way Home. Eleven years later, after completing his education at N.Y.U., Conaway was seen in his first film, Jennifer on My Mind (1971). He played Kenicke in the New York staging of Grease, then repeated the role for the 1978 film adaptation. Also in 1978, he began a three-year run on the TV sitcom Taxi, in the role of Bobby Wheeler, an incredibly luckless aspiring actor who made ends meet by driving a hack. Conaway then delved into the realm of "fantastic television," appearing as Prince Erick Greystone in Wizards and Warriors (1983) and (occasionally) as Zack Allen on Babylon 5 (1992). Active in the direct-to-video market, Jeff Conaway both directed and acted in Bikini Summer 2 (1992). His problems with substance escalated in later years, and after appearing on several intervention-style reality shows, Conaway succumbed to various health problems and died on May 27, 2011.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Wanted to be an astronaut as a child.
- Made his Broadway debut at age 10 in the play All the Way Home, which starred Lillian Gish and Colleen Dewhurst.
- As a teen, was in a rock band that once opened for Chuck Berry.
- Was a student of both Olympia Dukakis and Martha Graham while attending New York University.
- Played multiple roles in the musical Grease, including Danny Zuko (on Broadway in the early 1970s) and Kenickie (in the 1978 film version).
- Left Taxi after three seasons, but returned as a guest star during the show's fourth season.
- Appeared on season 3 of Celebrity Fit Club, but left the show after three episodes to enter rehab. He later appeared on the first two seasons of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.