Jeff Conaway Dies After Being Taken Off Life Support

60-year-old star of Grease and Taxi had publicly battled substance abuse for years

By Natalie Finn May 27, 2011 6:46 PMTags

Jeff Conaway slipped away and never woke up.

The 60-year-old star of Grease and Taxi, who publicly struggled with drugs and alcohol over the last decade, died Friday at a Los Angeles-area hospital. He had been in a coma for more than two weeks after being found unconscious in his home.

Family members, including Conaway's sister Carla Shreve, decided Thursday to have doctors remove the feeding tube and ventilator that had been essentially keeping the actor alive—over the objections of his longtime girlfriend, Vikki Lizzi, who went to court to try to block the move. But in the end, he was removed from life support early Friday.

In 2008, he took his demons to Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, where he became known for his trainwreck tendencies.

"I've tried to commit suicide 21 times," he told Howard Stern in an interview that year. "I'm terrible at it! I get depressed over how come I can't kill myself," he laughed, when Howard and Robin Quivers joked that he was obviously terrible at it.

"Mostly it's been with pills," he admitted when asked how he had attempted suicide in the past. "I've taken enough pills to knock an elephant out...God wants me on this planet for some reason or another."

In January 2010, Lizzi (whose real name is Victoria Spinoza),  told E! News that Conaway had been increasingly despondent in the days before a drug-induced fall at his home left him with a broken hip that required surgery and a stay in a convelescent home.

"He knows the meds are killing him. He can't get off them," Lizzi said.

E! News last spoke to Conaway while he was recuperating in March 2010, and he sounded more optimistic.

"I have made a tremendous amount of progress," he said. "I wasn't about to give up. I didn't come this far to give up. God didn't bring me this far to drop me."

Though Lizzi and Conaway were in contact in the days before his collapse, their relationship had been rocky for some time. They filed dueling restraining orders against each other in March, with Spinoza claiming that her ex was "mentally unstable and dangerous" and Conaway claiming that she was stealing his medication and sneaking into their house to drug him at night.

Lizzi was the one who discovered Conaway unconscious and called 911, having driven to his house to take him to a doctor's appointment.

Earlier this week, a judge granted a temporary restraining order, filed by Conaway's sister, that barred Lizzi from visiting Conaway in the hospital. Lizzi was unsuccessful in her bid to overturn the order and didn't have a chance to see Conaway before he passed.

"Vikki is distraught right now. She can't even breathe. She wasn't able to see," mutual friend Aubry Fisher told E! News.

Conaway was married to Rona Newton-John, Olivia's sister, in the early '80s. He is survived by wife Kerri Young Conaway, sisters Shreve and Michele Goffin, and stepson Emerson.

May he finally rest in peace.