Jeff Conaway‘s struggles with addiction and poor health tended to overshadow his acting talent toward the end of his life, but he wasn’t without his admirers who remember him for his huge talent and bigger heart. Over the weekend, several of his celebrity friends and former co-stars spoke out to honor Conaway, who passed away on Friday, May 27 a day after doctors removed him from life support after he fell into a coma.
Conaway’s sister, Carla Shreve, told TMZ that his Grease co-star John Travolta sent flowers and food to the family and Travolta released a statement that called Conaway “a wonderful and decent man.” Olivia Newton-John, who was not only Conaway’s co-star but his sister-in-law for five years also paid her respects, saying “Jeff had a good heart and was so very talented. He was a big part of our family for many years and he will be missed.”
Marilu Henner, who kept a bedside vigil for Conaway in his last days, starred with the actor on Taxi. “He reminded me of one of my brothers and I reminded him of one his sisters, so we had a real family bond,” she said. Fellow Taxi actor Danny DeVito called Conaway “a good man,” and said “I will always think of him fondly and of our days together with the Taxi family. Finally he’s at peace.”
In a longer interview, Celebrity Rehab star Dr. Drew Pinsky revealed an inside look at Conaway’s struggles with his childhood and his addictions. After the jump, read what the good doctor had to say about Conaway’s traumatic life and the way that the man “lit up the lives” of those around him.
In the opinion of Dr. Drew, Jeff Conaway “was a terribly complex case with chronic pain, opiate addiction and severe childhood trauma,” he says in People magazine. “One of the deeply moving aspects of Jeff’s case was the profound trauma he suffered during childhood. He described these events on [Celebrity Rehab], but viewers somehow did not really understand the profound, painful grinding quality of what he lived through.
“I have so many memories of Jeff,” Dr. Drew continued. “I keep flashing on riding around with him in a golf cart when we had taken the patients golfing for recreation. He had no significant pain and was regaling me with stories about his career on Broadway. He was a dear man…His two sisters are filled with wonderful memories of how this man lit up their lives.” So, too, are the fans of Conaway, whose legacy will live on, for us at least, especially when we get “Summer Lovin'” stuck in our head.
[Photos: Getty Images]