Former Grease and Taxi star Jeff Conaway passed away from complications from pneumonia today. He had been in the hospital for the better part of two weeks, where he had arrived unconscious, according to his sister, thanks to “just too many prescribed drugs.”
Conaway dealt with a very public substance abuse problem in his later years, which he publicized widely on two seasons of Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.
From the LA Times obit:
In a Times interview in January, Conaway said he had developed an addiction to cocaine and pain pills after undergoing back surgery, and as he tried to quit those drugs on the program, he threw tantrums, shouted and blacked out.
But, he told the Times, he had ramped up his behavior for the camera.
“We all knew we were on TV,” he said. “I think everybody, like myself, made choices. Sometimes we would go a little bit further than maybe we normally would. You can’t help it. There are cameras sitting in front of your face.”
Dr. Drew, who treated Conaway on the show, told TMZ the actor definitely did not overdose. Instead, “This was aspiration with overwhelming pneumonia and sepsis,” due to prolonged misuse of prescription drugs. “Jeff is another pharmaceutical death from the overutilization of prescription drugs.”