Marilu Henner remembers friend, co-star Jeff Conaway


Image Credit: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

Actress Marilu Henner managed to cross paths with late actor Jeff Conaway often during their shared time in the acting world. Not only did they star together on the hit sitcom Taxi, but they also appeared together on Broadway in Grease (with Conaway playing Danny Zuko, not the role of Kenickie he later made famous in the film version). Henner told Entertainment Weekly that the news of his passing hit her hard, especially considering he appeared to be getting better.

“They had induced the coma to try to help him heal from this pneumonia,” Henner said. “I thought he was going to pull out of this. When I saw him last week, he was moving his head, he looked so handsome lying there. He seemed good. He looked the best I’d seen him in five years.”

Henner said that many of his former co-stars were at his bedside during his bout with pneumonia, which landed him in the hospital several weeks ago. “Tony [Danza] and I went to see him almost every day,” she said. “The Taxi family is really close. But Jeff and I knew each other well. He reminded me of one of my brothers and I reminded him of one his sisters, so we had a real family bond.”

She recalled one particular moment from a few years back that summed up Conaway’s sense of humor. “When we were doing [Andy Kaufman biopic] Man on the Moon, i was so excited because they duplicated the Taxi set. I brought my boys with me, and Jeff watched them in the hair and make-up room while I did something else, and when I walked back into the hair and make-up room, he had turned them completely into greasers,” she laughed.

Though in recent years Conaway became better known as a member of the cast of Celebrity Rehab (“He was playing a character there,” she said. “He had his problems, but he would always wind up a bit for the cameras”), Henner hopes that people recognize him for his body of work and, most importantly, for his big heart. “He was just a big, loving person,” she said. “I was always happy to hear from him, and I hope younger kids don’t think of him as just a guy from Celebrity Rehab because he was so much more.” — Reporting from Kyle Anderson

Comments (121 total) Add your comment
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  • joe luck

    She remembers everything.

    • nfp


      • mike

        thats exactly what i thought. i feel like the headline is a joke

      • The most qualified person

        to do the eulogy.

      • Here We Go Again

        The posts below have devolved into a back and forth between the ‘hate junkies/hate Obama’ faction and the ‘love junkies/hate Bush’ bean-brains. Save yourself five minutes and move on. RIP, Bobby.

      • Jessica

        @Here We Go Again, it never fails to amaze me how things get so absurdly political on these boards. Tiresome.

    • etm

      I was thinking that too, joe! So sad about Jeff. I was always hoping he could pull it together. RIP. I hope he’s at peace now.

    • cait40

      Wait I dont understand your comment

      • Stephanie

        It gets very specific. Such people can tell you what day something happened.

      • J.Taylor

        She has a photographic memory, she can remember the date she bought shoes years before and all kinds of crazy stuff.

      • Bette

        Marilu Henner has a very rare ability to remember each day of your life as if it happened yesterday. It’s called “superior autobiographical memory” and scientists have only identified a handful of people in the world who have it. One of them is actress Marilu Henner of “Taxi,” oddly enough.

    • Trolls Beware

      Unlike you, she’s not on crack and can actually remember people she’s worked with.

  • lolpeace

    This guy was wonderful on Taxi and always came across as a pretty good guy. I am saddened for his loss and send my condolences to those that loved him, especially his mom and dad, who are enduring unimaginable pain.

    • FRAN


  • QueenCityMichael

    “You shoulda taken the hundred bucks, Nardo.”

  • Christine

    What a great tribute from a life long friend. I’ll always remember him from Taxi and Grease. RIP.

  • Badaughter

    Though in recent years Conaway became better known as a member of the cast of Celebrity Rehab (“He He (He was playing a character there,” she said. “He had his problems, but he would always wind up a bit for the cameras”) – Playing a character? How freakin’ stupid! That went on so long it’s going to be the way I remember him. All jacked up, dying inside and pleading for help to save his life. And now you tell me it was all an act? Never watching that show again!

    • TorontoTom

      Do you honestly think anything on reality TV is reality?!? It is ALL SCRIPTED. The “celebs” are coached, directed, manipulated into playing the ‘character’ that the producers need for the show to work. Nothing more than modern day wrestling…

      • Mike


    • Evan

      To me that’s her trying to give Conway dignity by claiming how he was on Rehab was an act. I don’t think it was an act at all. That was really him, just like his OD’ing was really him. Admit you weren’t able to save him and don’t give him any dignity. He doesn’t deserve after years of drug use and stupidity.

      • J.Taylor

        Agree, although I think she meant his outrageousness on the show besides being an addict.

    • Anne

      I have read numerous articles that interviewed producers, directors, etc of reality shows and they ALL insist that reality TV is almost as fictional as 100% scripted TV. They force the “stars” to re-enact events multiple times, provoke and encourage reactions, in short, do everything to up the drama. Of COURSE this creates at the very least a tendency to “exaggerate” or otherwise enhance the truth!

  • Lula

    I was afraid of this…I have always enjoyed Jeff’s work……what a talent, he will be missed!

  • titaniumtestes

    Another junkie bites it. Big deal.

    • atheria

      Incredible – ya know what? You have no idea what it is to live in constant and uncompromising pain – you just don’t and I pray you never have to or have to watch someone who is.

    • darkcloud4ever

      You are a cruel, heartless person to say something so nasty.

    • Jeff B.

      titaniumtestes your nothing but a wimp hiding behind your monitor, you wish they were titanium.
      Jeff…RIP you will be missed, you were great!

    • JPX

      I completely agree with you, titaniumtestes. He had every advantage a resource available to him and he still chose to kill himself with drugs. What a waste.

      • Toots


    • bootsycolumbia

      If you’ve ever had a family member who’s dealt with drug or alcohol addiction, you’d never say anything so insensitive or stupid. Show some compassion. The man had family and friends who loved him and saw a different, better side than what the public saw. Spare a thought for their feelings.

    • Katrinka

      People who are addicts can work at kicking their demons. However, titaniumtestes, being an idiot is a lifelong curse for you.

  • Tim

    Of course their characters. All reality shows are staffed with characters. Lifes to boring for reality so none of it’s real. It’s all staged for the cameras.

    • titaniumtestes

      No, he really was a junkie.

      • atheria

        Incredible – ya know what? You have no idea what it is to live in constant and uncompromising pain – you just don’t and I pray you never have to or have to watch someone who is. You are one real piece of work dude.

      • testescrusher

        titanimtestes? Yeah, I’ll bet. If so, they’ve likely occupied most of the space between your ears. He may have been a Junkie, but it’s beats a loser without compassion who slings insults at the dead, anonymously from a blog.

  • tvfan

    “Another junkie bites it. Big deal.” I have loved a couple of people who were addicts, unfortunately.The part of the human being who uses can be frustrating, hateful, and sad, but there is always a person underneath that disease of addiction, and of course it is a big deal when any human dies. May he rest in peace.

    • titaniumtestes

      This is what is wrong with Obama’s liberal America. Glorification of criminal activity and weakness. Instead of God and Christ, he turns to drugs, and when he dies from those drugs everyone says it is so sad and he died too young, when in fact he got what he deserved! Those who live by the sword.

      • helena handbasket

        must be nice to be perfect

      • BobP

        Interesting that you talk about God and then judge him and say he got what he deserved. You need to learn a little more about your God and say a lot less about others.

      • Libby

        I seriously hate you obnoxious, self-righteous, morally superior faux-Christians. Go back under the rock you crawled out from.

      • Mellissa

        If titaniumtestes is what an example of someone who turns to God and Christ, I am sure as hell happy to be a Jew.

      • @titaniumteste

        May you never get what you deserve. God is love.

        God is love. God is Mercy. God is compassion. How the death of a drug addicted actor and individual responses to it become an indictment of the Obama Administration escapes me. The war on drugs or lack there of has been a scourge of American life going back through countless administrations. Whenever anyone dies it is sad for those loved ones left behind. Weaknesses or not every life has value. Unfortunately there were not enough intervening influences to turn Jeff’s around in time.

      • bvsfan

        I love it, so even Jeff Conaway dying comes back to some diatribe against the President. You’re a joke, get a brain.

      • Brian

        Sure enough, only a racist wingnut would come out with the phony religious crap to justify being a sociopath. Screw you and your fake god.

      • God’s agent

        Regarding titaniumtestes and his inflammatory statements to the media: God has no connection to this person whatsoever, and has asked the court to issue a cease and desist letter to his residence, a cardboard box under the bridge at 24th and Freakshow Lane. That said, I have to go create more tornadoes with which to kill people, so the survivors will then pray to me for comfort, since I’m screwy that way.

      • Yeah Right

        Heh heh. Your testes, if any, are the size of peas compared to guys like Conaway who actually go out in life and DO something, accomplish something, and have real friends.
        If God is compassion, God is not you, and will be smiting you just as soon as He finishes breakfast.

      • cat

        STFU -you and Palin, Bush, etc. and all the other a**holes think you’re all better than everyone. NOT!!!!!!!!

      • cattyfan

        Don’t drag politics and religion into this. I am a conservative Christian…and I am also educated and adult enough to recognize the tragedy of someone who was in so much pain, he felt the need to turn to drugs. That’s something which crosses politics and religion. ANY family can find themselves facing this type of challenge…to pretend otherwise, and sit in judgement of someone you didn’t even know is repugnant and heartless.

        I am sorry for his friends and family, and I hope he has finally found some peace.

      • JMB in FL

        Don’t feed the trolls, people.

      • kremzeek!

        TITANIUMTESTES,you blame obama for this,do you blame bush for all the addicts that died during his stolen presidency?bush was a cokehead AND a drunk and his daughters were fake ID-carrying bar for your name,anyone who claims they are something usually is the exact opposite.

  • val

    I have been saying prayers for Jeff”s recovery….. So sad to here of his loss…Drugs have taken away to many precious lives…My heart goes out to his family and friends …..

    • titaniumtestes

      I am praying for his dealer! Imagine his loss of revenue!

  • justme

    He was not “just another junkie.” No one is just another junkie. We are all loved by someone. There are parents, siblings, friends, coworkers and (children?) who have lost someone they loved. Rest in Peace Jeff Conaway. I’ll be praying for the loved ones you’ve left behind.

    • titaniumtestes

      Please! He made his choices! He died of being a Junkie! What about men and women who have died in duty from choosing to be a firefighter, or police officer, or soldier in service to their country!! They aren’t remembered, but just because this doofus is famous and was in a show called “Taxi”, his death is so special! Hardly. He is no longer a drain on society.

      • Beau

        You know what Titaniumtestes, u are a douche! I am a soldier, a republican, and I believe in God, and if you can’t have any compassion at all for someone who has passed away, then why don’t you keep your mouth shut! You make people who are affiliated with the beliefs that I am, sick, embarrassed as hell!

      • Brian

        Everybody notice the great forgiving, humble christian attitude of this idiot? Yeah dude, that’s what Christ would do, just dismiss him as a loser junky. Do you even know any of the teachings of Christ? Or does your knowledge all come from Faux noise and AM radio? You’re pathetic.

      • Linda

        Apparently you’ve never experienced real pain for any length of time and apparently you are an expert on opiates and addiction???? Dude, you need to seriously not only get a life, but live one as well. YOu can’t be very old or you’d have some knowledge of how life really is. I feel so sorry for you as you have no emotion in you at all. What a wasted human you are. I pray God will help you get your joy back becaause right now you aren’t any good to anyone. You are one negative human being. You are so sad……..while you are at it, grow up!!!

      • jaded

        I thought your Jesus loves sinners. But your kind of Jesus doesn’t. Your kind of Christian takes the judgemental G-d from the Old Testament and calls him Jesus, without any of the love and compassion. And you’re blaming Obama for this? Are you blaming him for the tornadoes since liberal Obama allowed them to happen? Jeff Conaway had a lot of mental scarring and had rods in his back. I pity anyone who is stupid enough to love a miserable waste of life like you. The day you die should be a national holiday because it’s rid of a miserable, judgmental excuse for a human being like you.

  • M. Gordon

    “Just a junkie?” I especially enjoyed your comments about God and Christ in the same sentence. And your just a jerk. If you’d ever thought to live by the teachings of Christ, instead of spewing out hateful messages, you’d be a whole lot more tolerant and forgiving of your fellow man. And no, I’m not some weak liberal, I’m a rock solid Republican, and a darn sight more full of Christian forgiveness than you are. Keep your jerk water thoughts to yourself, pal, and may whatever God it is you worship forgive your intolerance!

    • titaniumtestes

      Sounds as though your God is liberal hollywood.

      • Libby

        Sounds as if your God is no God at all.

      • Brian

        Your god is just some made up character in your twisted mind to justify being a prick.

      • cattyfan

        Hey! Look, everyone! It’s a little troll, pretending to be religious to get under everyone’s skin.
        If tinytestes has any connection to a true religious belief, and isn’t just some teenage poser, I’m Lady Gaga.

      • Katrinka

        Titaniumtestes sees his god when he looks in the mirror.

      • daisy

        are you one of those nutters who stands outside of soldiers funerals with signs about who God hates?

      • usualsupect

        Inquiring minds wonder how a Christian would choose to hide behind such an obnoxious screen name as “Titaniumtestes”?

        I suspect you are a small, narrow minded man who is probably troubled by his lack of appropriately sized male parts.
        I am not a Christian but it’s people like you that tarnish that brand and make those of us who have a shred of decency try not too judge other self identifying Christians as ignorant and vile.

      • heather

        i’m a Conservative Republican Christian who lost a very dear friend to addiction. i hated his addiction — but it wasn’t who he was. the drugs weren’t who Jeff Conaway was either. they were his cross to bear, and, if you read the article, they didn’t defeat him, pneumonia did. he’s not “just another dead junkie,” none of them are. they are human freaking beings, and if you can’t see that, perhaps you need to reassess your stance as a Christian.

  • sam

    I am sad to hear this. I will always remember him as Kenickie, not the sad figure that he later became. My sympathy to his friends and family who will miss him so much.

  • Rho

    @titaniumtestes. Last time I looked it’s God place to judge not ours. He who is without sin… BTW, what happened to Jeff Conaway has nothing to do w/liberals and conservatives.

    • titaniumtestes

      It is our place to witness.

      • Mellissa

        Hey, guess what? Rapture is coming October 21. Are you ready for Christ?

      • Libby

        What the holy hell are you doing on EW? I’m really curious. It is about…Hollywood? Right? You got that? What a horrible human being you are, Ms. Faux Christian. I think Jesus would hate you. In fact, I’m sure He hates you.

      • Mellissa

        I sincerely hope that was directed at titaniumtestes and not me. Because Jesus loves me. And I’m not even a Christian (and wouldn’t know how to be a faux one if I tried).

      • JPX

        “Hey, guess what? Rapture is coming October 21.” Really? I thought that was supposed to happen the other day. What are you going to do on October 22 when rapture doesn’t come? I feel sorry for you religious nuts. You waste your entire life believing in magic and superstition. I suggest that you go to school, and finish that G.E.D. At least then you won’t come across as the simple person you appear to be. “Rapture” HAHAHAHA.

      • cattyfan

        Witnessing doesn’t involve insults, or alienating others, or spewing hateful statement with no Biblical basis. Stop pretneding and go play outside, little boy.

      • Mellissa

        I’m sorry, I guess a sarcastic reply to a crazy “religious” person doesn’t translate well over the internet.
        But in case you are wondering, this is the second time that “Rapture” didn’t happen (the first was in 1994). I read a lot. And I’m Jewish, so please don’t lump me in the same group as the Rapture people.

  • Linda

    My heart is breaking over Jeff Conaway. He made us laugh and feel good about ourselves for many years. I believe he was a good soul. Nobody grows up hoping to be an addict. I don’t think he intended to be one. He had physical pain, horrific pain. Unless you’ve been there, you can’t say a word because you don’t know. I’m upset too that they took him off life support. I wish they’d left it alone for a couple more days, because had he died instantly after being taken off it, then I wouldn’t be upset. But since it took another day for him to die with no other medical measures, I feel like they left him to die. I had sepsis and pneumonia and was on life support and I lived. Thank God my husband didn’t pull the plug on me. I don’t believe Jeff is in hell. I’m a Christian and I believe God looks at people individually (their good works when they aren’t saved) and judges them. I do believe God is merciful to us. All of us have sinned and fallen short. A sin is a sin and there’s no such thing as big sins and little sins. May God comfort his family and I pray God has taken him to Heaven. If I think Jeff deserves to go there, how much more loving is our God to let him go? Please don’t call him a drug addict. I know that’s what he was, but, doctors made him that way. Opiates dictate your brain and makes your pain worse when your body doesn’t get enough opiates. Over time, your body craves more and more and unless you’ve felt the withdrawal yourself, you cannot possibly know what it’s like. RIP Jeff!

    • titaniumtestes

      More enabling.

      • @titaniumteste

        God is love. Every Christian follows the teachings of Chrst and does not attempt to glorify himself or judge others. We fall short but always give thanks for another day and another opportunity to show compassion to others. If I were you I would put that sword you speak of far out of sight lest you trip on it. Perfection is so far from who we are or will ever be.

      • Jeff B.

        Get a life a–hole! You must be a lonesome miserable loser who has nothing better to do but knock others. Try taking up ceramics or bowling, something that will stimulate your brain, it’s clearly not working right!

      • jaded

        @Titaniumtestes since you know G-d better than anyone else, why aren’t you in the clergy? Why aren’t you on your knees to G-d praying instead of being on a message board for “liberal” Hollywood? Because you’re a hypocrite. He who is without sin cast the first stone. And people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    • edge12

      i know the whole misery of opiate addiction and i’m only alive because of my wife…but you are so right….once you need to have opiates every day to function …you are so far down in a hole it would blow your mind!

    • mary monzo

      I totally agree. My son is an addict and the pain and suffering I go through daily over his addiction is unending. Tough Love! I don’t think so. I guess I’m an enabler and that is considered “Terrible” but I can’t just let him go. he suffers terribly – like a diabetic who needs the pills and insulin. A person doesn’t do a drug thinking he will become an addict! My family doesn’t smoke or drink – we just don’t – yet my son became an addict – with everything – mj, overeating, and the big H. I hate drug dealers – they are DEVILS. God Bless you Jeff – you will be missed. Love to your family

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