May 19, 2011 / 7:26 PM / 8 years ago

"Grease" actor Jeff Conaway critical after overdose

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jeff Conaway, former star of the film “Grease” and the 1970s TV series “Taxi” has been hospitalized due to an apparent overdose of painkillers.

Actor Jeff Conaway arrives at the international gala premiere of Cirque du Soleil's new show "Zumanity" at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, September 20, 2003. REUTERS/Ethan Miller EM

Conaway’s manager Phil Brock said on Thursday the actor was in “critical but stable condition” at a Los Angeles area hospital and was “unconscious and unresponsive”.

The 60-year-old actor, who has a history of addiction to cocaine, alcohol and prescription painkillers, was found unconscious at his home last week by a friend and may have been there for about 10 hours before being discovered.

Conway has yet to come to although he did turn his head briefly last Sunday, Brock said.

Brock said the actor was suffering from pneumonia and was already sick at the time of the overdose.

Conaway’s troubles with addiction were documented in 2008 on the TV series “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew”.

Brock said that prior to the overdose, his client “had been despondent in the last two months due to a girlfriend situation, but a week and a half ago he was much more upbeat.”

Conaway was also recovering from back surgery, which hindered his ability to stand. But he recently made an appearance at an autograph show in southern California where he was able to stand and interact with fans.

“That was a positive point for him,” said Brock.

Brock, who had advised his client against appearing on reality shows, said Conaway had a rough childhood.

“When he was 7 years old, his grand-mother let him taste the moonshine she made in her bathtub; when he was 10 and a child actor, his dad took all his money and ran away. Later, Jeff had a the world in his hand and would find ways to destroy it,” Brock told Reuters.

Brock said that in the last month, Conaway’s “Grease” co-star John Travolta offered to pay for the troubled actor to go to rehab.

“Jeff wasn’t opposed to it, but he wasn’t ready yet,” said Brock.

Brock said that since the news of Conaway’s hospitalization, his office has been flooded with calls from the actor’s childhood and high school friends, offering well wishes.

“Putting aside his demons, Jeff is the nicest, kindest, gentlest soul,” said Brock. “He’s a wonderful man, which makes it doubly sad that he is unable to conquer drugs. As a human being, he’s the person who’d literally give the shirt off his back for someone. In our office, having worked with him for 8 yeas, we hope and pray for his recovery.”

Reporting by Zorianna Kit; Editing by Jill Serjeant

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