Jeff Conaway (RIP)

I’ve seen Grease probably 50 times; I own the movie and would watch again anytime. I simply don’t get tired of it (or Saturday Night Fever, Risky Business, Goodfellas, When Harry Met Sally, Chicago, etc.) First, I love musicals generally. Second, it was just something my friend Kathy and I did week after week in high school … went to see Grease or SNF. That’s what we did … and then we stopped for pie (I usually got coconut cream, occasionally blueberry). I’m not so much into pie now, but I still love those two movies, and I don’t think it has anything to do with John Travolta, though I realize of course he’s common to both. That’s just coincidence.

Let’s talk Grease. Danny Zuko was kind of a jerk of a character, not exactly a superhot “romantic” lead, if you ask me. He pretended to be someone he wasn’t to attract Sandy during the summer, and then when he saw her at school, he hurt her feelings by acting Mr. Cool because his friends were more important to him. A duke would never do that. Or even an earl or a pirate or a cowboy or a corporate raider … pick your romance novel hero. Then when Danny decided he wanted Sandy back, he began a groveling campaign … ick, right? Romantic heroes do  not grovel! They may cave, a little, but that’s all and you have to be uber-perceptive to pick up on it.

But Kenickie (Jeff Conaway’s character), he was a hero! He was hot and he knew it, and he didn’t take any crap. He stayed true to himself throughout, and when Rizzo began her pregnancy rumor, he immediately stepped up. At the end, after he knew the rumor was fake and she had told him she’d been with someone else (whether he believed her or not, we don’t know), he repeated his offer “to make an honest woman of her.” Kenickie was cool; Zuko was a dork.

I’m having a hard time with Conaway’s death … he was only 60. That’s getting too close for comfort. When old celebrities die, I can say, well, they are old, not my generation. But this? It’s getting closer. And this wasn’t skiing into a tree or some freak thing either. Drugs, pneumonia. Doesn’t seem that “out there.” Plus I liked the guy. Just liked him. Obviously didn’t know him, but still. Sad. And scary.


9 responses to “Jeff Conaway (RIP)

  1. Oh, man. I didn’t realize he was only 60. That is much, much, much too young. Not that any age is fine, but, whoa. That’s “like whoa,” y’know? You do. That’s what you were saying.

    I always liked him better than Danny, too. 🙂


  2. Kenickie was the shit. I HAD to watch Taxi, just to see Conaway and his hair. He was far too young to go, and it’s getting scary. Dylan is 70. Suddenly, I’m old.


  3. Hmmm. Now I always thought that away from his friends, Danny was able to be himself, but once back at school he felt he had an image to maintain. Also, the pregnancy was a rumor? I thought Rizzo really did think she was pregnant, but it turned out to be a false alarm. Now I’m going to have to watch it again. Rizzo was always my favorite character of the movie.


    • Well, could be some of each with Danny (like he had some sweetness in him that came out at the beach, but he hid during school time), but he definitely wasn’t a jock, but he went out for track to impress Sandy after she had a date with some sports lunkhead at the malt shop. That was fake, but then became real, I suppose, after Danny earned a letterman’s sweater. Then Sandy became fake herself, dressed up in leather at the end, but that could be just for one night, so I don’t really count that too much … besides women get to do that sometimes, lol.

      I’ve always assumed Rizzo’s pregnancy “scare” was fake because she so deliberately began the rumor knowing it would immediately get back to Kenickie and then she so coldly told him it was “someone else’s mistake.” She wanted to hurt him. If she had really been worried she was pregnant, I don’t think she would have acted like that. Yep, Rizzo was also a great character!


  4. Even though Rizzo was a 35-yr-old high school senior, she was my favorite character in Grease. I remember walking out of the movie. thinking wait a minute, to get the guy she had to change who she was? F**k that! I was in 9th grade.

    This may be why I have stayed single for most of my life.,


  5. It’s crappy, ya know, all that yours truly can remember of Grease is John Travolta’s pelvic thrusts in mid-song. Must have seared the memory, there.

    Any time to die is too soon, though the Conaway fellow cannot be placed in my files. This is possibly what happens when one outsources one’s memories to Google. 😦


  6. I have no idea who Jeff Conaway was. Did not see “Grease”, did not watch “Taxi”. I’m posting a comment because I can relate to how close to home it hits when a contemporary dies, someone you grew up with, and who grew up with you, as it were. You’ve aged together, followed fashion together. You have friends the same age. It sucks.


  7. He was born two days before me, in 1950. You know, you’re right–in some ways he exceeded Travolta even though he had a subordinate role. I believe he did the same thing to Tony Danza in Taxi. That character always wanted to be an successful actor.

    At this age, you have to be a little philosophical to keep from living like you’re going to die.


  8. He was only 60, but he put his body through a lot of abuse. I’m not sure you can batter it like that year after year after year without some kind of lasting damage or weakness.

    I love Kenickie.


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