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Jeff Conaway remembered by loved ones on birthday

October 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Friends and family gathered in Encino to remember the late Jeff Conaway on what would have been his 61st birthday.

Conaway, who battled addiction problems for years, died in late May, riddled with major infections his body could no longer fight.

Wednesday night, loved ones got together to remember someone who mattered in their lives.

"I'm telling you, we saw him the last two weeks of his life and I really thought he was going to pull through. I mean, he really seemed like he was a cat with nine lives and he was going to be OK," said Marilu Henner, Conaway's friend.

Randall Carver worked with Conaway on "Taxi." He saw him last at his convalescent facility on Super Bowl Sunday.

"There was Jeff, walking around with a walker, handing out hors d'oeuvres and being just the life of the party. He was developing a screenplay, wanted me to be in it and work with him and all this. He had all these great ideas and everything. He never lost hope," said Carver.

Barry Pearl, one of Conway's "Grease" co-stars hosted the celebration at his home, and he got an interesting wake-up call.

"When the alarm, the radio went off, it was Frankie Valley singing, 'Grease is the Word," said Pearl.

"We shared something in common very special 30 years ago and it transcends time," said Kelly Ward, who played Putzie in "Grease."

Actress Susan Buckner, who played Patty Simcox on "Grease," said life is all about friendship, and Conaway was everybody's friend.

"We had the high school experience that everybody wants to have. People look at it and say, "that's the way it should be,'" described Jamie Donnelly, who played Jan in "Grease."

Conaway's co-star in the Broadway version of "Grease" was also at the party. Carole Demas became Conaway's leading lady off-screen for a while.

"So he came home for scrambled eggs and stayed for five years. What can I say? And it seems like I'm one of many women who still love him," said Demas.

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