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Jeff Conaway was a recognizable face to anyone coming of age in the ’70s and ’80s. Best known for his role as Kenickie in the beloved movie musical Grease, he also had several other high-profile parts and established himself as a talented character actor. In Grease, Kenickie is a fan of fast cars and loud movies. But in real life, Conaway had a soft spot for romantic comedies. In a 2020 interview, actor Kate Beckinsale revealed that he considered her 2001 Christmas rom-com, Serendipity, his “absolute favorite movie.”

Jeff Conaway rose to fame in the late ’70s

Grease star Jeff Conaway favorite movie
John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, and Jeff Conaway on the ‘Grease’ set | Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Conaway was born into an entertainment family and got his start as a child model before transitioning to a career on stage. He first portrayed Kenickie in the stage production of Grease, although he also played the lead role of Danny Zuko in the stage show before that part went to his good friend and co-star John Travolta

Following the success of Grease, Conaway began landing TV roles. In 1978, the same year Grease premiered, the actor snagged the role of struggling actor Bobby Wheeler in the hit TV series Taxi. He acted on the show until 1982.

In the ensuing years, Conaway acted prolifically in TV series and movies, most notably the sci-fi show Babylon 5.

Unfortunately, Conaway died in 2011 due to an accidental drug overdose, CNN reported. The actor had been transparent about his substance abuse issues for years, but his death was still a blow to fans who had grown up with the character of Kenickie.

What did Kate Beckinsale say about Jeff Conaway’s love for ‘Serendipity’?

On the other side of the entertainment spectrum from Grease is the 2001 movie Serendipity, starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack. The film tells the story of two people searching for each other years after the night they first met, fell in love, and separated, convinced they would end up together one day. Reportedly, Conaway was a huge fan of the film, as Beckinsale detailed to Vulture in 2020.

“One night, I was at a hotel, washing my hands in the bathroom, and this very nice woman came out of the stalls and said, ‘Oh, are you Kate?'” recalled Beckinsale, who admitted to being a huge fan of Grease. “And she said, ‘I’m Jeff Conaway’s girlfriend.’ He’d passed away. And she said, ‘I want to let you know Serendipity is his absolute favorite movie. We watch it on Christmas every year.’ My 7-year-old self fell apart.”

The ‘Grease’ and ‘Taxi’ actor was a hopeless romantic

Vikki Lizzi and Jeff Conaway
Vikki Lizzi and Jeff Conaway attend Cher Rue’s Annual Christmas Charity Event on Dec. 4, 2010, in LA | Amy Graves/WireImage

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Beckinsale didn’t reveal the name of the woman who had approached her in the bathroom, but she was likely Vikki Spinoza, aka Vikki Lizzi, who was with Conaway leading up to his death. Lizzi and Conaway were together for seven years. However, following the actor’s death, she told Inside Edition she had a contentious relationship with his family and had been barred from Conaway’s deathbed.

“It’s like I didn’t even exist for seven years, all that time spent loving this man, taking care of him,” Lizzi said.

Conaway and Lizzi never tied the knot, but the actor married three times. His first marriage, according to IMDb, was to a dancer, but they had their union annulled after a couple of years. His second wife was Rona Newton-John, the sister of his Grease co-star Olivia Newton-John. They were married for five years before divorcing in 1985. And his third and final union was with Kerri Young. Their marriage lasted 10 years before their 2000 split.

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.