We interrupt normal service (I normally post a Rule on Wednesdays) to celebrate the life of Jeff Conaway, the actor who played the part of bad boy love god Kenickie in Grease.
He died on Friday from pneumonia – not a drug overdose as initially report. Although the official cause states that years of drug abuse had led to him not taking the condition seriously enough. You can read the whole sordid thing on Wikipedia if you really want to.
Such a sad stupid way to go, but strangely in keeping with his image in the film. There was a reason he played the bad boy so well – he actually was one.
Which is exactly why he always made the film for me. From the first time I saw him shaking it up in the ‘Summer Nights’ routine, I was smitten. The bit with the comb – remember?
John Travolta was utterly loveable in Grease. And while I find his religious beliefs beyond creepy, I still adore him as an actor – and a dancer.
The very particular way he says ‘I’m trying to iron here…’ and ‘How am I supposed to negotiate pleats?’ in the movie of the Hairspray musical, are two popular catch phrases in my house.
So, as slightly soppy Danny, John Travolta was perfect. But it was proper greaser Kenickie who stole the film for me – along with his gal, Rizzo, who has the best ballad in the film: ‘There are worst things I could do, than go with a boy – or two…’.
We’re gonna rooool the school. I could go on, as you can probably tell.
So I was very sad to hear about Mr Conaway, but it was interesting that it coincided with my just-add-hot-water instant mini crush on Rob Lowe – another bad boy.
I didn’t fancy Rob Lowe much when he first emerged. Too clean, too gay looking. When The Outsiders came out (adapted from the favourite book of my teenage years, by S E Hinton) like any other hot blooded woman, it was Matt Dillon who iced my cake.
I didn’t even start to get the point of Rob Lowe until he’d been disgraced a couple of times and it’s only now in maturity, when his face is looking, as my friend Barbie says, ‘slept in’ that I have realised he is a god of hot.
I wonder why bad boys have this appeal? I’m not sure I’m proud of it, but I think it might be quite healthy for us all to get our attraction to men who live on the edge out of systems in celebrities crushes, because in real life they’re no fun to be around at all.
So vale, Jeff Conaway. Farewell, Kenickie. You will always live on in our collective hearts – and in my much-viewed video copy of Grease.