True Stories from the Set of Your Favorite Hollywood Musical: Grease

The slicked-back hair, the leather jackets, muscle cars, and summer romance – Grease is by far one of the most iconic musicals of all time. The 1978 movie about a musical throwback to the ’50s beat out the classic film ‘Wizard of Oz’ as the highest-grossing American movie musical of the 20th century. From high school auditoriums to local theaters to Broadway, this musical hit the stages and finally landed on set in Hollywood.

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta are sitting in the front of their car in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Paramount / Rso / Kobal / Shutterstock

But underneath the universally-adored exterior – the fantasy land where the bad boy gets the good girl – are backstage stories. The word from behind the scenes of Grease paint a different, less wholesome picture. Come along on a (less) musical journey to see what it was like making and faking the story of Grease. And later on, we take a look at the cast and what they’re up to today.

These are all the fun facts about Grease!

Olivia Newton-John’s Pants Were Sewn onto Her

Now those are tight pants! Olivia Newton-John’s skin-tight black leather pants were arguably a big part of the film and one of the most iconic outfits in cinema. Those super tight leather pants and her off-the-shoulder top still get nods in pop culture and fashion trends today. Not to mention that women love to dress up as her for Halloween, even today.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are dancing at the carnival, Olivia wearing tight black pants, in Grease, 1978.
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The actress admitted that those “pants changed my life.” But she didn’t necessarily mean in a good way. The process wasn’t easy. Newton-John’s leather pants were so tight that they had to be sewn onto her every day before filming. Zipper malfunction? Back to the chair. At the end of the day, the actress had to rip them off, only to start the process all over again the following morning. But hey – no pain, no gain, right?

John Travolta Tried to Heal the Director’s Foot with What?

Travolta is known for being a devout Scientologist, but the church wasn’t as famous when he was such a young actor. While filming Grease in the late ’70s, Travolta was just starting to explore the controversial religion that we all know of now. He delved into the religion enough to practice some of the church’s bizarre healing methods.

John Travolta in Grease
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And with his newfound knowledge, Travolta started using Scientology’s healing methods on the set after the dirty water from the drag race scene gave the director, Randal Kleiser, a foot infection. The infection was pretty severe, causing a halt in the production. But Travolta came to the rescue with the “touch assist” method. Kleiser’s account of the incident: “I was lying there with this fever, and he’s poking me and poking me and poking me and I’m like, ‘Yes, I feel it.’ ‘Thank you.’ Then he left. The next day I was better, and of course, he claimed it was because of the touch assist.”

Annette Charles Went from the Set to Surgery

Annette Charles was the actress who played the role of Cha Cha, and she was truly an artist who gave it her all. While she was filming her scenes for Grease, she suffered through a painful ectopic pregnancy (which is a complication of pregnancy where the embryo attaches outside the uterus). This kind of pregnancy can be very painful, and it was for Annette.

Annette Charles, John Travolta, and a group of extras dancing in the auditorium in Grease, 1978.
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But the true professional she is, she pushed off getting medical attention and saw the scene through. Though her doctor cleared her for doing the drag race scene with Danny and Craterface, Annette was no less in pain. You can still see her throughout the film leaning against cars in pain. But as soon as the scene wrapped up, she went directly to the hospital for surgery.

Rizzo’s Hickeys Were the Real Deal

It may have been 1978 when the film came out, but it was all about the ’50s. And Rizzo was at the cutting edge of that decade’s fashion. She wasn’t like the other girls – she stood apart with her blue jeans instead of girly poodle skirts. She was also a lot more risqué. Stockard Channing was the actress behind the character, and she revealed a juicy bit of gossip.

Stockard Channing in a long button-down shirt and blonde wig singing on the bed in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Moviestore Collection / Shutterstock

Channing later admitted that all of the hickeys she complained of in the movie were, in fact, real. Gasp! Apparently, Jeff Conway, the actor who played Kenickie, insisted on giving her genuine love bites. I guess he used method acting to his advantage. Pretty slick, man, pretty slick.

Their Neighbors Weren’t Happy Campers

Grease is a musical, so it’s obviously going to be full of singing and dancing scenes. This turned out to be quite a problem for actors Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty, whose offices were across Stage 24 (where Grease was being filmed). The cast both on and off set was seen (and heard) often playing dancing and singing games.

Jeff Conaway, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, and Stockard Channing are linking arms walking around the carnival in Grease, 1978.
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“They were yelling at us to shut up because they were trying to write, and we were making so much noise down here,” director Randal Kleiser told Bustle in an interview. Listen, I don’t blame the guys. If you had to listen to “Greased Lightning” over a hundred times a day while you’re trying to work, you’d be a bit cranky, too.

Fever on the Set

The Frosty Palace was the iconic ’50s diner in the movie, but filming Sandy’s date scene proved to be pretty difficult. During the filming of the scene, director Kleiser was running a temperature of 101 degrees. He could barely function. And guess what his fever was a result of? Yup, the foot infection. The day before this scene, the barefoot Kleiser got a cut during the drag race scene.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John on the beach on a date in Grease, 1978.
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“When I was shooting [at the Los Angeles River], it was very hot, so I was barefooted,” Kleiser recalled. “I cut my foot, and I walked through this river, and the next day I had a fever. We were shooting the Frosty Palace scene, and I was completely out of it. I had a 101-degree temperature because of cutting my foot here.” The good news? John Travolta saved him with his “methods.”

The Frosty Palace’s Blurred Pictures Were a Big Problem

In the scene at the Frosty Palace, where Sandy goes on a date with a jock, you might notice a blurred picture behind her. It turns out that there was a big mistake that almost cost the film production a good chunk of cash. The picture behind her is a Coca-Cola advertisement, but it was Pepsi that already made a product-placement deal with producer Allan Carr.

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta on a date in the diner in Grease, 1978.
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When Carr saw the diner scene, he forced Kleiser to reshoot it with Pepsi products and advertisements. This was costly and time-consuming, of course, so they came up with a different solution. They settled on blurring out the Coca-Cola ad instead and simply crossed their fingers that Pepsi wouldn’t complain (and they didn’t). Despite all their efforts, they ended up missing a red cooler with the competitor’s logo. Oops.

Some Extras Got Really Sick

The only thing hotter than Sandy’s black leather pants was the auditorium in Rydell High. When the auditorium dance scene was being filmed inside Huntington Park High School, it reached a temperature of 116 degrees. According to actor Eddie Deezen, who played the brief role of Eugene, it was absolutely unbearable. And the extras on set physically couldn’t handle it.

Eve Arden, Sid Caesar, and a group of extras dancing in the auditorium in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Alan Pappe / Paramount / Rso / Kobal / Shutterstock

“We filmed the big dance scene in a school auditorium… during a very hot summer,” Deezen wrote in a post. “The school was closed up, there was no air conditioning, and all the doors and windows had to stay closed because of light and sound control. It was reputedly 116 degrees in there while we filmed the dance scene over and over. Several extras had to be taken out because of heat-related illness.”

John Travolta Wanted His Close Up

And he wanted it bad. Before Grease, Travolta filmed ‘Saturday Night Fever,’ and these two movies turned John Travolta into a legend. The back-to-back hits helped him start what ended up being a life-long career. But having a hit before Grease didn’t mean that his ego wasn’t hungry for more. Apparently, the young actor was pissed off that he didn’t get a close-up.

John Travolta in Grease dancing on a car, 1978.
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At the end of the drive-in scene, Travolta wanted that close-up. According to Kleiser, Travolta was told to sit on a swing for a wider shot (not at all a close-up) while the hot dog cartoon played on the screen behind him. Travolta wasn’t having it at all. Kleiser remembered how it went down: “John says, ‘Well, aren’t we gonna do a close-up?’ And I said, ‘No, no, that was great.’ He was a little pissed off.”

Jeff Conaway’s Fall and Addiction to Pain Killers

Jeff Conaway rose to fame after playing Kenickie in this film. But what goes up must come down, right? And when I say down, I mean he literally fell. Though Conaway was known for his talent, he was also famous for his drug and alcohol addiction. It looks like his addiction actually started on the set of Grease.

Jeff Conaway was dancing in Grease, 1978.
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Conaway apparently injured his back after being dropped to the ground by another cast member during the “Greased Lightning” scene. Due to the injury, he was prescribed painkillers to get him through the scenes. But the kicker – he developed an addiction that lasted a lifetime and led to his demise. Conaway died when he was 60 years old. Pain killers can kill people! Be careful.

A Clash With a Bee Gee

Randal Kleiser was content with the Grease theme song. The original theme and opening credits had a ’50s tune set to an animation that was filled with references to the decade. It all made sense, but it was ultimately scrapped. Instead, the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb was brought in to do the new theme, but he and Kleiser weren’t getting along. “I listened to the lyrics, and they didn’t seem right for the movie,” Kleiser said of Gibb’s theme song.

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in his car in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Paramount / Rso / Kobal / Shutterstock

“They seemed a little dark. So I asked if Barry wouldn’t mind changing the lyrics to make them a little lighter. His solution was, ‘Why don’t you shoot a serious scene?’ Well, we didn’t shoot a serious scene and slapped the song on anyhow, and no one ever noticed that the lyrics were totally wrong for the movie. They were distracted by the animation. It’s good that I lost that creative choice because it was a giant hit. I would flip on the radio and hear the song at every station.”

John Travolta Stole Jeff Conaway’s Thunder

It was bad enough that Conaway fell during the filming of the scene “Greased Lightning,” which caused him lifelong pain and a deadly addiction. What’s worse – that ill-fated moment might never have happened if Travolta’s ego didn’t get in the way. That scene was supposed to be Conaway’s moment. The truth is that it was originally meant to be sung by Kenickie.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are dancing at the school dance in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Moviestore Collection / Shutterstock

But we know now that John Travolta, liking his close-ups, wanted the camera on him. He convinced the producers to make the number his instead of Conaway’s. The director gave Travolta the green light, but Conaway had to agree. Of course, the actor was bitter and, at first, refused. But he eventually gave up. And clearly, he was never the same.

Marie Osmond And Susan Dey Didn’t Want to Play Sandy

The famous Osmond sister, Marie Osmond, told Larry King on his show that she turned down the part of Sandy in Grease because she “didn’t want my teenagers someday to say, you know, ‘You have to go bad to get the boy.’ It was just a personal choice as a someday mother.” And it looks like Marie wasn’t the only one who rejected the role.

A scene from Grease with Olivia Newton-John running away from the bleachers, 1978.
Source: Shutterstock

Susan Dey (who played Laurie on The Partridge Family) said no to the role because she didn’t want to play yet another teenager. Then director Randal Kleiser went to the Star Wars stage to visit his college roommate and friend, George Lucas, to see Carrie Fisher in action. But Kleiser wasn’t sure that she would be right for the part, so he kept searching. Apparently, the singer Linda Ronstadt was also in consideration.

Olivia Newton-John’s One Condition

Yes, we know that Olivia Newton-John eventually got the part, but she insisted on having a screen test with John Travolta first. Producer and co-writer Allan Carr met Newton-John at a party that was thrown by an Australian singer named Helen Reddy. Apparently, Carr was “completely smitten” with Newton-John and begged her to sign on for the part of Sandy.

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Moviestore Collection / Shutterstock

Travolta later told The Morning Call in an interview that he also wanted for Newton-John to get the part. But she was only going to consider the part on one condition. Not trusting her good luck or her acting (her previous film was ‘Tomorrow,’ which was released years earlier, in 1970), Newton-John requested a screen test with Travolta. She wanted to make sure they had chemistry. And I guess they did!

The Movie Could Have Had an Adult Film Star

Andy Warhol and an adult film star was almost going to be cast if Paramount hadn’t stepped in. Carr really wanted Warhol to play the role of the art teacher. One studio executive (who remained unnamed) said he would not have “that man” in the film. Carr interpreted that remark as the executive’s personal vendetta against the famous artist.

Sid Caesar and John Travolta in Grease, 1978.
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Reportedly, Carr also wanted Harry Reems (a porn star) to play Coach Calhoun. Carr even offered him the part after a screening of ‘Casablanca’ at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion. But Paramount Studios wouldn’t have it. “They bounced me out of the cast,” Reems later said. “They thought they might lose some play dates in the South.” Carr felt so guilty about it that he gave Reems a personal check for $5,000. Not a bad rejection letter!

Most of the Actors Were Too Old to Be Teens

When you think about it, most of the main cast members were way too old to be high school students. Stockard Channing was 34 years old when the film was released! Olivia Newton-John was 29 years old. Jeff Conaway was 27. John Travolta was 24. And Jamie Donnelly was 30 when filming the musical about teenagers.

Dennis Stewart and Stockard Channing are dancing in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Paramount / Rso / Kobal / Shutterstock

Donnelly also had to dye her (premature) grey hair to black. And apparently, her hair grew back so fast that her roots had to be colored in every day with a black crayon.

Speaking of older people, Henry Winkler was considered for the role of Danny Zuko. Did you know that? So why didn’t he take the role? Well, as far as Winkler was concerned, Danny Zuko was just too similar to Fonzie, the tough guy teddy bear that he was already playing on Happy Days.

The Creepy Elvis Presley Lyric

In the movie’s song, “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” Rizzo sings the lyric: “Elvis, Elvis, let me be, keep that pelvis far from me,” all the while looking at a picture of The King of Rock’ n’ Roll. Now here’s the creepy part: that scene was shot on August 16, 1977 – the same day Elvis Presley died. I told you it was creepy!

Jamie Donnelly, Olivia Newton-John, Didi Conn, Stockard Channing, and Dinah Manhoff in the sleepover scene from Grease, 1978.
Photo by Paramount / Rso / Kobal / Shutterstock

“It was very eerie,” Kleiser said of the timing. “It was all over the news, so everyone knew. We did this number, and everybody kind of looked at each other like, ‘Yeah, this is creepy.'” When Carr bought the film rights to the movie, he even envisioned Elvis as Danny and Ann-Margret as Sandy. According to, Elvis was also offered the role of Teen Angel, but he turned it down.

Lorenzo Lamas Got a Role When the President’s Son Backed Out

Gerald Ford’s son, Steven, got the role of Tom Chisum, Sandy’s jock boyfriend. But when it came down to shooting the scenes, he was just too nervous about doing it. And the character didn’t even have any lines! Lorenzo Lamas was then asked to play the role of the silent jock. He jumped at the chance, also agreeing to lighten his dark hair because, apparently, he looked too much like a T-Bird.

Lorenzo Lamas with Olivia Newton-John standing on the bleachers in their school uniform in Grease, 1978.
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“I would have dyed it green, fuchsia, anything,” Lamas said. Lamas later played the role of Lance Cumson on Falcon Crest and also Hector Ramírez on The Bold and the Beautiful. So if you think you know his face from somewhere other than Grease, you’ve probably seen him on the soap opera.

Travolta’s Script Woos and Wins

Travolta just couldn’t seem to stop lip-syncing “heap lap trials” instead of “heat lap trials” in one scene, and Kleiser claims that you could see the mistake in the finished product. He thought that Travolta was distracted after having read an article that morning about his recently deceased girlfriend, Diana Hyland, who passed away from cancer. Yeah, that could do it.

Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, Didi Conn, Barry Pearl, Michael Tucci, Dinah Manoff, Jeff Conaway, and John Travolta at the diner surrounding one table.
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But Travolta was also able to get more of the original stage script into the movie. Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, the writers of the original musical’s book, weren’t even invited to the set during the production of Grease. Travolta, who played Danny more than 100 times on the road when doing the musical, gradually got more lines from the original version into the film. When Travolta didn’t think a line was working, he would quote a line from the original script. Kleiser would agree and use that line instead.

With the Help of George Lucas

As was mentioned earlier, Kleiser and Lucas were old pals and former college roommates. Almost 20 years after Grease came out in theaters, in 1997, Kleiser called Sherry Lansing, who was then the head of Paramount. He insisted that Grease had to come back for its 20th anniversary. Lansing then told Kleiser that George Lucas just told her the same thing.

George Lucas and Randall Kleiser in 1998.
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Lucas had called her a few days before Kleiser did and told her that, in his opinion, of all of the movies in the Paramount vault, it was Grease that should come back for the anniversary. The Star Wars creator explained to Lansing that every nine-year-old he knew was watching a VHS copy of Grease every day.

Wanna see the cast members today? Here we go…

John Travolta – Now 66

After his success with Saturday Night Fever and his breakout role in Welcome Back, Kotter, Travolta had already established himself as a bonafide performer when Grease came out. By the time the musical debuted, he had already been nominated for an Academy Award and had a top 10 single on the Billboard chart. Travolta was the “It Guy.”

John Travolta in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Moviestore Collection / Shutterstock

And after a slight bump in his career in the ’80s, he received his second Academy Award nomination for 1994’s Pulp Fiction. Travolta eventually made his way back to movie-musicals in 2007 when he played Mrs. Edna Turnblad in Hairspray. His most recent work was in the musical Cats, but it wasn’t his best decision, that’s for sure. The musical film won the Razzie’s Worst Picture prize of 2019. Travolta himself earned Worst Actor. Ouch.

Olivia Newton-John 0er5– Now 71

By the time Olivia Newton-John portrayed Sandy in Grease, she was already well-known for her budding music career. Three hits from her performance in Grease reached the top five on the Billboard chart, which made her the second woman to have more than two top 5 songs at the same time. Newton-John was nominated for a Golden Globe and performed the Oscar-nominated song “Hopelessly Devoted to You” at the 1979 Academy Awards.

Olivia Newton-John in Grease, 1978.
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After Grease, Newton-John launched her career as a musician and made her most successful studio album in 1981. She then took some time away from the industry to raise her child and released another album in 1992. But the singer was diagnosed with breast cancer soon after. Since her diagnosis, she started working as an advocate for cancer and founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Australia.

Jeff Conaway – Deceased

Jeff Conaway already had “Greased Lightning” on his mind before the film Grease was ever made. He was an understudy and eventual portrayer of Danny Zuko in the Broadway musical and joining the film cast as Kenickie, Danny’s best friend. As you already know, the film took him down a dark path of pain killers and addiction.

Jeff Conaway in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Paramount / Rso / Kobal / Shutterstock

But after the success of Grease, he starred in the hit TV series Happy Days and Taxi. Conaway ended up leaving Taxi after the third season due to his health issues. Since he was struggling with a substance-abuse for years, Conaway appeared in two seasons of the reality show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Conaway later died in 2011 from multiple causes, including pneumonia. He was 61.

Stockard Channing – Now 76

She was known for her feisty performance as leader of the pack – The Pink Ladies. Stockard Channing went on to play more strong female characters after her days in Grease. In the 1976 film Sweet Revenge, she played a car thief. In the 1979 film Silent Victory, she was a stuntwoman. She’s also known for playing the First Lady in the series The West Wing. Channing maintained her acting career well into the 2000s.

Stockard Channing in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Paramount / Rso / Kobal / Shutterstock

The West Wing brought her critical success, winning an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Since the end of the show in 2006, Channing redirected her career to the theater. She performed in both off-Broadway and Broadway productions, including Other Desert Cities, which got her a Tony nomination for Best Performance.

Barry Pearl – Now 69

Doody, the character portrayed by Barry Pearl, was the one who wore the famous T-Bird leather jacket, leaving the audience laughing with his comedic personality. After Grease, Pearl dabbled in some television performances in shows like Benson, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Murder She Wrote, and Beverly Hills, 90210.

Barry Pearl in Grease, 1978.
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Like others, Pearl was a fan of the theater. He made his way onto the stage and got a part starring in the Broadway musical Baby It’s You! After that musical, he went back to the set to act in the Lionsgate film The Newest Pledge. Similar to his Grease co-star Didi Conn, Barry Pearl made a cameo appearance as Mr. Weaver in Fox Network’s Grease: Live in 2016.

Didi Conn – Now 68

The fun-loving girl who just couldn’t stop smiling, Frenchy, was played by Didi Conn, who went from her singing in Grease and Grease 2 to living her professional life as an activist. After her performances in films, Conn starred in ABC’s Benson (which Barry Pearl also took a swing at) and the children’s TV show Shining Time Station.

Didi Conn in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Paramount / Rso / Kobal / Shutterstock

After her son was diagnosed with Autism, she began to advocate for the cause, becoming the spokesperson of Autism Speaks in 2008. She worked with the Foundation for Educating Children with Autism, which included performing at benefit concerts. In 2016, she made a cameo appearance in Grease: Live, making her the only actress to have been in all three of the Grease productions.

Michael Tucci – Now 73

Michael Tucci played Sonny, one of the five members of the T-Birds. After Grease, he followed a career both in front of and behind the camera, as well as on stage. After starring in TV series like The Paper Chase and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, Michael Tucci spent over three years touring in the musical Chicago as Roxy Hart’s husband, Amos.

Michael Tucci in Grease, 1978.
Source: Pinterest

He returned to TV, playing the character of Norman Briggs in the series Diagnosis: Murder. Tucci’s most recent work was the role of Melissa McCarthy’s father in the comedy The Heat.

Here’s a fun fact: did you know that Tucci was also a teacher and theatre coach? He taught at St. Francis High School in La Cañada Flintridge in California.

Dinah Manoff – Now 64

Dinah Manoff made her film debut in Grease as Marty, which took her into a career in both television and theater. She starred in the soap-opera comedy Soap in 1978, and then moved to Broadway and won a Tony for her performance in I Ought to Be in Pictures. By the ’80s, she embarked on some of her most well-known work.

Dinah Manoff in Grease.
Source: Pinterest

Manoff starred in the spinoff of the Golden Girls called Empty Nest for seven years. After appearing in movies like The Amati Girls in 2001, doing TV cameos, and a tribute documentary to Oscar Wilde, Dinah Manoff stepped away from show business. She returned, however, in 2009 with her performance in Bart Got a Room, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Kelly Ward – Now 63

Kelly Ward played Putzie in the film. Ward first gained attention as a character in the TV film The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, which also starred his Grease co-star John Travolta as the main character. After Grease, Ward went on to make appearances in TV shows such as M*A*S*H and Magnum, PI. He then decided that he would rather work behind the camera.

Kelly Ward in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Paramount / Rso / Kobal / Shutterstock

Ward started working as a voice director for Disney Television Animation, behind titles like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Never Land Pirates. While he loves being behind the scenes, he also loves being in front of his students. Ward is a musical theater professor at the University of Southern California.

Jamie Donnelly – Now 72

One of the ladies donning pink, Jamie Donnelly, brought the experience to her role of Jan. Donnelly originally played the character in Grease on Broadway and was then asked to bring her role to the film. In addition to her part in Grease, Donnelly is known for another major movie musical. Can you recognize her?

Jamie Donnelly in Grease, 1978.
Source: Pinterest

She played a part in the American premiere of The Rocky Horror Show, playing Magenta and The Usherette. Donnelly also went on to make appearances in other Hollywood projects, including Family Affair, Monk, and Ray Donovan. Like some of the others, Donnelly likes to teach. She’s an acting coach who lives in La Canada in California, with her husband Stephen Foreman, who is a novelist.

Susan Buckner – Now 67

Grease’s preppy cheerleader Patty Simcox was portrayed by the blonde bombshell Susan Buckner. After the 1978 box office hit, Buckner appeared on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour as well as The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. She kept a relatively low profile throughout her life, with her last appearance being on an episode of 1 vs. 100 in 2007.

Susan Buckner is standing with Olivia Newton-John in Grease, 1978.
Source: Pinterest

She is no longer an actress, but before she retired from show business, she was crowned as Miss Washington in 1971. Her acting career mainly consisted of supporting roles in TV, stage, and film. Her role as Patty Simcox is by far her most notable role. She was also one of The Krofftettes who did synchronized swimming routines on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

Sid Caesar – Deceased

The sketch-comic and actor, Sid Caesar, starred as Coach Calhoun in Grease, the man who was infamously pied in the face at the end and the man who coached Danny to letter-sweater glory. Caesar was responsible for shows like Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour. He was considered to be the “comedian of comedians.”

Sid Caesar in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Paramount / Rso / Kobal / Shutterstock

Caesar was nominated for 11 Emmys throughout his career. After being in both Grease and Grease 2, he would sometimes host Saturday Night Live. Caesar sadly died in 2014 at the impressive age of 91. He is one of the greats, with Billy Crystal having written in 2005, “What kind of comedy would I be doing if I hadn’t seen Sid Caesar?”

Eve Arden – Deceased

Arden played the role of Principal McGee in Grease. She brought with her a wealth of TV and movie experience as well as success. Having started her career in the 1930s, Eve Arden starred in the 1937 film Stage Door and won an Oscar for her role in the 1945 film Mildred Pierce. She was later Miss Connie Brooks in CBS’s Our Miss Brooks between 1952 and 1956.

Eve Arden in Grease, 1978.
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Arden became the first-ever woman to get a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. After being Principal McGee in both Grease and Grease 2, she retired from the movie industry and focused on television, appearing in shows like Masquerade and Falcon Crest. Arden passed away in 1990 at the age of 82.

Joan Blondell – Deceased

Joan Blondell had numerous credits before she ever signed on to play the gang’s waitress at their favorite spot to eat – the Frosty Palace. Like her fellow co-star Eve Arden, Blondell started her career in the 1930s, having starred in more than 100 film and television productions. Her most notable role was her performance in the 1951 movie, The Blue Veil.

Joan Blondell in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Paramount / Rso / Kobal / Shutterstock

She earned herself an Academy Award nomination for that part. In the latter half of her acting career, Blondell received yet another nomination; this time, it was a Golden Globe for her role in the 1977 film Opening Night. After being in Opening Night, Blondell starred in two more feature films, one of which was Grease. Blondell passed away in 1979 at age 73.

Alice Ghostley – Deceased

Mrs. Murdock wasn’t like the other ladies of Grease; she sported dungarees instead of the poodle skirt and helped the T-Birds gang fix up Greased Lightnin’. The loveable Mrs. Murdock was portrayed by Alice Ghostley, the Tony-winning actress who brought decades of acting experience with her to the set of Grease.

Alice Ghostley in Grease, 1978.
Source: Pinterest

Starting her career in the ’50s, Ghostley appeared in all kinds of film and TV projects, including the 1962 movie To Kill a Mockingbird and the TV show Bewitched. After Grease, Ghostley starred in a few series, including The Julie Andrews Hours and Designing Women, which she earned an Emmy nomination. Sadly, we can see a pattern here – Ghostley also passed away in 2007 at the age of 84.

Frankie Avalon – Now 79

Frankie Avalon filled the role of Grease’s heartthrob, who sings to Frenchy in the diner, but Avalon was no newcomer to show business. He already starred in films like Guns of the Timberland and The Alamo before Grease. He also did the classic “Beach Party” film series with Annette Funicello. Avalon secured his spot as an actor, singer, and loveable teen idol.

Frankie Avalon surrounded by the girls in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Moviestore Collection / Shutterstock

Avalon’s “Beauty School Dropout” was a big hit and went on to be a song that he would reprise in the ’90s and 2000s. Avalon also later starred in the 1987 film Back to the Beach, and as of late, he’s appeared in stage productions of Grease. Avalon and his wife, Kay, have eight kids! Two of them have even performed on tour with their famous father.

Eddie Deezen – Now 63

Eugene wasn’t the only nerd actor Eddie Deezen would portray in his career. He also played other nerdy characters in movies like I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Stephen Spielberg’s 1941. Deezen decided to transition into voice-acting in the ’80s and has been the voice behind characters you might be familiar with.

Eddie Deezen is standing in a red hat, red party necklace, and his glasses next to two of the guys in Grease, 1978.
Source: Pinterest

His voice can be heard in Kim Possible, What’s New Scooby-Doo, Dexter’s Laboratory, and The Polar Express. Deezen hasn’t been so active as of later, but he still lives in the expensive town of Hollywood. According to the former Grease nerd, “Along with my unemployment checks and residual checks, I will continue living the ‘great American dream’ – getting paid while doing absolutely nothing.”

Annette Charles – Deceased

Along with her part in Grease as the flirtatious teenager Cha Cha, Annette Charles was involved in other projects in the ’70s and ’80s. She landed roles in 80s TV shows, including The Incredible Hulk and Magnum, PI. She later decided to leave the world of television, and she went on to become a speech professor at California State University. She died, however, in 2011. The actress and professor was 63.

Annette Charles with Dennis Stewart in Grease, 1978.
Photo by Paramount / Rso / Kobal / Shutterstock

Charles was born in Los Angeles and died in Los Angeles. Her death was due to complications from cancer. She was initially hospitalized for pneumonia, but it was brain cancer that took her life. She passed away three months after her Grease co-star Jeff Conaway died.

Dennis Cleveland Stewart – Deceased

Dennis Cleveland Stewart was a dancer and an actor, making his mark in Grease as the leader of the T-Bird’s rival gang, the Scorpions. He also acted in Grease 2 as the leader of the Cycle Lords. Dennis also had a dancing role in the 1978 musical comedy, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and he continued to work in the entertainment industry doing both TV and film.

Dennis Stewart in Grease, 1978.
Source: IMDB, Paramount Pictures

Stewart, unfortunately, died from AIDS in 1994 at the age of 46. But before his death, he made his mark in Hollywood. Sadly, the man contracted the deadly virus just a year before, in 1993. Back then, the illness was a lot less treatable, and it claimed lives much sooner.