On June 16, 1978, Grease debuted in theaters.

• Henry Winkler Turned Down Playing Danny. As far as Henry Winkler was concerned, Danny Zuko was too similar to Fonzie, the tough guy with a heart of gold he was already playing on Happy Days.

• Marie Osmond and Susan Dey Said No to Playing Sandy. Marie Osmond told Larry King that she turned the part down because she “didn’t want my teenagers some day to say, you know, ‘You have to go bad to get the boy.’ It was just a personal choice as a some day mother.” Dey (Laurie on The Partridge Family) didn’t want to play another teenager.

• Most of the Main Actors Were Too Old to Be in High School. Stockard Channing (Rizzo) was 34 when the film was released. Newton-John was 29. Jeff Conaway (Kenickie) was 27. Travolta was 24. Jamie Donnelly (Jan) was 30 during filming, and had to dye her hair from her premature grey to black. Her hair grew back so quickly that her roots had to be colored in with a black crayon every day.

• Rizzo’s Hickeys Were Real. Conaway gave Channing a real hickey because he wanted it to be authentic.

• Travolta Kept Flubbing a Word So Much It Was Kept in the Movie. Travolta kept lip-syncing “heap lap trials” instead of “heat lap trials,” and the director claims you could see this in the finished product.

• Newton-John Was Sewn Into Those Spandex Pants. The actress said, “They sewed me into those pants every morning for a week. Believe me, I had to be very careful about what I ate and drank. It was excruciating.” It was 106 degrees on the set for the carnival finale.

• Where’s the Grease? Grease may be the word, but it’s never said even once in the entire script. Only the word greased (with a “d”) is sung in the song Greased Lightnin’.

• Sister Connection. John Travolta’s sister, Ellen Travolta, plays a diner waitress with a single line, “Oh, there’s Danny and Sandy,” while watching the dance on TV.

• Rydell High is actually three different real Los Angeles high schools. The facade is Venice High School, the interior is Huntington Park High School, and the field is John Marshall High School.

• Grease won every People’s Choice Award for which it was nominated: Favorite Motion Picture Actress (Olivia Newton-John), Favorite Motion Picture Supporting Actress (Stockard Channing), Favorite Musical Motion Picture, and Favorite Overall Motion Picture.

• After the success of the first movie Grease was supposed to have three sequels; however, after Grease 2 bombed at the box office, those plans were canceled.

Beth Bradley

Beth Bradley

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