Grease (the movie)… Things you probably didn’t know!

Music | December 12, 2017

Grease Australian singer and actress Olivia Newton-John and American actor John Travolta as they appear in the Paramount film 'Grease', 1978. (Photo by Paramount Pictures/Fotos International/Getty Images)

The iconic movie, Grease, was released in 1978. It starred John Travolta as Danny, Olivia Newton-John as Sandy, Stockard Channing as Rizzo, Jeff Conway as Kenickie, Didi Conn as Frenchy, Jamie Donnelly as Jan, Dinah Manoff as Marty, Barry Paul as Doody and Michael Tucci as Sonny. The production was a musical, romantic comedy set in the 1950’s. It chronicled the lives and antics of a group of high school friends.

I am almost positive that you all know the story. I also bet, however, that you may not have been aware of the countless happenings, behind the scenes as well as things that happened right under our noses, on screen, that we missed. How much of the trivia below did you actually know?

• In the stage shows before Grease was made into a film, Jeff Conaway, who plays Kenickie, played Danny and John Travolta played Doody. Richard Gere also auditioned to play Danny in the movie, but John was given the part because of his role in 'Saturday Night Fever'. Also, Didi Conn, who plays Frenchy, wanted to play Rizzo.

• The fictitious, Rydell High, was actually named with 1960’s teen idol, Bobby Rydell, in mind.

• John Travolta was personally responsible for coming up with the, “too cool for school walk", that Danny used in the first scenes of the movie. It was his way of getting into his character and trying to create a bad boy image.

• Olivia Newton-John had hardly done any acting and was terrified of the idea of starring in a big-budget musical.

• Producers wanted to portray Danny as being taller than Kenickie so Jeff Conaway had to walk slightly stooped and use other tricks to make himself appear shorter than he was.

• When a group of waitresses at the ice-cream parlor were watching the dance off on television, one of them said, "There's Danny and Sandy”. The waitress that made that statement is John Travolta's sister, Ellen Travolta.

• Stockard Channing was 33 when Grease was being made, and she was supposed to be playing a teenager. She was also the oldest of the main cast members. Also, the hickeys on her neck in the film were real!

• Dinah Manoff was the only main cast member who was actually of high school age during the filming of the movie. She was 18 at the time. Dinah Manoff was a terrible dancer so she was not included the big dance numbers. She also, momentarily lost control of that strapless, green dress she wore to the dance off and had to quickly hike it up!

• During the slumber party scene, the objects on the bed’s headboard mysteriously changed! Also, while Rizzo was singing, Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee, she goes to a photo of Elvis Presley and sings, "Elvis, Elvis, let me be". This scene was actually filmed on the same day Elvis died.   

• The plastic wrap used to wrap the car during the Greased Lightning song scene was a blatant sexual reference. In the 50's, Saran Wrap was often used in lieu of condoms.

• At the end of the group dance when Danny and Cha-Cha, played by Annette Charles, collect their trophy, Marty could be seen falling and couldn’t get up because she kept stepping on her dress.

• Jamie Donnelly had to dye her hair black daily during the shoot as she had prematurely grey hair.

• When Frenchy and Doody made their entrance to the National Dance-Off, Frenchy asked Doody how she looked. Doody replied, "Like a beautiful blonde pineapple.,"  That line was completely ad-libbed.

• In the pep rally scene where everyone is rushing up to see what Coach Calhoun has to say, you can see a brown-headed girl rush forward, and then you can see a hand reach out and pinch her bottom.

• After Danny and Cha-Cha won the dance off, everyone gets together for the big finale and end of the song.  Look for the girl in the green dress behind Vince Fontaine. As everybody gets up, her dance partner kissed her foot and she laughed.

• During the Thunder Road race between Danny and Crater Face, played by Dennis Stewart, there is stagnant water laying in parts of the famous “quarter mile” that actually made some of the cast members sick. After Kenickie’s car won the race, you can see him, almost tip-toeing through it trying to avoid too much contact.

• Towards the end of the movie, there is a group of students rushing out of Rydell High and onto the school grounds for the Graduation Carnival. These people were winners of a contest allowing them the privilege of being in the movie.

• Olivia Newton-John had to be sewn into those tight black, leather pants at the end of the movie because the zipper had broken. She wasn’t allowed to take them off until filming was over because sewing them back on was time-consuming.

I could literally go on and on with this subject. This movie was filled with so many continuity issues, mistakes and fun trivia (far more than I have mentioned here).  Most of it right over my head. I, personally, can’t believe that as many times as I have seen this movie, I didn’t know these things. This information won’t change your life, but the next time you have a chance to watch Grease on a rainy Sunday afternoon, see how many of these things you can pick out.

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Rebeka Knott


Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.