Grease is by far one of the best musical movies of all time. Set in the ‘50s, the movie has everything we could possibly want – singing, dancing, costumes, high school, ice cream…and Danny Zuko (swoon). There are few things that go together like ding-a-le-ding-de-dong… but Grease and movie nights are some of them. Check out some of the things you probably didn’t know about Grease…
The Grease Animation
You may remember that the credits and the intro of Grease was created in an animated format. All of the characters, the hangouts and the props were all in animation. This is because the whole film was meant to be an animation. However, the producers eventually decided to go with a live-action movie but kept in these little animation snippets as a nod to this idea.
There nearly wasn’t a Sandy
Well, there nearly wasn’t an Olivia Newton-John. At the time when she was asked about the role, she wasn’t convinced she would be a good fit for the role, or that she could pass as a high school student. She asked to do a screen test, and when she saw that she played a high-schooler pretty well, she decided to take the part.
In your average movie, your backup dancers would be named Dancer #1 and Dancer #2. But Grease went the extra mile, and all of their dancers were named, keeping in with their ‘50s theme. Their dancers were called Sauce, Bart, Moose, and Bubba. We’re guessing those weren’t their actual names, but they’re definitely better than being nameless, that’s for sure.
Remember when Zuko and Kenickie had that really emotional moment where Zuko offered to ride at Thunder Road for him? You might remember that they had a very emotional, yet very brisk man hug. If you can call it a hug, it was more a quick-embrace-turned-pat-on-the-back. It was Jeff Conaway’s (who played Kenickie) idea to do this because he said that men wouldn’t have hugged properly back in the ‘50s.
Jamie Donnelly played the Pink Lady, Jan in the movie. But by the time she had accepted the role, she had started growing gray hairs. To make sure she passed as a teen at high school, Donnelly had to die her hair to look the part. Don’t worry, Jamie – happens to the best of us.
A bit of blur
You may notice that throughout the movie, there are certain images that are blurred out. This is because Grease struck a deal with Coca-Cola to use product placement within the movie, but the deal fell through half way through production. The team couldn’t shoot the scenes again, so decided to blur out all of the Coca-Cola products instead.
Hopelessly devoted to the other guy
In a twist of Grease fate, Kenickie and Sandy got together…sort of. Jeff Conaway had a huge crush on Olivia Newton-John during filming, but nothing ever developed. He did go on to marry her sister though, so he at least married into the family…
That was sick
And we don’t mean sick, as in cool. After the Thunder Road race, many of the cast members began feeling sick and vomiting. It turns out that the water on the course was stagnant and was contaminated with some not-so-friendly bacteria. Eugh.
When Sandy came out in her costume in the end carnival scene, we were insanely jealous. How can a human woman look like that?! But it seems it wasn’t as easy as it looked. She has since reported that she had to be sewn into her pants during these scenes and said it was extremely uncomfortable..especially since it was 106 degrees on the set. Ouch.
You’re the one that I want!
You’re The One That I Want is one of our favorite songs out of the whole movie. The costumes, the setting, the dancing, the singing…you couldn’t get better. And as much as it looked like a complicated scene to film, it actually only took an afternoon to film! They were naturals.
Danny stole the show
The movie was an adaptation of the stage production. And in this stage production, it is not Danny who sings ‘Greased Lightning.’ Instead, it is Kenickie. But when it came to filming the movie, John Travolta managed to persuade producers that he would be better at signing this part than Kenickie. Well then….
If we met Olivia Newton-John, I think it’s fair to say we’d be pretty starstruck. But it’s often hard to imagine the fact that other celebs would become lost for words over other celebrities. It seems John Travolta is exempt from this category. Travolta first met Newton-John at her home, and he was completely star struck as he was a huge fan.
An odd fear
Many people are afraid of spiders, afraid of sharks, or enclosed spaces. But we don’t know many people who are afraid of carnivals – apart from Olivia Newton-John. This fear led to her almost refusing to do the carnival scene, because she couldn’t bear being on set. Eventually, John Travolta convinced her to carry on. And we think she did a pretty good job.
Jeff Conaway is known for his acting…as well as his problem with drugs. He has often been reported as abusing his prescription medication – all because of a fall he had during filming. While filming the ‘Greased Lightning’ scene, he was dropped on his back and suffered chronic pain.
We all remember Cha Cha, who didn’t ‘go with’ Danny to the dance, but just ‘went with’ him. But before she filmed the racing scene, Cha Cha was hospitalized because of an ectopic pregnancy. She checked herself out of the hospital to film the scene, before returning to the hospital that night for emergency surgery.
They were real hickeys
Remember those hickeys from Kenickie? Well, they were real. We see Rizzo trying to cover them up in the movie, thinking they were just the work of a makeup artist. But Jeff Conaway insists that he was the one who gave Rizzo those real hickeys. Well, we don’t quite know how to feel about that…
Elvis, The King
Although he didn’t play a physical part in the movie, Elvis was there in spirit. In the song, ‘Sandra Dee,’ Rizzo sings about The King. They decided to add these lyrics into the song that day because that was the day Elvis died. R.I.P The King.
A different name
As mentioned earlier, the movie was based on the Broadway production of the show, Grease. And in the show, the T-Birds weren’t called the T-Birds…they were called the ‘Burger Palace Boys.’ We’re pretty glad they changed it, T-Birds is a much better fit.
It was a pretty big deal
It’s no surprise that Grease was a pretty big deal. Everyone loved it, and it became a huge hit. In fact, the movie won the title of the highest grossing movie of 1978 – earning $387 million. Woweeeeee.
When John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John turned up for the Grease premiere, they kept with the theme. Newton-John turned up wearing a pink prom dress, and Travolta was wearing his Danny Zuko outfit. We knew they were the best. They’ve earned extra brownie points for that.
Too hot to handle
The school dance contest scene was one of the most active scenes within the movie – which didn’t help when they came to film it. The scene was filmed in the summer, and in a school gym that had no air conditioning. The cast were even told they couldn’t open the doors because it would affect the lighting. It became so hot in there that many extras had to be taken away because they became ill from the heat.
An added extra
The song, ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ is one of the movies most iconic songs. But this song was an afterthought. Producers felt like the movie needed a more emotional side to it, and so the song was added after the filming of the movie had ended. And it was a good decision because the song was nominated for an Academy Award.
A bit older than intended
Of course, we know the students of Rydell High as high school students. But in real life, the cast were far from the ages of high school kids. Olivia Newton-John was 28, John Travolta was 23, Jeff Conaway was 26, Stockard Channing was 33, and Barry Pearl was 27. Well, all things considered…they did a good job.
A change in the storyline
In the original adaptation, Sandy was called Sandy Dumbrowski and was an all-American girl. But when they cast Olivia Newton-John, they had to change the storyline to accommodate for Newton-John’s Australian roots. They also had to write two new songs for the movie.
A conspiracy theory
Fans like to overthink things and come up with conspiracy theories surrounding the movie. Many have claimed that Sandy drowned on the beach and that the rest of the movie is her having a near-death hallucination. When she flies in the car at the end of the movie, that is her ascending to heaven. Riiiiight…
We all know Frenchy as the ditzy, yet inexperienced Pink Lady who didn’t quite know where she was going in her life. And it seems the real life Frenchy, Didi Conn was quite similar. Before her audition, she hid under the desk of a security guard to sneak in a quick peek at the script before she went into the audition room.
Patty Simcox was always the outcast in the movie. She was the class president, and the snooty teacher-pet that the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds looked to avoid. And according to Didi Conn, she was also an outsider on set. She says that most of the cast would just ignore her and make fun of her. Oh, how mean…
The Bubble Gum
You couldn’t shoot a movie set in the ‘50s and not have them chew gum. And they rocked up some pretty hefty figures. All in all, the cast chewed up to 5,000 pieces of chewing gum each day, which amounted to over 100,000 pieces of hum throughout the whole movie. That’s a lot of gum…
The Signature Move
John Travolta started filming for Grease just a couple of weeks after Saturday Night Fever. And he points in the air in both of these movies. It had become his signature move and tried to fit it into all of his movies.
An extra scene
If you’ve ever wondered what Kenickie and Rizzo fight about in the Frosty Palace that warrants him having a milkshake thrown over him…there was an answer. But it was cut out. A fight scene was filmed for the movie, but it was cut out because the producers thought it was a bit too intense for the movie, and even called it a ‘Martin Scorsese scene.’
Recently, Olivia Newton-John has spoken about an original Grease reunion. This will be unlike the sequels to the movie and will feature all of the original cast, songs, and sets. Take a look at what she’s said here: Olivia Newton-John Says a Reunion May Be Back on the Cards Soon