Happy Birthday, Grease! 37 Fun Facts About Rydell High

first_imgSandy, Danny and the Rydell High gang are turning 37 today! The smash-hit movie Grease was released June 16, 1978, starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing and Jeff Conaway as the coolest high schoolers in history. Filmed on a shoestring budget, the movie adapted from the hit Broadway musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey went on to become the highest-grossing movie musical ever. Isn’t it the most, to say the least? Check out these 37 automatic, systematic, hydromatic facts all about our pals at Rydell High.1. The 1978 film was based on the 1972 Broadway musical of the same name, which originally ran for 3,388 performances and has since been revived twice.2. Several changes were made for the big-screen adaptation—the “Burger Palace Boys,” as the greasers were called in the Broadway show, were changed to the much catchier “T-Birds” in the movie.3. Originally, producers had the idea to make Grease an animated movie—they settled on a live-action film with animated opening credits instead.4. Four Grease film stars also appeared in the Broadway production: John Travolta (Doody on Broadway and Danny in the movie), Jeff Conaway (Danny on Broadway and Kenickie in the movie), Barry Pearl (Sonny on Broadway and Doody in the movie) and Jamie Donnelly (Jan on Broadway and in the movie).5. The majority of the cast hadn’t seen the inside of a high school in quite a while: John Travolta was 23 at the time of filming, Olivia Newton-John was 28 and Stockard Channing was 33.6. Frankie Valli sang the film’s title song “Grease,” which plays during the opening credits.7. Henry Winkler was considered for the part of Danny but he turned it down because he didn’t want to be typecast after starring on Happy Days.8. Susan Dey (The Partridge Family) and Deborah Raffin (7th Heaven) were both considered for the role of Sandy.9. John Travolta was initially star struck by singer Olivia Newton-John—he went to her house to convince her to co-star in the movie and was very impressed that she had a pool.10. To capitalize on Olivia Newton-John’s popularity, the film’s creators opted to keep her Australian accent and change Sandy’s last name from Dumbrowski to Olsen.11. Elvis was originally offered the role of Teen Angel, but he turned it down. It was played by Frankie Avalon in the movie.12. Another Elvis connection: In the play, “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” had a reference to Sal Mineo, but he was murdered in 1976, so the reference was changed to Elvis for the film. Elvis died on August 16, 1977, the same day the scene was filmed.13. Dinah Manoff, who played Marty, couldn’t dance, so she was conveniently missing from most of the dance scenes.14. Lucie Arnaz was the studio’s original choice for Rizzo, but her mother Lucille Ball refused to let her do a screen test.15. Gerald Ford’s son Steven was initially cast as Sandy’s jock boyfriend Tom, but even though the part had no lines, he decided he was too nervous. The role went to Lorenzo Lamas instead.16. During the movie’s shoot, the cast reportedly chewed 100,000 pieces of bubble gum.17. “You’re the One that I Want” was filmed at a traveling carnival that was only in town for the day. Portions of the carnival had to be re-created later for close-up shots.18. The hickeys on Rizzo’s neck in the diner scene were authentic, given to Stockard Channing by Jeff Conaway, who played Kenickie. Talk about method acting!19. The song “Greased Lighting” was originally supposed to be sung by Jeff Conaway, but John Travolta convinced producers to let him sing it instead.20. In Mexico and Venezuela, Grease was released under the name Vaselina.21. John Travolta was disappointed when the last shot of the song “Sandy” ended with a cartoon hot dog jumping into a bun. “He wanted a close-up [on him],” director Robert Kleiser told The New York Post. “But that hot dog was fantastic. I didn’t want to shoot the close-up because I loved the hot dog. That was a battle, but I won.”22. The movie soundtrack had two number-one singles: “Grease” and “You’re the One That I Want.”23. Although he was taller than John Travolta, Jeff Conaway slouched when he was filmed with the star so he would appear taller.24. Most of the dancers had character names like Sauce, Trix, Cee Cee, Woppo and Bubba, even though they were never used in the movie.25. It was 116 degrees during the filming of the Rydell prom scene, which took two weeks to film in downtown Los Angeles. Several extras were treated for heat-related illnesses.26. In the final carnival scene, Eddie Deezen, who played Eugene, was filmed on a spinning ride. Afterwards, he got sick and threw up in the middle of the carnival lot.27. Annette Charles (Cha Cha), who had been in the hospital undergoing tests for pain, checked herself out to film the drag race scene. That night, she was rushed into surgery for an ectopic pregnancy.28. Sandy’s pants in “You’re the One That I Want” really belonged to Olivia Newton-John—they were 25 years old and she had to be sewn into them when her zipper broke.29. The producers had hoped for a product placement deal with Coke, but it fell through. There are several shots of Coca-Cola products and signs in the scenes taking place in the Frosty Palace that have been blurred out or digitally removed.30. After the success of the movie, Paramount had plans for a Grease franchise, featuring three more movies and a TV series. But when Grease 2 flopped in 1982, these plans were put on hold.31. The writers of Grease were inspired to write the song “Beauty School Dropout” after seeing a news story about a teenage murderer who had recently dropped out of beauty school.32. Kleiser originally wanted to direct the song “It’s Raining on Prom Night” as a Singin’ in the Rain-esque sequence with Sandy, but that was vetoed in favor of a new ballad, “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”33. The actors behaved almost like real high-school students on set. “We were so bad,” Susan Buckner, who played Patty Simcox, told People. “Almost everybody would come in two, three hours late. They had to bring us all in and give us a lecture.”34. Jamie Donnelly had prematurely grey hair, so she had to dye it black to play Jan.35. Jeff Conway (Kenickie), later married Rona Newton-John, Olivia’s sister.36. Grease 2 had double the budget ($13 million) of the original film but only earned $15 million at the box office.37. Grease only cost $6 million to make, but has taken in $400 million internationally to date, making it the highest-grossing movie musical of all time. View Commentslast_img

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