Grease is one of the biggest movie musicals of all time. Sure, the nostalgic 1978 movie is a quotable singalong classic and also slumber party favorite the made man Travolta and Olivia Newton-John into superstars, yet it"s likewise a juggernaut of the teenager movie genre, appropriate up there through Clueless, Mean Girls, and Ferris Bueller"s job Of. Like any great teen flick, the plot that Grease is as necessary low-stakes and also narrow in reach, concerning the fleeting social lives of less than a dozen teenagers, most of lock members the the T-Birds and also the Pink Ladies, that benignly power over Rydell High in the 1958–59 college year and also do stuff choose go come drive-in movies, drink ice cream cream sodas, and also dance.

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Seeing together how personalities break into song and also fly a vehicle into the sky, Grease isn"t the most realistic movie, a concept that extends come its cast. Nobody in this column of teenager cinema was in reality of high-school age when the movie was shot end the course of 1977. Here"s just how old the teenagers of Grease in reality were as soon as they made the movie.


While Olivia Newton-John was already well-known prior to her starring role in Grease, man Travolta was more than likely the biggest box office attract in the movie, specifically as far as his hordes that young fans — the target market — were concerned. From 1975 on, the male who would go on come play Danny Zuko, became one of the best teen stars about from his performance together the Danny Zuko-like Vinnie Barbarino, a dopey yet tough high institution student ~ above the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.

In 1977, Travolta"s film acting career took off with Saturday Night Fever, where he played another likable negative boy, a disco-dancing, twenty-something new Yorker called Tony Manero. By the time Travolta had actually returned to once again playing a high college miscreant, this time in Grease, he"d currently had his very first Academy award nomination (for Fever) under his belt. The music confirmed the people that Travolta can act, dance, and sing (although he"d proven that a little with his 1976 top-10 struggle "Let she In"). And Travolta did it all at the tender period of 23.


Grease was the top-grossing film of 1978, and also as such, it raised the visibility and also star strength of numerous of its cast members. Olivia Newton-John, however, was currently extremely famous. Of course, she portrayal sweet and naive Sandy Olsson, who creates a soft romance with Danny Zuko (John Travolta) end the food of numerous summer nights, cemented her together a screen legend. However her revolution into a leather queen at the finish of the film was even much more inexplicable offered her wholesome picture in the music world. 

When Newton-John landed the duty in Grease — rewritten for her, so that the character moved to Rydell indigenous Australia, not one more American location — she was currently a popular music star. She"d scored ripe #1 hits on the adult modern-day chart stretching ago to 1971, including "I honestly Love You" and also "Have You never ever Been Mellow." Newton-John only looked young once she played Sandy, a duty she landed for her vocal skills and marketability, and she had barely plot before, only in the Australian musicals Toomorrow and Funny Things occur Down Under. She to be 29 year old once she played high-school an elderly Sandy in Grease.


Grease"s totality storyline featuring an additional female protagonist Betty Rizzo, or just Rizzo, leader that the Pink Ladies, is provocative for both the film"s 1950s setting and 1978 release. Rizzo refuses come play right into society"s expectation the young women stay chaste and innocent, preferring rather to seek out physical gratification and also being unashamed around it. (Her big solo number, "There room Worse points I have the right to Do," is all around that.) She winds up enduring a pregnant scare, yet it"s all fine by the finish of the movie.

Perhaps the edginess of Rizzo"s arc — or the repercussion she may face because of it, in the kind of teenage pregnancy "out of wedlock" as it would be placed in the "50s — simply may never have actually seemed every that significant to some viewers, due to the fact that actor Stockard Channing was so clearly not a teenager. In fact, follow to Vanity Fair, Channing, at 33 year old, "was the oldest of the major actors cast" when Grease went before cameras in 1977. The made she almost dual that of her character, a high school senior assumed to it is in 17 or 18. Grease takes place in 1959, and Channing carried real-life experience to the part, seeing as how she in reality was still in high college at the time. 


Portraying Kenickie in Grease, the Rizzo-loving and most outwardly criminal and nefarious of the as whole harmless T-Bird gang, to be the breakout movie duty for gibbs Jeff Conaway. To the point, he"d landed tiny roles top top Happy Days and The mary Tyler Moore Show, and also movies including The Eagle has actually Landed and Pete"s Dragon. Grease just happened to be the perfect transitionary role for Conaway, a jar and accomplished stage actor. That was actually a cast member in the original Broadway stage production of Grease in the early "70s, serving as understudy and eventually taking on the lead duty of Danny Zuko.

The film version of Grease fight theaters in 1978, just a pair of months prior to the debut of the sitcom Taxi, wherein Conaway would certainly star as wannabe actor Bobby Wheeler for three seasons before leaving the present in find of better opportunities. Conaway typically worked in movies and TV right into the 2010s while additionally struggling through substance abuse problems — he passed away at period 60 in 2011. Grease is most likely the project for which Conaway will certainly be many fondly remembered, by both fans and also his castmates. In fact, Stockard Channing also told Watch What wake up Live the Conaway was "the horniest" that the fake teens. " trailer would be rocking at lunch time," she recalled. Taking right into account Los Angeles Magazine"s shooting timeline because that the film together "between June and also September that 1977," and with Conaway"s date of birth being Oct. 5, 1950, as soon as he played teenage sort-of-hoodlum Kenickie, that was currently 26 years old.


The central plot the Grease — the will-they-or-won"t-they coupling of Sandy and also Danny — is a complicated one and also takes whole school year to resolve. A big part the why Danny messes it up is due to the fact that he pays too much attention to the opinions that his friends, a bunch of stunner goof-offs who think they"re a gang because they contact themselves the "T-Birds" and wear animal leather jackets. Chief among this team is Antony DelFuego, primarily recognized as Doody, a man who wields a squirt guns and likes come look increase girls" skirts. In the 1978 film of Grease, he"s illustrated by gibbs Barry Pearl, a man who has done a most Grease. His an initial taste come via the national touring manufacturing of the Broadway version — which aided spread the show"s popularity and built attention in the film. In that iteration, Pearl play a various T-Bird, Sonny. In 2016, that was cast in a cameo role in Fox"s Grease Live television event as Stan Weaver, agent because that dance TV present host Vince Fontaine. But Pearl"s most famed Grease is the 1978 big-screen movie version, the course. He"d landed little roles top top a grasp of TV shows and films before showing up as teenager Doody in ~ the ripe old age of 27.

Sonny (real name: martin LaTierri) think he"s poor to the bone because he"s component of the T-Birds, the self-proclaimed roughest that the stormy at Rydell High School. He does spike the beat at the huge dance-off, and claims to not experience fools... Except for as soon as he"s actually inserted into a instance involving confrontation and also he sheepishly backs down, together as once he"s stared under by Rydell"s major McGee. Gibbs Michael Tucci lugged a realistically unsure, brash, and boyish energy to the role.

Tucci showed up occasionally in films after Grease, including roles as Chico Marx in the Groucho Marx biopic Groucho, and as the dad of Melissa McCarthy"s personality in The Heat, but he built up an considerable resume the appearances top top 1980s and also 1990s television. Because that example, he was the location character"s neurotic best friend Pete ~ above It"s Garry Shandling"s Show and also played hospital administrator Norman Briggs ~ above Diagnosis Murder. Tucci doesn"t plot as lot as he used to, together he"s in the retirement zone of his seventies, which method that as soon as he co-starred in Grease, he was 31 years old.

Putzie is one of T-Birds leader Danny Zuko"s the next friends and also compatriots — he"s the blond hair one through the as necessary retro ducktail haircut. He"s a bit of an oddball, together his large moments room hitting Kenickie in the head with a auto door and also somehow romancing jan after accidentally labeling her a "cheap date" at the Frosty Palace. (He just meant that their bill was inexpensive; she invites him to her residence for homemade pie, and they presumably lived happily ever after.)

Prior to depicting Putzie in Grease, a role not in the initial Broadway show and also created simply for the movie, gibbs Kelly Ward was finest known because that his supporting duty in The boy in the Plastic Bubble, a struggle made-for-TV movie starring his future Grease cohort john Travolta. Ward is forever young top top film. In 1983, just five years after ~ the release of Grease, Ward quit live-action acting (he likewise appeared in illustration of M*A*S*H, The Waltons, and Magnum, P.I.) in favor of voiceover and behind-the-scenes work. Ward"s most prominent film role of Putzie in Grease arrived once he was 20 years old. 

Unlike her friends and also fellow Pink ladies gang members, Francesca Facciano aka Frenchy isn"t too pertained to with the overdramatic machinations and also fallouts the the romantic entanglements of Rydell High"s senior class. She has actually bigger dreams in mind, so ready to obtain on through her life, complying with her dreams, and also earning a living, that she drops out of Rydell a few before graduation in order to enroll in beauty beauty school and become a hairdresser. ~ dying her hair blond and also then coincidentally pink (briefly transforming her into, fairly literally, a Pink Lady), she realizes that she need to turn in she teasing comb and also go earlier to high school. That motivation comes indigenous "Beauty institution Dropout," one of Grease"s main and many memorable manufacturing numbers, featuring "50s star Frankie Avalon together "Teen Angel," transporting harsh advice to a star-struck Frenchy.

Before illustrating 1950s teen Frenchy in Grease, actor Didi Conn had actually a little preparation, illustrating 1950s inhabitant Joyce in an episode of Happy Days. Beyond that, she was ideal known because that inexplicably disappearing in Grease 2, adhered to by her regular role on the short-lived sitcom The Practice, as soon as Conn donned the pink wig come play Frenchy in Grease, she turn 26 year old during production of the film. 

One human being from the smash hit at an early stage 1970s Broadway operation of Grease who reprised the duty they played on stage for the 1978 movie version: Jamie Donnelly, who aided originate the function of Jan, the Pink Ladies" comic relief. She comedic stylings contained singing along with, and imitating, a vintage TV commercial during a sleepover. She other notable character properties is that she harbored an amusing fixation with junk food. Past Grease, Donnelly made various other Broadway history, starring as Magenta and also other roles in the original 1975 stage manufacturing of The Rocky horror Show.

The Grease film represented Donnelly"s large break into display acting, however the performer walked away. After ~ the film, she began a theater in Kentucky and also then ended up being a Los Angeles-based exhilaration coach, according to People. As soon as Grease started filming in 1977, Donnelly had to " she prematurely gray hair" for this reason she"d look prefer a high school kid. It"s humorous and also ironic that Jan, the most outwardly and also immature that the Pink Ladies, was illustrated by one of the earliest actors in the cast — Donnelly had actually just gone into her 30s.

While the various other Pink women of Grease spend most of the film obsessing end teenage boys much more or much less their own ages, Marty would much rather go after full-grown males — i m sorry all falls in line v her personality wanting come appear much more grown-up and much more mature than her teenage period would indicate. Throughout the taping of the TV dance display where chaos breaks out and relationships split vast open for those roughly her, Marty bides her time and flirts greatly with the show"s host, Vince fontaine (portrayed by actual 1950s celebrity Edd "Kookie" Byrnes). She suggestively sucks on a lollipop and tells the her surname is Marty Maraschino, "like the cherry." All the discomfort that a teen and also an adult guy circling each other is counter a tiny by the fact that Dinah Manoff, the actress that played Marty, was safely ensconced in the period of majority. When Manoff filmed she scenes for Grease in 1977, she was a family member newcomer to Hollywood, playing a couple of functions in made-for-TV movies and guest-star parts on Welcome Back, Kotter (with Grease"s john Travolta) and Family (featuring she future Empty Nest castmate Kristy McNichol). Grease to be Manoff"s an initial feature movie role, and also she was 21 year old when she secured the role.

Charlene DiGregorio doesn"t have all the much display time in the film variation of Grease, but her appearance is both memorable and vital to the plot. The character is much far better known together "Cha-Cha," a recommendation to both her an initial name and how she"s the self-proclaimed "best dancer at St. Bernadette"s," back she it s okay to attend the large dance TV show taping in ~ Rydell High. Kenickie brings her together his date to do Rizzo, his one and also only and with who he"s on the outs, jealous. She additionally backs increase her cases of being a really great dancer, reflecting off and showing up many of the main characters, bringing Broadway-quality chops to the big gym floor run numbers. She to be precociously talented and self-assured, because that a high school, which likely came ~ above account of just how the actress who played Cha-Cha to be 29 years old at the moment of filming.

Cha-Cha was the most famous role on the resume of actress Annette Charles, who before Grease had actually landed guest-star duties on "70s TV shows like Emergency! and also Barnaby Jones. Other than for a small function in the 2009 B-movie Transylmania, Charles walked away from display screen acting in 1987. The gibbs passed away from cancer in 2011 at period 63.

Movies collection in the 1950s didn"t just solidify the enduring cultural cliches that "greaser" and also "poodle-skirt-wearing goody-goody," it also helped codify what a nerd the end to look, act, and sound favor on screen. Rydell High"s king nerd Eugene Felsnic is the prototypical and also definitive nerd in many ways — he"s naive, studious, bullied, lacks self-awareness, put on glasses, and also talks in a nasally voice. In various other words, he possesses all the hallmarks that nerds in "80s movies and also beyond, and many time those roles were illustrated by the same male who play Eugene in Grease. Eddie Deezen play by-the-books young nerds in WarGames, Zapped!, Grease 2, and The Polar Express, amongst others.

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Grease struggle movie theaters in 1978, which to be a breakthrough year for Deezen. That starred in two various other movies the year, the low-budget Lasterblast (made famed when the aired top top Mystery science Theater 3000) and the cult fight Beatles-themed I Wanna organize Your Hand. When he play high school-age dweeb Eugene in Grease, Deezen was barely older, just 20 years old at the moment of the film, and also one the the youngest members of the key cast.