Electrifying Behind-the-Scenes Facts About Grease
We've got chills — they're multiplying! Grease has become one of Hollywood’s most iconic films of all time since its release in 1978. You can watch the movie over and over again until you feel like you know it inside and out and still love every minute of it.
However, there are some unbelievable details about the film that you probably don’t know. Don’t believe it? Take a look at these electrifying behind-the-scenes facts about Grease.
Grease Left Superman in the Dust
In 1978, the movie Grease quickly soared to the top of the box office. The hit musical broke records and went on to become an international sensation. Audiences couldn't stop talking about the movie, the catchy songs and its cheerful story.
A Super Gross Race
One of the most exciting scenes in the film is the "Thunder Road Race" between Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Leo Balmudo (Dennis Cleveland Stewart). As Zuko took the wheel of the Greased Lightnin’ car, the T-birds and his friends cheered him on.
The James Dean Look-a-Like
Danny's trademark is the Rydell High T-Bird jacket on top of a white T-shirt and black pants. However, did you notice his attire at the beginning of the movie? It was a little different from his usual black outfit.
American Girl to Australian Girl
Before casting calls and auditions, producers imagined Sandy as an American girl with the last name Dumbrowski. However, Australian actor Olivia Newton-John stole the casting director's heart. In response, Sandy became an Australian transfer student to match the actor’s background.
Imagine a Different Danny Zuko
For many fans, it's hard to imagine anyone else other than John Travolta playing Danny Zuko, but Grease was actually a popular Broadway production before it was even adapted into a film. In the musical, Travolta didn’t play the leading man.
The T-Birds Almost Didn’t Happen
The big-screen adaptation took a long time brainstorming the name of Danny Zuko and his group of boys. For many Grease fans, it's hard to picture anything else besides T-birds covering their iconic leather jackets. However, in the original musical, the crew had a different name.
Critics Were Big Haters
People of all ages from all over the world fell in love with Grease. However, there was a group of folks who didn't feel the same way. In fact, some critics initially trashed and dismissed the film in the '70s.
The Famous Songs That Weren’t in the Original
Everything that you saw in the movie didn't come from the original musical. Some elements were added to make the film an international phenomenon (and it worked). For instance, several songs that we can't stop singing were created just for the film.
Gum on Gum on Gum
Chewing gum isn't out of the ordinary. You may have noticed that the Pink Ladies often had bubble gum in their mouths. However, it's reported that almost every scene had someone chomping on the chewy delight. Sounds like a lot of gum, right?
One Cast Member Hated the Finale Song
Which song often comes to mind when you think about Grease? Many fans would say the finale song — "You’re the One That I Want." It's not only one of the most beloved songs of the film, but it's also a top seller.
Susan Buckner Was Just Like Her Character
The film brought many of the actors close and made them feel like a family. The cast related very well to their characters too. This was also the case for Susan Buckner, who portrayed head cheerleader, Patty Simcox.
Broke Records for Years
Despite the grumbling from some critics, it’s easy to see that Grease was a roaring success that crushed its competition (even a famous superhero movie). The film reigned as the highest-grossing live-action musical until Les Misérables took the top spot in 2012.
The Real Milkshake Scene
Remember that strawberry milkshake scene? Rizzo, Frenchy and Kenickie are sitting in the diner, and Rizzo and Kenickie get into an intense argument. In the end, she yells, "Finish this," and throws the milkshake at his face, leaving Kenickie covered in pink slush.
Danny Zuko Wasn’t Supposed to be in One Song
Another memorable sequence from the film is the "Greased Lightnin’" number. Kenickie and the boys are upgrading the famous car and then break out into a song about hitting on women. "Greased Lightnin’" originally belonged to Kenickie.
The King of Rock and Roll Was Offered a Role
Hold the phone! The King of Rock and Roll almost starred in Grease? It's true. The role of Teen Angel was originally offered to the one and only Elvis Presley, but he rejected the part. It all worked out anyway.
Jeff Conaway’s Big Fat On-Set Crush
Kenickie and Rizzo were end game in the film. Despite having a rough relationship, the two stayed together. Offscreen, Jeff Conaway admitted he had a fling with another actor from the film, but he had a soft spot for Grease's leading lady, Olivia Newton-John.
The Overwhelming School Dance Scene
One of the most electrifying scenes of the entire film is Rydell High's school dance. Audiences loved the upbeat moment, but for the cast and crew, the experience was miserable to shoot. It took a week to film the iconic dance scene.
One Famous Band Was Expected to Perform
The "Greased Lightnin'" scene resulted in some tension on set. However, Danny, Kenickie and the gang weren't even supposed to perform that song. The director, Randal Kleiser, initially wanted a professional band to take over the number instead of the boys.
Olivia Newton-John's Pants Were Excessively Tight
When Sandy transformed into a bad girl, she wore that iconic black outfit. The black Lycra pants actually belonged to Olivia Newton-John. The 25-year-old pants were just sitting in her closet. However, the zipper broke when she put them on.
Blurred Out Coca-Cola Signs
Travolta Had to Convince Newton-John to Take the Part
Grease is one of the most successful musical films of all time. However, it took a lot of work to get there. In fact, Olivia Newton-John didn't want to be a part of the movie initially. She thought the film wasn't going to be good.
Jeff Conaway Got Injured
The "Greased Lightnin’" number was full of great dancing and singing. However, behind-the-scenes, it was a different story. Jeff Conaway actually experienced some bad luck while filming it. During the exciting scene, Conaway was hopping and rocking on top of the car.
The Last Minute Song That Became a Hit
After Grease finished filming and went into editing, producers thought something was missing — another song. They believed Sandy needed a heartfelt ballad, so "Hopelessly Devoted to You" was written at the last minute. Producers called Olivia Newton-John to come back and perform the song.
Age Problems with the Main Cast
One of the biggest problems production faced was that the main cast was too old for their roles. Grease was supposed to be a movie about teenagers in high school, but Travolta and the gang were already in their 20s and 30s.
Travolta’s Line Mishap Made It into the Film
Sometimes, lines are hard to remember. Other times, it's easy to get tongue-tied. Travolta had trouble getting his lines right for a moment on set. He repeatedly said, "heap lap trials" instead of "heat lap trials." The film crew corrected him multiple times.
Dina Manoff (Marty) Couldn’t Dance
The iconic film is known for its insane dance moves and music. It seemed like everyone in the cast was a talented dancer. However, that's far from true, and Grease hid it well. Dina Manoff, who portrayed Pink Lady Marty Maraschino, said she didn't know how to bust a move.
Lucille Ball’s Daughter Was Selected for Rizzo
It seems impossible to imagine anyone else other than Stockard Channing playing Rizzo. Fans loved her performance. However, Channing wasn't the studio's first pick. Initially, they wanted Lucie Arnaz, Lucille Ball’s daughter, to portray the leader of the Pink Ladies.
The Finale Song Was Filmed at a Real Traveling Circus
"You’re the One that I Want" was an exciting scene with all types of carnival rides and games in the background. However, the film crew didn't set up the scenery themselves. It was a real carnival that traveled into town that day.
Cha Cha’s Health
Do you remember Danny’s dance partner at the Rydell Prom? The character's name is Cha Cha, who was portrayed by talented actress Annette Charles. She also appeared in the "Thunder Road drag race" scene for a really quick moment.
Andy Warhol and an Adult Film Star Were Almost Cast
Producer Allen Carr thought Andy Warhol would make a great art teacher in the film. However, one studio executive told him, "We’ll give you everything you want, but I will not have that man in my movie." Carr interpreted it as a personal vendetta.
Grease Was Almost an Animated Movie
The live-action musical that we all love and know almost didn't happen. Producers Steve Krantz and Ralph Bakshi were the original rights holders of the film. They planned to create an animated musical version of Grease. However, life had other plans.