Impressive And Hilarious Facts About The Hit Film ‘Grease’

Published on 02/27/2017
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No one can deny the impact the musical Grease set for future generations, especially in the world of musicals. We also can’t count the number of times we have watched this iconic film, because of our love for the film and the actors, we decided to pull together the most ridiculous facts you (probably) didn’t know. Check it out!

Olivia Newton-John was reluctant to work on the film

Turns out that Olivia Newton-John was hesitant to star in the film. She actually demanded a screen test with John Travolta to make sure that there was, in fact, chemistry between the two leads.

Olivia Newton John Was Reluctant To Work On The Film

Olivia Newton John Was Reluctant To Work On The Film

John Travolta had song demands

John Travolta said he would take on the role of Danny only IF he was allowed to sing ‘Greased Lighting.” They agreed and took the song away from Kenickie.

John Travolta Had Song Demands

John Travolta Had Song Demands

Olivia Newton-John had to be sewn into her costume

The lovely Olivia Newton-John actually had to be sewn into her pants every morning on set. We know that it sounds crazy considering how tiny she is but its true! Olivia had to be extremely careful about what she ate and how she moved.

Olivia Newton John Had To Be Sewn Into Her Costume

Olivia Newton John Had To Be Sewn Into Her Costume

The film was almost animated

What do you think, would an animated Grease film been as successful? It’s hard to tell, while we’re sure it probably wouldn’t have, we’re glad that producers changed their minds. Only the intro of the film was animated.

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The film was almost animated

Burger Palace Boys?

You can thank the 1972 Broadway musical, as it served as the inspiration for the 1978 film. By inspiration we mean, the film was based on the musical. The original Broadway musical also featured the gang lead by Travolta as the ‘Burger Palace Boys’. However in the film, their name was changed to ‘The T-Birds’. Much better!

Burger Palace Boys

Burger Palace Boys?

Henry Winkler turned down the film

That’s right, the Fonz himself was offered a part, well THE part really as Henry Winkler shot down playing the part of Danny Zuko. Winkler believed the role of Zuko was too close to his own Fonzie character and he didn’t want to be classified as “that” type of actor.

Henry Winkler Turned Down The Film

Henry Winkler Turned Down The Film

Marty couldn’t dance

If you play close attention, you’ll notice that actress Dinah Manoff is missing from just about every single dance scene in the film. Apparently she couldn’t dance so she remained hidden every time a dance number was required.

Marty Couldn't Dance

Marty Couldn’t Dance

Not a single cast member was high school age

I mean, are you actually surprised about this fact? It doesn’t take a mesothelioma attorney to figure out that this is pretty normal. John Travolta was the youngest actor to star in the film at age 23.

Not A Single Cast Member Was High School Age

Not A Single Cast Member Was High School Age

Elvis almost joined the party

We’re just trying to picture what a film would have looked like with a prime John Travolta and the iconic Elvis Presley. Because once upon a time, the King was offered an unknown part in the film!

Elvis Almost Joined The Party

Elvis Almost Joined The Party

Olivia’s accent was a game changer

Film producers ~adored~ Olivia Newton John’s accent so much, that they actually demanded changes. They went to the writers and forced them to change the story to keep Olivia’s Australian roots.

Olivia's Accent Was A Game Changer

Olivia’s Accent Was A Game Changer

Some serious Broadway crossover!

Once Grease had crushed the box office, many believed that it was time to revive the original Broadway play. Stars like John Travolta, Barry Pearl, Jeff Conaway, and Jamie Donnelly all headed over to Broadway as a result.

Some Serious Broadway Crossover!

Some Serious Broadway Crossover!

‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ came in post

When the principal filming of the film wrapped up, the producers decided that Olivia Newton-John needed her own big song. Thus the memorable, raw ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ song was written and filmed in pick up shots. Newton-John would even go on to land an Academy Award nomination for that very performance.

'Hopelessly Devoted To You' Came In Post

‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ Came In Post

The film had a HUGE bubble gum budget

That’s right, we’re talking about gum! Back then, bubble gum was just all the rage. Its reported that the cast chewed over 100,000 pieces of gum during filming. That’s just crazy.

The Film Had A HUGE Bubble Gum Budget

The Film Had A HUGE Bubble Gum Budget

Andy Warhol almost starred in the film

The one and Andy Warhol was supposed to play an art teacher in the film. However Warhol was immediately rejected after a studio exec said that he wouldn’t have “that man” in his film.

Andy Warhol Almost Starred In The Film

Andy Warhol Almost Starred In The Film

Grease dominated the box office

A musical film dominating the box office was unheard of back then but now its pretty much the norm. In fact, Grease was the highest grossing film of 1978. It beat out iconic films such as Animal House, Jaws 2, and Superman.

Grease Dominated The Box Office

Grease Dominated The Box Office

Lorenzo Lamas took his part from a President’s son

Steven Ford, who is the son of former President Gerald Ford, was supposed to play Sandy’s jocky-head boyfriend in the film but he got too nervous and backed out. Therefore, Lomas steopped in and took the part.

Lorenzo

Lorenzo Lamas took his part from a President’s son

‘Beauty School Dropout’ had dark origins

The track, ‘Beauty School Dropout’, was actually written after a writer read a story about a teenager who had killed herself after dropping out of beauty school.

'Beauty School Dropout' Had Dark Origins

‘Beauty School Dropout’ Had Dark Origins

The film was released with different names

When you think of the era the musical was set in, the title Grease makes perfect sense. However when it was released in Venezuela and Mexico, the title was changed to Vaselina. Which makes no sense.

The Film Was Released With Different Names

The Film Was Released With Different Names

All of the dancers were named

Most of the characters that you see in the film that are just in the background, filling up space, were named. In the credits, the production team named every single dancer, such as Woppo, Bubba, Cee Cee, and Sauce.

All Of The Dancers Were Named

All Of The Dancers Were Named

Heap Lap Trials

Travolta had tons of trouble saying the phrase ‘heat lap trials’ that the film makers actually had to keep in Travolta’s flub. It came out that an ex girlfriend of his had passed away during shooting of that sequence so he was incredibly distracted and heartbroken.

Heap Lap Trials

Heap Lap Trials

Coke pulled advertising

When the producers were working on marketing deals for the film, they spoke with Coca Cola who were on board at the time. However a product placement deal fell through forcing the team to rush and blur out as many shots featuring Coca Cola.

Coke Pulled Advertising

Coke Pulled Advertising

A Grease empire was in the works

We’ve already told you that Grease dominated the box office so it isn’t surprising that there were plans to make a massive empire out of the series. The producers had hoped to release three additional films, along with a TV series. But after Grease 2 flopped, that dream quickly fizzled out.

A Grease Empire Was In The Works

A Grease Empire Was In The Works

George Lucas was instrumental in the re-release of Grease

Turns out that George Lucas was a massive fan of the film. So when it was time for a re-release, George Lucas stepped in and helped get Paramount on board. Lucas said t, “Every nine year old he knew watched a VHS copy of Grease every day,” back when it was released.

George Lucas Was Instrumental In The Re Release Of Grease

George Lucas Was Instrumental In The Re Release Of Grease

The budget turnaround for Grease is insane

Grease was filmed on a rather small budget of just around $6 million dollars. However, despite this tiny sum, the film earned more than $400 million worldwide! Just crazy.

The Budget Turnaround For Grease Is Insane

The Budget Turnaround For Grease Is Insane

It was 116 degrees during the filming of the Rydell prom scene

Taking around two weeks to film. this scene was shot in sunny Los Angeles, California. Because of the drastic heat temperature, there were several extras that needed to be treated for heat-related illnesses.

Rydell Prom Scene

Rydell Prom Scene

In “Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee” the producers changed the reference and it has quite a freaky coincidence.

The song had a reference to Sal Mineo, in the stage play. Sal Mineo was murdered in 1976. In reference to Elvis Presley, who died the same day the scene was filmed (August 16,1977), they changed the lyric to “Elvis, Elvis, let me be! Keep that pelvis far from me!” The day was August 16, 1977.

Sandra Dee

Sandra Dee

There’s a small tribute to The Three Stooges

Well, who else could reference the Three Stooges better then the three boys who play Doody (Barry Pearl), Sonny (Michael Tucci), and Putzie (Kelly Ward). The trio went to Randal Kleiser, the director, with their idea, which got approved for the film during the bonfire scene.

3 Stooges

THe Three Stooges

All of the actors/actresses were too old for high school

John Travolta was 23, Jeff Conaway was 26, and Stockard Channing was 33. Lorenzo Lamas (Tom) and Dinah Manoff (Marty), who were both 19, were the only two closest to the actual age of a high school student.

Too Old For High School

Too Old For High School

The “Hickey from Kenickie” was in fact 100% real

Stockard Channing (Rizzo), said in an interview that it was Jeff Conaway (Kenickie) who insisted on applying the hickeys himself.

Hickey From Kenickie

Hickey From Kenickie

Danny Zuko’s nod to James Dean

Danny’s blue wind-breaker, which we see in the opening beach scene, is said to be a nod to James Dean. James wore a red wind-breaker in Rebel Without A Cause(1955).

Blue Wind Breaker

Danny’s Blue Wind Breaker

Stockard Channing can thank Lucille Ball for landing the role of Rizzo

Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball, was not considered for the part of Rizzo due to Lucille Ball’s call, “I used to own that studio; my daughter’s not doing a screen test!” But, Lucille Ball actually did own Desilu Productions, which was eventually bought by Paramount Studios.

Lucille Ball & Lucie Arnaz

Lucille Ball & Lucie Arnaz

Cast members get sick from the drag race scene

The nail-biting (fan favorite) drag race scene was filmed near a bridge with water, capturing the feel and intensity of the race. While the location seemed to be quite ideal, the water under the bridge was not ideal at all. The inactive water contained hazardous filth, which caused some of the cast members to become ill.

Drag Race Scene

Drag race scene

The first time Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta met was at the actresses house

As Olivia’s number one supporter and fan, John Travolta, who had not reached a great deal of fame yet, was genuinely star struck when he met her for the first time. I’m pretty sure that after shooting “You’re the One That I Want,” Travolta’s fan crush got even bigger.

Olivia Newton John & John Trovolta

Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta

Jeff Conaway injured his back during the filming of “Greased Lightning”

As if the back injury wasn’t painful enough, this unfortunate mishap sadly led to a downward path for Conaway, including abuse with prescription medications. This information was publicized only after Conaway’s appearance on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.

Greased Lightning

Greased Lightning

John Travolta had to talk Olivia into filming “You’re the One That I Want.”

And wow, we’re so happy that he did! What’s Greasewithout the infamous carnival scene and fan favorite song? During the Merv Griffin Show, Olivia admitted that she was quite terrified to film this song. I guess it would be a little scary to dance your way through a moving fun house in tight black leather pants.

You're The One That I Want

“You’re The One That I Want”

Grease takes place in 1958

This was 20 years before the film’s actual release date, which was June 1, 1978 (U.S).

20 Years Earlier

Film took place in 1958.

Sandy Dumbrowski

In the stage production of the show, Sandy’s last name is Dumbrowski. However, because Olivia Newton-John is Australian the producers changed her last name to correlate with her Aussie roots. And vuela, Sandy Olsson was born!

Sandy Olsson

Sandy Olsson

Franki Valli sings film’s opening song

“Grease”, the film’s renowned theme song, played during the opening credits, was sung by the one and only Frankie Valli. This was very good choice, if I must say so myself.

Opening Credits

Grese theme song

A week long dance contest

That groovy hand jive dance contest, that we all love, was originally meant to be just Danny and Cha Cha, without Sandy. The scene was set at a real high school in downtown L.A, during a 116 degree day. Lesson learned: don’t join a hand jive dance contest during extreme heat conditions.

Danny & Cha Cha

Danny & Cha Cha

Prom or Film Premiere?

Well, looks like Olivia Newton-John combined the two occasions and totally pulled off wearing a pink prom dress to the film’s premiere. In response to our admiration of the prom dress, Olivia gave us the original photograph! Okay, she didn’t really but doesn’t this photo look vintage?).

Olivia Newton John Prom Dress

Olivia Newton-John Prom Dress

“Coach” aka Harry Reems

Harry Reems, more commonly known as “Coach”, had a past history in the adult film industry, and because of this the directors cut him from the cast.

Coach

Coach

Carrie Fisher as Rizzo

Here’s an interesting story: Director Randal Kleiser and Star Wars legend Mr. George Lucas were college roommates. The two would watch dailies of Star Wars to see if Carrie could be fit for the part of Rizzo. I guess she was more of a Princess Leia type, than a 70’s Pink Lady.

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher

Marie Osmond was the front-runner

As suitable as the wholesome singer was for the role, Osmond did not accept the offer. Because Marie Osmond was raised Mormon, she objected to play Sandy’s “bad girl” transformation.

Marie Osmond

Marie Osmond

Danny Zuko as a busboy?

Yes, believe it or not, this was one of the many visions Allan Carr had for the character. Not only did Carr imagine that the T-bird would work at a gas station, he also had Danny singing a song called, “Gas Pump Jockey.” I think this “no” decision, was one of the better ones.

Danny Zuko

Danny Zuko

The Beach Boys almost made it into the film

Speaking of Carr’s many visions, here’s another one. Carr originally pictured the surf rock quartet singing “Greased Lightnin.”

Beach Boys

The Beach Boys

The 24 hour carnival scene

Due to the fair only being in town the day of the carnival scene, the grand finale was shot in just 24 hours. In order to shoot close-ups later on, the director had created reproductions of all the carnival rides.

Carnival

Grand Finale

Who Plays Sandy?

Originally the choices for the lead role of Sandy were Susan Dey and Deborah Raffin. Susan Dey was however the first to be passed on for the role.

Who Plays Sandy

Who Plays Sandy?

Almost Sandy

Deborah Raffin was (shockingly) set to originally play Sandy until that was producer Allan Car met Olivia Newton-John.

Almost Sandy

Almost Sandy

Rydell High

Rydell High was actually named for Bobby Rydell, the teenage idol singer of “Swingin’ School.” The hit would go on to sell one million records in 1960.

Rydell High

Rydell High

Background

The director, Randal Kleiser, shot an earlier scene of a rather gritty and heated fight between Rizzo and Kenickie which would have given background to their whole milkshake incident in the diner scene. However, the scene was cut as it didn’t match the lighter tone of the film.

Background

Background

Songs Were Cut

A handful of songs from the stage version of the film were actually cut from the film. Such as: “Those Magic Changes,” “Freddy, My Love” and “It’s Raining on Prom Night,” however, were played on a jukebox or by the prom band in the film instead.

Songs Were Cut

Songs Were Cut

Plastic Wrap

The whole plastic wrap bit in the “Greased Lightning” scene was actually a symbol for condoms. Huh, go figure.

Plastic Wrap

Plastic Wrap

Almost Rizzo

Lorna Luft was originally considered for the role of Rizzo but was rejected in the end. However Luft did go on on to play Paulette in Grease 2.

Almost Rizzo

Almost Rizzo

Title Song

Bet you didn’t know that Kleiser absolutely hated the opening title song because he believed the lyrics to be too cynical.

Title Song

Title Song

Rushed in for surgery

Annette Charles played Cha Cha in the flick and during filming, she was hospitalized for stomach pains. However she checked herself out of the hospital to film the drag race scene. Later that night, she was rushed into the emergency room for an ectopic pregnancy surgery.

Rushed In For Surgery

Rushed In For Surgery

Wedding Bells

Jeff Conaway who played the legendary Kenickie later went on to marry Olivia Newton-John’s sister, Rona. The couple were together from 1980 to 1985.

Wedding Bells

Wedding Bells

Grey Days

During filming, Jaime Donnelly was growing tons of grey hair that in turn had to be dyed black for the movie! Crazy.

Grey Days

Grey Days

An Afternoon

The hit song of “You’re The One That I Want” took just ONE afternoon to film!

An Afternoon

An Afternoon

Critical Much?

The critics didn’t like Sandy’s leather pants in the carnival scene. The Today show’s Gene Shalit called it it “visual junk food,” the New Yorker said it was a “klutzburger,” and the New York Daily News’s reviewer said that it “should really be covered on the obituary page.” Yikes.

Critical Much

Critical Much?

Grease: Live

FOX’s Grease: Live aired on January 31, 2016 as a live, televised remake of the beloved 1978 film Grease. It stared Julianne Hough (Sandy), Aaron Tveit (Danny Zuco), Vanessa Hudgens (Rizzo), and Carlos PenaVega (Kenickie).

Grease: Live

Grease: Live

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