47 'Grease' Movie Facts: Cast, Awards, And Little Known Facts

Anusuya Mukherjee
Oct 20, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on May 18, 2022
'Grease' is based on the Broadway musical of the same name. Let's see more 'Grease' movie facts.

'Grease' was a smash hit when it released in 1978, and the film is popular even today.

This movie tells the story of two high school students, Sandy and Danny, who fall in love. They have to overcome obstacles to be together, including their cliques at school.

'Grease' was produced by Paramount Pictures and was directed by Randal Kleiser. This movie was based on the Broadway musical of the same name.

It took three months to film 'Grease', and it was shot in various locations in California. The film is based on a 1971 musical of the same name. Here are some fun facts about this classic American musical romantic comedy film.

Cast Of 'Grease' Movie

The cast of 'Grease' is iconic, and many of the actors went on to have successful careers. Let us take a look at the main characters and the actors who took to play these characters on screen.

Olivia Newton-John was cast as Sandy, but she wasn't the first choice for the role. Producer Allan Carr originally wanted Ann Margaret to play her part and even did some screen tests with her before deciding that she wasn’t suitable for his vision of what should happen in this storyline.

He then turned his attention towards other actresses like Lorna Luft (daughter of Judy Garland), Marie Osmond, Susan Dey, and Donna Pescow from ABC's 'Angie'; however, none seemed suitable. So he settled on Olivia Newton-John, who had done well playing a similar character previously called 'Sandy' from the 1971 film adaptation 'Grease Live!'

John Travolta was selected because director Randal Kleiser liked him best out of over 400 actors who auditioned for the role of Danny. This was Travolta’s first feature-length movie, and it made him a household name, especially when he started singing 'Greased Lightnin' in the diner scene of this film.

Didi Conn was initially asked to play Jan, but she campaigned for the part of Frenchie as she wanted more comedic lines in the script. Randal Kleiser agreed and cast her in that role.

Elvis Presley was up for the role of the teen Angel, but he died before filming began. Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond's brother and duet partner, was also considered for this part.

Randal Kleiser made sure that all of the cast members could actually dance before starting filming. This meant that they had to rehearse for weeks before the shooting began.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John both performed their own singing in the movie, which was fairly unusual at the time.

Jeff Conaway (Kenickie) had a bit of dialogue in the original script, but it was eventually cut from the movie because he couldn't remember his lines.

Rock Hudson played a central role in 'Grease' as Coach Calhoun, the school’s athletic director. He was also married to Rizzo and had two kids with her, Marty Maraschino (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) and Jan Brady (played by Jamie Lee Curtis).

Most of the major players were too old to play high-schoolers. Stockard Channing (Rizzo) was 34 years old when the film came out. Newton-John was 29 at the time. Jeff Conaway (Kenickie) was 27 years old when filming began.

John Travolta was 24 years old during production. Jamie Donnelly (Jan), who was 30 while filming, had to dye her hair from its premature gray to black. Her hair grew back so fast that daily root touchups were required using a black crayon.

Little Known Facts About The Movie

This classic American musical romantic comedy smash-hit has many facts that might not be known to people.

The original script for 'Grease' was quite different from the final movie. For example, Kenickie was initially supposed to be an African-American character, and Rizzo was going to be a man.

There were also originally going to be more songs in the movie, but most of them were cut during editing.

The scene where Sandy sings ‘Beauty School Dropout’ was almost not included in the movie. It was shot during the last day of filming, and director Randal Kleiser only had enough time to film it because the crew worked on getting the set ready for night shoots.

One scene that was cut from the movie altogether was a song called 'It’s Raining on Prom Night', which Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) sang together.

The character of Kenickie was named after Jeff Conaway's friend Kenickie Harless.

In one scene, Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) is wearing a pink dress, the same one she wore in her earlier film Toomorrow (1970).

The song 'Hopelessly Devoted To You' was not originally part of 'Grease' but was added after filming. Director Randal Kleiser wanted something to show Sandy’s feelings for Danny and serve as an emotional moment before the big finale, so he picked this song from Olivia Newton John's new album 'Totally Hot'.

In an early scene, when we see all four T Birds together at school, two girls walk by and call them 'greasers'. This refers to how people used to describe anyone who slicked their hair back and wore leather jackets back then.

One scene took three days to shoot because they couldn’t get the dance sequences right. This meant having many retakes before finally getting it right.

Paramount Pictures only gave them a budget of $6 million to make the entire film, so they had to be creative with how they used it. For example, some scenes were shot in an abandoned airport near Los Angeles, which made sense because you could see planes landing behind them while they were dancing.

During one scene, when Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny Zuko (John Travolta) are singing 'You’re the One That I Want', there is an airplane flying overhead. This was not planned but happened by chance.

As soon as production began filming this song, two aircraft flew over their head at the same time for several seconds before disappearing into clouds again, giving a perfect shot of two jets flying together from below.

The dance scene with greasers on stage has been copied in many other musical films, including 'Chicago' where Richard Gere does something similar at his club.

The film was initially supposed to be called 'Summer Nights', but Paramount Pictures thought that it didn’t sound as good. So they changed it to 'Grease', which is a term for oily substances used in vehicles to keep them running.

Sandy Olsson's last name is never mentioned in the movie. Her surname is only given in the credits.

The song 'Summer Nights' was initially written for a Broadway show called 'The Boyfriend' but never made it into the final production.

One scene that caused many problems during filming was the 'Greased Lightnin' race between Danny and Kenickie, as it took many takes to get it right because neither of them could drive a car convincingly.

The ending scene where Sandy and Danny reunite was shot at a beach in Los Angeles, and to make it look like they were on a different coast, sand was added to the beach.

According to director Randal Kleiser, the school dance scene is the biggest in movie history, with over 300 extras used when filming.

While filming 'Grease', Travolta had lost weight because of his role in 'Saturday Night Fever'. He gained it back by eating lots of pasta and drinking milk with sugar before going on set each day.

The original stage version ran from 1972 until 1980 before being revived again in 1994 and then again in 2005. It has since gone on tour worldwide with productions in Japan, Australia, and many other countries.

Unlike the original movie, 'Grease 2' is not set in high school but instead follows the characters two years later when they are all attending college.

'Grease: Rise Of The Pink Ladies', a Paramount+ series based on 'Grease', and 'Summer Lovin', a prequel, are both in production as of 2022. 

Randal Kleiser had very little control over the film's musical content as his selection of theme song, a piece of music by Charles Fox and Paul Williams, was overruled at the last minute by Robert Stigwood and Allan Carr, who hired from Stigwood's client Barry Gibb.

'Grease', the movie is a hit American musical romantic comedy film.

Awards And Audience Reception

This movie has won several awards and many nominations for prestigious awards like the Oscars or Academy Awards, and more. This film also received a mostly positive reception from the audience worldwide.

The film was nominated for various Academy Awards including in Best Costume Design and Best Film Editing categories.

'Grease' won an Oscar for Best Original Song, 'Hopelessly Devoted To You' by John Farrar.

It also has Oscar nominations in two other categories, Best Picture and Best Actress (Olivia Newton-John).

This movie received six Golden Globe nominations, including for Best Film Comedy, Best Musical Actor or Actress category, which went to Travolta. At the same time, Olivia Newton-John claimed the award for Most Promising Newcomer of 1979 at this same ceremony.

This film was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture but didn't win any.

However, it received Golden Globe nominations in 1978 and 1979 and BAFTA from 1977 through 1980 (including one for Olivia Newton-John).

'Grease' also won an Oscar nomination in 1981 when it made its way into theaters worldwide.

Despite the age of its stars, 'Grease' was a box office smash when it hit theaters in 1978.

It went on to gross over $100 million at the box office and is still one of the highest-grossing musicals ever released.

This film also enjoyed positive reviews from critics who praised the energetic performances, catchy tunes, and feel-good story.

One of the most memorable scenes in 'Grease' is when Kenickie and his buddies decide to buy a hot dog from a street vendor. However, things quickly go south when they get into an argument with the vendor over who will pay for their food.

The fight culminates in Kenickie getting punched in the face and ending up covered in mustard and ketchup.

However, not everyone loved 'Grease' as some religious groups took offense at what they saw as vulgar content and moral depravity in the film (namely Rizzo's bad girl persona).

Nevertheless, audiences responded enthusiastically to this raucous and fun movie musical for the most part. Many people regard 'Grease' as one of the greatest films ever made.

This film made way more money than anyone expected. It made $100 million in total revenue, becoming the highest-grossing film beating 'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope' (1977).


What year was the movie 'Grease' released?

The movie 'Grease' was released in the year 1978.

Which actor turned down the role of Danny Zuko in the movie 'Grease'?

Actor Henry Winkler turned down the role of Danny Zuko.

What was the name of the high school in the movie 'Grease'?

Rydell High School was the name of the high school in the movie 'Grease'. The scenes were shot partially at Venice High School in Los Angeles, California.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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