Frenchie got high at the wrap party and Kenickie had sex with EVERYONE – The rock 'n' roll truth about 1978 hit flick Grease
The 1978 film made stars of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John and even now its iconic anthems You’re The One That I Want and Greased Lightning still light up dance floors.
But, from harsh “age” tests to a wild wrap party – here are some of the little-known secrets of the Grease set…
“Crow’s feet tests”
John Travolta was 23 when he starred as T-Bird Danny Zuko opposite Olivia Newton-John – who played Aussie girl-next-door Sandy Olsen.
But, while the film is all about the lives of teenagers, just like John, most of the stars were far older than their characters.
Olivia was 28 and, alongside her co-stars, had to pass a “crow’s feet test” to play the Rydell High teens.
If any facial lines were visible in close-ups, the actor didn’t get the part.
Jamie Donnelly, who played Jan, was 30 and even had a smattering of grey hairs – but dyed her locks brown to pass for a teenager.
On-set crushes and romps
John Travolta has a massive crush on Olivia Newton-John and even lobbied for her to play his love interest.
He said: “She had a brilliant voice and I didn’t think there could be any more correct person for Sandy in the universe.
“I insisted that she be met and that we cast her.”
John also admitted how his co-star left him speechless, after transforming from goody-two-shoes Sandy to a “hot chick” in skin-tight trousers for the finale.
He added: “She was like Marilyn Monroe mixed with some motorcycle chick. I thought it was the bomb.”
But John wasn’t the only cast member to have a thing for Olivia.
Jeff Conaway, then 26, who played Danny’s best mate Kenickie, had a big crush on Newton-John and went on to marry her sister, Rona.
Meanwhile, off screen, it is reported he kept busy seducing the film’s extras.
Barry Pearl, who played T-Bird Doody, said: “We used to joke all the time because his trailer at lunchtime was really rocking. He made out like a bandit.”
John Travolta, was also a hit with female cast members.
Dinah Manoff, who played Marty when she was 19, said: “You couldn’t fail to have the biggest crush in the whole world on him.
“He was radiating so much talent and energy. I just started stuttering around him.
“Think about that moment he turns around in the film for the first time: you see that face and everybody just gasps.
“That’s how it was. Really jaw-dropping.”
The meaning behind the title
Grease revolves around Rydell High School, where Danny is head of the T-Birds greaser gang.
Sandy, who Danny had a fling with over the summer, arrives as a new student and is befriended by the sassy Pink Ladies.
Originally, Grease was a 1971 stage show thought-up by advertising copywriter Jim Jacobs and art teacher Warren Casey.
Producer Allan Carr later bought the movie rights and an animated film was planned – but never happened.
The title of the motion picture paid tribute to the 1950s culture of greasy food, greasy hair and greasy engines.
The set was scorching
The movie was filmed over sizzling two months, at Venice High School in Los Angeles.
Didi Conn, who played Frenchy, said: “They had to keep the windows closed because next door was a pork plant.
“It was so smelly, noisy and so very, very hot but everybody was just having fun, dancing and trying new things — you had to or you’d faint from the heat.”
Didi Conn revealed that the T-Birds had a pretty uncomfortable time filming the angels scene.
She added: “The boys said they weren’t afraid to go up high but they didn’t know the harnesses would be so tight around their privates. They were in such pain!”
The National Bandstand scene, which featured the iconic dance-off, took five days to shoot.
But, on the flipside, the You’re The One That I Want scenes were filmed in just a day – because that’s how long the travelling carnival was in town.
And, originally Greased Lightnin’ had been meant to be sung by Kenickie – but John Travolta badgered film bosses to let him sing the track.
Things got interesting at the wrap party…
Frenchy actress Didi Conn she also told how the movie’s wrap party has always been a bit of a blur, revealing: “I don’t even remember the wrap party because somebody made some brownies.
“There was something in it! I won’t mention names… I just remember laughing a lot!”
Here's where the actors are now, 40 years on.
And, here's when the Grease 40th anniversary singalong released in UK cinemas.
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