It’s been 40 years since ‘Grease’—where are they now?
“Grease” first graced the silver screen in the summer of 1978, and it was an instant hit. Beloved by generations over the past 40 years, the movie musical has only grown in popularity.
Over the years, “Grease” has returned to theaters multiple times, and it’s still being discovered by kids today. But where are the primary cast members are now?
Olivia Newton-John has been a role model to countless little girls since she graced the screen as sweet and sincere Sandy in “Grease.” After her success in “Grease,” Newton-John went on to have many No. 1 hits, including “Physical” and “Magic.”
Newton-John also faced a very public battle with breast cancer in the early ’90s. She has since been a tireless advocate for cancer “thrivers” (a term she prefers over survivors) and partnered with Austin Health in the creation of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre (ONJCWC). Her cancer came back in 2017, but the strong singer has continued to perform. She turns 70 this month and her long-awaited memoir, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” was recently released.
Newton-John has one daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, with her ex-husband Matt Lattanzi (whom she met on the set of “Xanadu”).
John Travolta brought a depth to Danny Zuko that helped audiences see beyond the character’s tough greaser façade. Since “Grease,” Travolta has starred in many films, including the mega-hit “Pulp Fiction” and the “Look Who’s Talking” trilogy. He’s also pursued other passions, such as being a pilot, and is even a Quantas ambassador-at-large.
Over the years, Travolta has known personal triumph and tragedy. He’s been married to wife Kelly Preston since 1991, and his daughter Ella Bleu has starred in films alongside him. Tragically, Travolta’s first son, Jett, passed away at 16 in 2009 while the family was on vacation in the Bahamas. Preston and Travolta also have a son named Benjamin.
Travolta continues to act, with a leading role in his most recent film, “Gotti.”
As Frenchie, the wide-eyed dreamer who happened to be a beauty school drop-out, Didi Conn played the part of Sandy’s ally in the tough world of Rydell High. The actress appeared in a number of other movies after “Grease,” including “Shooting Vegetarians” and “You Light Up My Life,” and starred in hit series such as “Benson” and “Shining Time Station.” She’s also one of only a few original cast members to appear in “Grease 2,” and she played Vi in “Grease Live!,” a one-night televised production of the musical, in 2016.
As a real-life buddy of Newton-John, Conn has made appearances at her concerts over the years, joining her on stage for the “Grease” songs. And her career outside “Grease” is still going strong. Her next films include “The Music” and “Paper Dreams.”
Conn had a son, Daniel, with her first husband, Frankie. She’s now married to composer David Shire and is stepmother to his son, Matthew.
Back in the day, Eddie Deezen played the lovable Eugene in “Grease.” The musical was Eddie’s feature film debut, and he often speaks of what a happy, positive experience it was for him and the other cast members. In fact, he returned to portray Eugene in “Grease 2.”
As a prolific actor and voice-over artist, Deezen has continued to soar in his career since “Grease.” You may know him as the Know-It-All in “The Polar Express,” but he’s appeared in a diverse range of projects. Deezen also writes for sites like Neatorama and Mental Floss.
As an accomplished, film, stage and television actress, Stockard Channing had a rich career before gracing the screen as Rizzo. When she appeared in “Grease,” she was the oldest cast member.
On television, Channing has had recurring roles on “The Good Wife” and “The West Wing” and on other shows. Her film career also continued long past “Grease,” though she remains known for that role.
She has been married and divorced four times, and now lives in Maine with her partner, cinematographer Daniel Gillham.
Jamie Donnelly has been known for her character Jan since “Grease” hit theaters. Her character is optimistic and a bit of a follower, and she’s also quite excitable.
Donnelly actually portrayed Jan on Broadway in the play version of “Grease” before making the movie. In fact, she has the distinction of being the only cast member to reprise her stage character on film. John Travolta and Jeff Conaway had both been in the play, but they’d played different characters.
After making “Grease,” Donnelly went on to appear in several films and television shows. She has also participated in several 40th-anniversary events for “Grease.” She’s now an acting coach in California. She lives with her husband, novelist Stephen Foreman, and has two adult children.
Kelly Ward, Barry Pearl and Michael Tucci
We almost feel like we have no choice but to list these three together. These T-Birds were attached at the hip during the film, with Kelly Ward playing Putzie, Barry Pearl playing Doody and Michael Tucci playing Sonny.
All three have gone on to act in television and film. Ward also taught musical theater and has won an Emmy for his work as a director. Tucci has taught theater, too.
Before Bruckner’s performance as Patty Simcox in “Grease,” she was a Krofftette in “The Brady Bunch Hour.” She was also a beauty queen, going so far as to be a finalist in the Miss America 1972 pageant.
After “Grease,” Susan did a film called “Deadly Blessing” and appeared on numerous television shows, including episodes of “The Love Boat,” and “Starsky & Hutch.” She still celebrates the role she played in “Grease” and recently appeared at the Academy’s event to celebrate the 40th anniversary.
Manoff portrayed Marty, one of the Pink Ladies and the girlfriend of Sonny. Manoff was an experienced actress when she won the party of Marty, and she was a member of the prestigious Actor’s Studio. However, she couldn’t sing or dance, so she faked her way through the audition and won the part with the power of her personality. Next time you watch the film, you may notice she doesn’t do much singing or dancing.
Before “Grease,” Manoff appeared in an episode of “Welcome Back, Kotter.” Like the other central cast members of the film, she has been closely associated with “Grease” since it hit theaters. She also appeared in films like “Child’s Play” and “Ordinary People,” and was a series regular on “Empty Nest” and “State of Grace.”
This actor, singer and former teen idol may have only appeared in one dream sequence — as the Teen Angel who sings “Beauty School Dropout” — but the scene is a memorable one.
Now 77, Avalon’s career in entertainment has been going strong for well over 60 years. In addition to “Grease,” you may remember him best from the series of “Beach Party” movies he did with Annette Funicello.
In addition to being an entertainer, Avalon published a cookbook in 2015 called, “Frankie Avalon’s Italian Family Cookbook,” and also has a line of health and cosmetic aids. The crooner and his wife Kathryn “Kay” Diebel have eight children and 10 grandchildren.
Conaway is the dynamic actor who portrayed Kenickie. While on the set of “Grease,” he met and fell in love with Newton-John’s sister Rona, and the two were married for several years.
In the years following “Grease,” Conaway was nominated for two Golden Globe awards for his portrayal of Bobby Wheeler on “Taxi.” He appeared in many other films and television shows after “Grease,” and even released an album called “City Boy,” which was produced by Bruce Springsteen’s manager, Mike Appel.
Conaway sadly also battled addictions for decades, going so far as to appear on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” a few years before his death. He passed away on May 27, 2011, in Los Angeles.
Which “Grease” character was your fave?