40 Years Later Here’s What the Cast of ‘Grease’ Has Been Up To
Grease was the anthem of baby boomers and every jazz hand gay out there and it’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years since the film came out and the fact I know a film so well that’s far older than I am. Though it’s widely been counted a success with its $6 million budget turning into nearly $400 million in profit over the years, not everyone has always been so thrilled about the production.
“After seeing [Travolta] in three movies, I am convinced that he has exhausted his slender bag of tricks,” wrote John Simon in the National Review. “Even that smiling, blue-eyed colt face of his, like that of an anthromorphised Walt Disney horse, has become a mere whinnying platitude.” The irony is that years later now that we know John Travolta wears a toupee perhaps that criticism was more of a premonition of things to come in the future?
All jabs aside, if the age of the cast had remained true to type, they all would be in their 50s now but since many were around 30 or above playing teenagers, they’re considerably over the hell now. Olivia Newton-John was 28 playign Sandy, Stockard Channing was 33 playing Rizzo, Jeff Conaway was 26 playing Kenickie and John Travolta was 23 playing Danny. Even considering Travolta’s line of “every teacher I got this year has flunked me at least once” we’re sure he didn’t stay back 5 years but anyone who would put on that hair he bought in his later years insisting it’s his might not be that bright. Just kidding. We love you, John.
Now John Travolta, a 64 year old Aquarius who played Danny Zuko, the leader of the ‘T-Birds’ gang and Sandy’s boyfriend has remained a heavyhitter over the years starring in films and television shows such as Pulp Fiction, The People v. OJ Simpson recently and accumulated 3 children along the way. He wasn’t in any rush to have those as they’re all about 10 years apart. Sadly he lost his 16 year old son Jett to a seizure in 2009. He now has a Jett Travolta Foundation created in his name which has donated to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy and similar organizations. Also, can we discuss the gang named T-Birds? Given the prevelance of the trans community in 2018 it sounds a lot more like something that would appear in the FX lgbt series Pose than a straight group of guys in a 50s themed flick. He did however perform a throwback to his Saturday Night Fever moves at Cannes on stage next to rapper 50 Cent this year proving he’s still got it.
Olivia Newton John is 69 who played Danny’s girlfriend, Sandy Olsson and has been consistently recording music putting out albums nonstop since the beginning of the 70s. She’s had 5 Hot 100 Number One singles and won 4 Grammys over the years. She just finished a Vegas residency in 2014 and even as recently as 2015 scored her first Billboard Dance Club Number One single, You Have to Believe. Sadly the breast cancer she was diagnosed with in 1992 has come back in her lower back May of 2017, so we are keeping her in our prayers.
Stockard Channing is 74 and the former leader of the Pink Ladies clique, cast as Betty Rizzo has amassed a Tony Award for her performance of Six Degrees of Separation as well as an Academy Award. Some of her best and longest running work was the 7 years she spent on The West Wing as First Lady and her role on The Good Wife. Unlike ex-husband of Real Housewives star Yolanda Hadid, David Foster, she isn’t willing to go into a 5th marriage. She’s had 4 husbands and just decided to stick to being in a relationship with the last guy, cinematographer Daniel Gillham for the last 20+ years. If you haven’t gotten it right by husband #4, why bother? It’s okay Stockard, no judgment from us. You’re happy and that’s all that matters.
Jeff Conaway played Danny’s best friend Kenickie and finished the movie struggling with a life of drugs. He appeared in a few films and the show Taxi but quit after 3 seasons due to drug abuse. He ended up on Celebrity Rehab in 2008 and passed away 3 years later at age 60.
Didi Conn is 66 who played Frenchy, Sandy’s best friend who I remember from her time on Shining Time Station as a kid and Benson. The Brooklyn native is 66 now and after her son was diagnosed with autism she became the national spokesperson for Autism Speaks.
Michael Tucci is now 72 and played Sonny LaTierri, the wannabe womanizer of the T-birds. And who could forget him from Diagnosis Murder? He spent years touring in the production of Chicago as Roxy Hart’s husband and has television credits it seems for every year from the 70s to 2000. After a successful film, theater and television career he is now teaching Introduction to Fine Arts and Theater Arts at St. Francis High School in La Cañada Flintridge, California.
Dinah Manoff is 62 and played one of the Pink Ladies. To start, Dinah is the daughter of Lee Grant so she was destined for a great career from the beginning. She received a Tony Award for her stage performance in I Ought to Be in Pictures. One piece of irony about her on stage is that theater actors and actresses generally should be able to sing, dance AND act. She on the other hand isn’t just rhythmically challenged but she’s so bad at dancing she was left out of the prom dance scene altogether in Grease. She’s had major roles in Soap, Empty Nest and State of Grace and had the chance to appear in the film The Amati Girls alongside her mother. She’s since pseudo retired as 2010 moving to Bainbridge Island, Washington with her now husband of 21 years saying she felt she had reached her L.A. potential and it was time to move on.
Jamie Donnelly is 71 and played Jan, one of the members of the Pink Ladies. She’s a theater veteran who had been in the Broadway version of Grease long before the film was even thought about. She came to the film with the Rocky Horror Picture Show under her belt and after the film she chose to take a full 2 decades break from Hollywood. While a bizarre career choice for someone that’s 30, it’s better to walk away than to let the industry drive you crazy like so many other people. She’s since appeared in Cyrus alongside Jonah Hill from Wolf of Wall Street and the Emmy award winning shows Monk with Tony Shalhoub. She has two millenial children who she raised while working as an acting coach to many in Hollywood today.
Barry Pearl is 68 years old, played Doody, was a member of the T-Birds and has largely been a television guest star since Grease. He’s appearing in Benson, Beverly Hills 90210, Baywatch and even Barney. He’s made his theatrical return in recent years on a national tour of Happy Day, the Musical and 2012’s Baby It’s You on Broadway.
Now that you know what the surviving castmembers have been up to over the years, this would be a good time to watch it over again, available on Amazon Prime and pick up People Magazine’s Grease 40th anniversary special edition on news stands now!
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