The world could not get enough of Danny Zuko, Sandy Olsson, and the Pink Ladies. Climb into the convertible with us as we speed through amazing facts about “Grease” that might just blow your mind!
Nobody Was a Teenager
How well do you think the cast of “Grease” would do on their final year exams? If your answer is “not very well,” you would be correct. The cast members had last seen a high-school classroom at least ten years before shooting the film: most of the actors were well into their twenties when filming the musical.
The actress who took the concept of adults-playing-teenagers to its limit was Stockard Channing. The actress was impressively thirty-three years of age while playing seventeen-year-old Betty Rizzo. In addition, actress Jamie Donnelly had to dye her hair for her role as she was already greying!
John Travolta Steals the Lightning
John Travolta stole castmate Jeff Conaway’s lightning before signing the contract to star in “Grease.” Travolta was already an international name by the time he was cast as Danny Zuko, thanks to his breakthrough role in “Saturday Night Fever.”
The script originally called for castmate Conaway to sing the signature song of the film “Greased Lightning.” Travolta knew this scene was to become iconic, so he insisted the script have him sing it instead before he signed the dotted line.
Olivia Newton-John’s Tight Fit
There was one major challenge for any starry-eyed fangirl trying to copy Dame Olivia Newton-John's style in “Grease,” and that was getting on those extra tight-fitting pants. There was one and one way only she got into them: Newton-John's pants in “Grease” were so tight fitting that they had to be sewn on her before each shoot! A broken zipper did not help the situation either, Newton-John recalls.
The iconic pair of leather pants went on auction in 2019 and reportedly fetched a staggering two hundred million dollars. The late Newton-John donated the proceeds to cancer research.
Marie Osmond Had No Time for Bad Girls
Marie Osmond was a natural choice to play the character of Sandy in the 1978 film version of “Grease.” Director Randal Kleiser approached her directly, but the golden girl of America had very specific reasons for turning down the role. While Osmond liked Sandy, she did not particularly like her character arc.
While being interviewed about her career choices, Osmond revealed the reason she rejected the role was due to Sandy having to become a “bad girl” to finally win the affection of Danny Zuko.
How Is Britney Spears Related to Grease?
Out of all the pop stars in the world, the last one you would think that is related to the movie “Grease” in any way would be Britney Spears. The movie was released a few years before she was even born, however, there is a good chance she is familiar with the plot.
The high school in the movie is the exact same place where "Baby One More Time" was shot in 1998, twenty years after the movie was aired. Venice High School in Los Angeles is where this all took place.
The Coke and Pepsi Wars
“Grease” added to the Pepsi versus Coke wars. The producers had arranged a product placement deal with Pepsi to feature prominently in the movie, especially in “The Frosty Palace” diner. The contract may have come after the set builders got to work, or the set builders may have missed the memo. Instead of Pepsi signage, the set builders had installed “Coke” logos all around the diner.
The producers briefly proposed a second shoot take place with Pepsi set pieces, but time and budget constraints prevented this. The signage eventually had to be strategically blurred and angled out of shot.
The Infamous Rizzo Hickeys
Jeff Conaway was undoubtedly a fan of method acting. The famous hickeys left on actress Stockard Channing were not the responsibility of the make-up department. Conaway wanted the hickeys to appear realistic and took it upon himself to apply them directly onto Channing’s neck!
This approach comes as no surprise as it turns out that Conaway was somewhat of a ladies' man on set. The actor had dalliances with a few cast members, but the late Olivia Newton-John famously rebuffed his advances.
The Son of President Gerald Ford Had Stage Fright
Actor Lorenzo Lamas spotted the potential for “Grease” to open doors for him in Hollywood. The actor had his own true Hollywood story, landing the role of Sandy’s boyfriend, Tom Chisum. The part was actually already secured by a very unlikely candidate: the son of a former American president.
Gerald Ford’s son, Steven Ford, was trying to break into acting but got a serious case of bashfulness. The young Ford jumped ship, and Lamas grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Curiously enough, though, the character of Tom Chisum had no lines. What was Steven Ford so nervous about?!
Olivia Newton-John's Screen Test
The late Olivia Newton-John had to have a screen test with John Travolta before she committed to the role of Sandy. The demand was not that she had no trust in Travolta’s acting abilities; rather, it was her doubt in herself. The singer had only appeared in front of the camera twice before the part was offered to her.
After the screen test, however, Travolta himself was utterly convinced that Newton-John was ideal as Sandy. “Grease” producer and scriptwriter Allan Carr was equally enamored with the Australian starlet.
Greasing the Profits
Grease continues to be one of the most profitable musicals of all time. On a paltry budget of only six million dollars (most actors would not even answer the phone for that amount nowadays), the film has gone on to earn almost a seven thousand percent return on its original budget over the last forty years!
The film dominated the box office throughout its 1978 run and raked in nearly one hundred and forty million dollars. To add to the impressive credentials, “Grease” held the title as the most profitable musical of all time until “Mama Mia!” knocked it out of first place in 2008.
All in the Family
Some of the extras in the movie, are much closer to the stars of "Grease" than you could even imagine. So, the gang is at the dance, having the time of their lives when they are spotted out by the waitresses of PolarFreeze. One of them says "There's Danny and Sandy!"
That someone is Ellen Travolta, the very own real-life sister of John Travolta, AKA Danny Zuko. Apparently, Ellen was already a working actress, and when John asked if she could have a small part in the movie, the production couldn't refuse.
George Lucas Is a Fan of Grease
The Empire strikes back. The “Grease” fandom has George Lucas to thank for its modern-day comeback. Besides being a fan of the movie, Lucas is also a shrewd businessman and saw the potential for the film to rake in box office sales from a new generation. The Star Wars director had a call with the head of Paramount and told her that almost every kid has a “Grease” video, and it would be a money-spinner as a re-release.
“Grease” director Randal Kleiser, unaware of Lucas’s petitioning, called the Paramount head to negotiate a re-release and was informed that Lucas was way ahead of him!
Jeff Conaway Loves Australians
Olivia Newton-John certainly stole millions of hearts with her cherubic looks and butter-wouldn't-melt-in-her-mouth portrayal of Sandy Olsson in “Grease.” Producer Allan Carr and actor John Travolta all admit to having been smitten by the Australian actress. Another actor who could not hide his admiration for the actress was Jeff Conaway.
Conaway himself recalled that he would stutter around Newton-John and try to win her affection. Conaway did land up marrying a Newton-John...just not Olivia! Rona Newton-John, Olivia’s older sibling, fell head over heels for Conaway and the two wed two years after meeting.
John Travolta Gives Randal Kleiser the Nod
“Grease” director Randal Kleiser only had one feature film to his name before “Grease.” The movie in question was the drama “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble,” which happened to star a future “Grease” superstar John Travolta. While producer Allan Carr and the film studio were deliberating on a director, Travolta threw his megastar weight behind Kleiser as director.
The producers took Travolta’s recommendation seriously as the actor had recently just won an Oscar for his role in “Saturday Night Fever.” The director proved to be the best choice as “Grease” became an overnight sensation.
The Sequel Sucked
“Grease” gave producers and movie studios a lesson in the early days of the “sequel nobody asked for” genre. There is a notoriously lousy sequel to “Grease” that was released in 1982. The original cast members had moved on from the era, and only Didi Conn returned to reprise her role of the effervescent Frenchy.
Whereas the original “Grease” made a haul of almost two hundred million dollars during its theatrical run, “Grease 2” netted a tragic fifteen million dollars only.
The Bee Gees Squeaked Their Way Into the Film
Sneaky Bee Gees. “Grease” director Randal Kleiser was given permission to alter the original screenplay in order to adapt it better from the Broadway play. His creative license had a limit, though. Instead of negotiating with Kleiser on the opening theme song, “Grease Is the Word,” the producers underhandedly signed a deal with Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb to write, perform and record the famous soundtrack.
Kleiser was none the wiser and was still under the impression that his choice of a song performed by Paul Williams and Charles Fox was going to be used.
Beauty School Side-Eye
Go back to the Beauty School Dropout scene. If you didn't notice back then, we are here to reveal that two of the dancers are actually Pink Ladies, Rizo and Marty. They are dressed up and are almost unrecognizable.
There's one moment, that reveals their identity, as Rizo and Marty had such a special relationship. Rizo looks Marty straight in the face and gives her a memorable epic side-eye. Now go back to the movie and look for it.
John Travolta’s Dreams Come True
John Travolta’s dream of playing Danny Zuko on the big screen came true. The triple-threat actor had actually been part of the original “Grease” stage play while it was touring around America. Travolta’s star power was undoubtedly recognized back then as he played the role of Danny Zuko almost one hundred times!
After his success with “Saturday Night Fever,” “Carrie,” and, wait for it, a chart-topping single with the title “Let Her In,” the producers could not deny Travolta his time to shine as Danny Zuko.
Get the Words Right
Not everything about John Travolta is perfect. We have come across some singing, mimicking, and lip-syncing issues with Zuko. In the final scene of the movie, the gang is seen singing along to "We go together", however, Travolta's mouth is not synced with the words.
If you look closely, you can spot him singing "That's the way it should be...." before he corrects himself and goes back to "We'll always be like one". Oh well, not everything about him is perfect.
“The Fonz” Didn’t Want to Be Typecast
Although it seems unfathomable, John Travolta was not initially considered for the iconic role of Danny Zuko. When the Broadway play got the green light to become a major motion picture, the studio had one person in mind to play the slick Zuko: Henry Winkler. Winkler already had everything the “Grease” script called for: slick, smooth, Italian charm and bravado.
Winkler had embodied this in his character, Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, on “Happy Days” and was cautious not to become typecast. After the success and subsequent legacy of “Grease,” Winkler admitted to having remorse about not accepting the role.
The American Accent
Of all of Olivia Newton-John’s talents, the spectacularly versatile actress failed at one very specific thing: an American accent. Newton-John ticked all the boxes for the character of Sandy, but in the script, Sandy was a small-town American girl. With her looks, singing, and acting credentials combined, the studio could not ignore her as a draw card – not to mention Travolta’s insistence.
The scriptwriters made another minor tweak to the original script: Sandy was no longer the all-American girl-next-door but instead an Australian exchange student!
John Travolta’s Tongue Twister
John Travolta had a self-inflicted speech impediment that became an Easter egg in “Grease.” If you focus, you will clearly notice Travolta mouthing the words “heap lap trial” instead of “heat lap trials.” As hard as he tried, Travolta could not change his ‘p’ to a ‘t’ while performing, and director Randal Kleiser just went with it.
Kleiser later said in an interview that Travolta was doing his best that day as he was coping with the loss of his girlfriend, Diana Hyland, who had passed away in the recent year.
The Movie Changed the Soundtrack
The movie soundtrack is a little different from the stage play. Director Randal Kleiser and the producers decided on axing a few signature songs from the Broadway production of “Grease” when filming its big-screen adaptation. At the same time, the crew decided on adding a number of new songs.
These additions would go on to become the most recognizable songs on the soundtrack. Let’s be honest: what would the “Grease” world be without “You’re the One That I Want”? However, Stockard Channing had to put up a fight to keep her song for Rizzo!
The score competed with the film in sales. The cultural phenomenon had record sales that saw it rake in millions of dollars throughout 1978. The soundtrack produced three singles that all reached the number one spot at some point in their release: the “Grease” title song itself, Olivia Newton-John’s “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” and “You’re the One That I Want.”
In all irony, the only soundtrack to outdo it in sales was “Saturday Night Fever,” John Travolta’s other 1978 box-office smash.
Randal Kleiser’s Creative Control
First-time director Randal Kleiser had a mammoth task on his hands. The popularity of “Grease” as a Broadway sensation meant that expectations were high on its delivery to the silver screen. Kleiser did manage to tweak the original script to make his job just a little easier (and keep fans appeased). He requested that the location be no longer set in inner-city Chicago but in the innocuous suburbs of Wayne, Pennsylvania.
Even though the “Grease” gang was not intimidating, they were even less intimidating under their original name, “The Burger Place Boys.” Kleiser had the script changed to name them “T-Birds.”
The Bee Gees' Dark Side
After the producers had secured Barry Gibb to record the opening song, director Randal Kleiser had no choice but to work with it, even though it was not his first choice. Kleiser did manage to get his way, though, after he commented that the lyrics Gibb had written were “too dark.” Kleiser insisted on lyrics that were far more lively and optimistic: a better reflection of the feeling of 1950s America.
Gibb acquiesced but suggested that Kleiser film something with a more serious feel as well to balance out the peppiness. The singles went on to become chart-toppers.
Dinah Manoff Couldn’t Dance
Dinah Manoff may have had a smart mouth, but she also had two left feet! Manoff played the wisecracking Marty Maraschino, one-third of the “Pink Ladies” gang in “Grease.“ Manoff credits her comedic talents for landing her the role in “Grease” as she admits she was utterly hopeless as a dancer and singer and was almost sure they were going to pass on signing her up.
The producers and director could not leave her out of the dance scenes, so they made sure she was featured as little as possible instead of rewriting the script to exclude her.
The Lucille Ball Myth
This myth has followed actress Lucie Arnaz, daughter of the much-loved Lucille Ball, around her near-miss as Rizzo in “Grease.” For decades, fans have believed that Lucille Ball prevented her daughter from even auditioning for the role of Rizzo due to the risque reputation “Grease” had. Arnaz herself has refuted these claims and stated that her mother would never have stood in the way of any career choices she made.
Instead, she says that the producers were still debating on her as Rizzo, and she ran out of time to pull out of other contractual obligations.
John Travolta’s Height
Hollywood places a lot of emphasis on physical characteristics. A Google search for John Travolta’s height ranges from five foot eleven to six foot four. However, this mystery might be solved thanks to the “Grease” historians! Jeff Conaway, who played the smooth-talking Kenickie Murdoch in the film, stood six feet tall.
The producers wanted Travolta’s character, Danny Zuko, to stand head and shoulders above everyone. This meant that Conaway and the other taller actors had to slouch whenever in a scene with the much shorter Travolta.
Hopelessly Devoted to You
“Hopelessly Devoted to You” was almost a hopeless case. The immortal ballad sung by Dame Olivia Newton-John was written and recorded after filming had wrapped up. A clause was written in Newton-John's contract whereby she had to perform a solo song, but there was no song forthcoming from the writers.
Genius strikes under pressure, and a producer penned “Hopelessly Devoted to You” near the end of filming. Director Randal Kleiser was initially doubtful of it, so a new scene and dialogue were written to “fit” the song into the movie post-production.
The Doomed Trilogy
After being one of the highest-grossing box office successes of all time, the studio and producers decided that a “Grease” trilogy should be released. Their hopes were soon dashed after the release of “Grease 2.” The sequel spectacularly bombed at the box office and just squeaked over breaking even on its thirteen-million-dollar budget.
This torpedoed any investment into “Grease 3.” The movie's original cast came together in the early 2000s to propose an idea for “Grease 3” that centered around where Danny Zuko, Sandy, Frenchy, and the rest of the characters ended up. The studio passed on the idea.
Jeff Conaway’s Back Injury
An injury on set tragically led to a life of pain for Jeff Conaway. Conaway was dropped while performing for a high-energy “Greased Lightning” scene. The scene involves somersaults, handstands, and cast members swinging each other. Conaway slipped from the grasp of a castmate’s hands and landed on his back.
It caused enough damage that Conaway had to be medically treated and was prescribed painkillers – a prescription he would have for life. The actor appeared on Drew Pinksy’s show, “Dr. Drew,” to discuss his lifelong struggles with those habit-forming pills.
Leather, dancing, and summer temperatures exceeding one hundred degrees Fahrenheit are a recipe for disaster. The producers of “Grease” found this out the hard way while filming dance routines inside a school hall gymnasium. The crew could only film during summer while students were on break.
The gymnasium did not provide the best lighting as a set, so doors and shutters had to be kept closed for the lighting crew to get the best shots. This lack of fresh, cool air resulted in a number of cast members fainting and having to be treated for mild heatstroke.
John Travolta Lost to a Cartoon Hotdog
The infamously cheeky closing scene of “Grease” sees Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson driving away into the sunset, and the scene transitions into a wiener leaping between a hot dog bun. We are sure a few pennies dropped for our older readers! John Travolta, possibly on an all-time ego high, wanted a closeup of his face to be the closing shot instead of, well, a double-entendre cartoon hotdog!
Director Randal Kleiser, who already had a history of creative control issues on the film, refused to budge and Travolta walked away defeated.
The Wrath of Rizzo
Stockard Channing may not have been acting when she splashed Jeff Conaway full of milkshakes in a scene in “Grease.” The two actors had a real-life heated exchange on the set not long before the scene was to be filmed. While the source of the argument remains a mystery, director Randal Kleiser took the opportunity to film it, hoping it could be included later.
The war of words proved too aggressive for the tone of the film, and it was dropped. A crew member commented it seemed more like something from Martin Scorsese’s imagination rather than Kleiser’s.
The R-Rated Saran Wrap
The studio demanded that the “Grease” director, producers, and writers, do all they could to prevent the film from falling into the dreaded “R-rated” category, even though it is filled with innuendos. In the famous Grease Lightning scene, John Travolta's character Danny Zuko wraps the car in saran wrap.
This was a nod towards the more informal “preventative measures” men took in the 1950s. The studio demanded that Travolta not perform any risky moves during the scene, but he snuck in a cheeky gyration with the saran wrap that passed by the censors!
Grease Has No Grease
The theme song had us all convinced that “grease” was the word. But pay close attention next time watching the film: the word “grease” is never used in dialogue by any of the cast members!
The only occasion that the word grease is used is in the song “Greased Lightning,” and even that’s in the past participle. Then, of course, there are the opening and closing songs that clearly sing “Grease Is the word.”
Too Risky for the International Market
Despite all of the studio and producers' efforts, “Grease” found itself being “R-rated.” Fortunately, not in the United States, though, but in India and Argentina of all places. The film managed to secure a light “parental guidance” rating in most countries, but India and Argentina were having none of it and slapped the dreaded rating on the film, which affected ticket sales.
However, as time passed, the film boards revisited the ratings and dropped them into the “parental guidance” categories.
What Is the Word?
Even though the word “grease” is not used in any dialogue in the movie, it does have a very distinct history and meaning. “Greaser” was a common term for a specific subculture of men in the 1940s and 1950s that always had two types of grease on them: car oil and hair gel.
The slicked-back strands were a signature trademark of guys that thrived on high octane and engines. The teens in “Grease” were written as middle-class, suburban kids that were living out a rebellion in the form of the “greaser” culture.
1978 could not get enough of “Grease.” Cinemas all across the United States had a never-before-seen wave of moviegoers on their hands. In order to try and meet the demand, movie houses decided to screen showings of “Grease” one after the other, with no break.
This still did not solve the crisis as the throngs of moviegoers would only be able to squeeze into the theaters midway through the movie. This meant that scores of fans would sit through consecutive screenings to try and see the film in its entirety!
The King Has Left the Building
The lyric writers for “Grease” had a serious conundrum on their hands. Rizzo, played by actress Stockard Channing, sings a sarcastic number about Sandy Olsson’s puritan value system in the song “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee.” In a line of the song, Rizzo sings, “Elvis, Elvis, let me be. Keep that pelvis far from me!”
Unfortunately, the day that the scene was shot (with the song already having been recorded) was the day the world lost The King. Channing recalls the very uncomfortable energy on set while mouthing the provocative lyrics.
Anybody watching “Grease” today would consider it harmless, perhaps even wholesome. This was not the case in 1970s America. The bubblegum-chewing, gel-smothering, hip-gyrating musical was seen as edgy if not downright indecent! Producer Allan Carr and director Randal Kleiser had a task on their hands as they battled it out with studio executives who demanded whole scenes be left on the editing room floor.
Ultimately, Carr and Kleiser came out on top as they refused to bend to the censors’ dictations. When the movie was released, it caused a mini-scandal and even had an R-Rating tag it in some countries.
The Circus Comes to Town
“Grease” ends on a high note as “You’re the One That I Want” plays out while Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson finally confess their true feelings for each other. Director Randal Kleiser managed to rope in a traveling carnival to serve as the backdrop for the musical number.
The shoot only took a day to complete, but upon reviewing the footage, Kleiser decided that there weren’t enough closeups of the cast members. Kleiser stretched out the budget and had some of the carnival props copied and built by set designers so that he could get in a few zoomed-in pouts and smirks.
The Cast Had a Bubblegum Addiction
Ever wonder where John Travolta’s chiseled jawline and dimples come from? Perhaps adding up the math from the amount of chewing gum the cast went through while filming “Grease” will give you a clue. The final cost counted for pieces of gum chewed while on set came to one hundred thousand pieces of chewing gum!
Let’s do the math: “Grease” took just over one hundred days to shoot. If we one hundred thousand (pieces of gum) into the number of shooting days – one hundred and five – that gives us one thousand sticks of gum per day!
The creative competition runs deep in Hollywood. So deep, in fact, that the original musicians and writers are often snubbed when it comes to the big-screen adaptations of their famous works. This was true in the case of “Grease.” The musicians that wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway play, Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs, were excluded from the film’s planning and filming.
John Travolta, who played Danny Zuko and Doody in previous stage plays, was loyal to the duo and worked many of their original lines into the movie. Kleiser generally agreed with Travolta’s creative choice.
Olivia Newton-John's Desire to Dance
Dame Olivia Newton-John may have not had two left feet, but she certainly could not compete with John Travolta’s swift-footed choreography. Still, the Australian actress was keen on not being left behind when it came to the dance scenes and insisted that she have a chance to break out a move or two.
Producer Allan Carr had not written a dance scene for Newton-John, so she convinced director Randal Kleiser to let her boogie with Travolta in the dance contest scene. He agreed but got Sonny to swoop in and remove her before it became apparent that she couldn't keep up!
Danny Zuko Gave Many Actors a Break
The character of Danny Zuko will forever be immortalized through John Travolta thanks to the big screen adaptation of “Grease.” However, many fans may be unaware that a number of Hollywood hunks assumed the character throughout its live-action stage run. Some of the big names that have held the Danny Zuko title include Richard Gere, Treat Williams, and Patrick Swayze.
Treat Williams acted in another iconic musical of the 1970s: “Hair.” Patrick Swayze, famous for his role in “Dirty Dancing,” was a natural choice for the role.
Poor Patty Simcox
The goodie-two-shoes and ultra-preppy character Patty Simcox was the bane of the Pink Ladies’ existence in “Grease.” Lines between the film and reality blurred as the cast treated the actress who played Patty Simcox, Susan Buckner, the same way off-set as on.
Didi Conn, who played Frenchie in the film, admitted that the cast ignored, cold-shouldered, and was even downright rude to the actress during most of the shoot. The only actor that treated Buckner well was Jeff Conaway, who later admitted to having an off-screen romance with her.
The Homage to Ben Hur
“Grease,” being a movie about fast cars and drag races, managed to throw in an homage to another film with a drag race scene of its own – albeit a far more ancient type of drag race. In the T-Bird's competition, the Scorpions had knife blades installed on the hubcaps of their “Hell’s Chariot” hot rod convertible.
The blades were a nod to the spikes on the chariot rims in the Charlton Heston classic “Ben Hur.” In both films, the drivers use the spikes to violently derail the competition.
Cha Cha’s Affliction
One of the ladies, Cha Cha, is often seen in the film leaning against a car, chewing gum, and looking generally disinterested. While this was part of her character’s personality, there is another reason why she spent a large amount of film time leaning: she was in physical pain. Annette Charles, the actress who played Cha Cha, had recently fallen pregnant and was suffering some complications.
In fact, the actress had been hospitalized for tests but got special permission to leave so she could film the drag race scene. Shortly after filming wrapped, she was rushed to have emergency surgery.
The King Bows Out
“Grease” was filmed during the era when Elvis Presley still reigned supreme as “the King,” and the producers had high hopes of getting him to have a cameo in the film. The fact that “Grease” itself was set in the 1950s made it even more plausible that Elvis would feature. The producers needed Presley for one scene: to sing "Beauty School Dropout” to Frenchie.
Presley could not or did not want to make the commitment for reasons not entirely clear. The studio then got singer Frankie Avalon to star and sing the famous ballad.
The Biohazardous Drag Race
The infamous drag race scene where Danny Zuko pits his Ford Deluxe Convertible against Leo “Craterface” Balmudo’s “Hell’s Chariot” hot rod was filmed at the Los Angeles River. Specifically in a concrete channel used to catch and divert the overflow. The water in the canal was brackish and stagnant.
John Travolta, as well as other cast members that had the water splash on them during the race, fell ill from the contaminated sludge. No long-term effects came from it, and the cast was able to continue filming a few days later.
The Macho Hug
Danny Zuko and Kenickie Murdoch come together in one scene in a heartfelt, brotherly embrace. Well, that’s what the writers envisioned. John Travolta, who played Danny, and Jeff Conaway, who played Kenickie, both protested and said no self-respecting, 1950s greaser would be caught dead hugging his friend in public!
The two decided to improvise and filmed the scene where they hug but quickly catch themselves and then devolve into a self-conscious, embarrassing hug-handshake. The improvisation worked so well that director Randal Kleiser had no choice but to leave it in the final cut.
The one and only Oscar nomination that “Grease” received was for the song “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” the sappy ballad sung by Dame Olivia Newton-John. “Hopelessly Devoted to You” was one of the songs written specifically for the movie and did not appear in the original Broadway play.
Ironically, the director and producers were even unsure of including it in the film! The song seemed to predict its Oscar doom as the Academy as it lost out to “Last Dance” in the Best Original Song category.