This Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of Grease Is Rocking My 10-Year-Old Brain

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Pegged, we can presume, to the forthcoming Grease Live!, Vanity Fair has renewed my faith in print publications and published a lengthy tale of how the original 1978 film came to pass.


Here are some downright astounding things I learned today:

  • Henry Winkler aka “The Fonz” from Happy Days was considered for the role of Danny Zuko but he passed on it because he was “leery of being typecast.”
  • Imagine The Fonz as Danny Zuko.
  • Marie Osmond was considered for the role of Sandy Olsson but “dropped out in protest” after she learned that Sandy would transform “from good girl to bad girl.”
  • Imagine Marie Osmond as Sandy.
  • (Speaking of slutty Sandy, here’s director Randal Kleiser when he first heard they were considering Olivia Newton-John for the part: “How is she going to become this slut?”)
  • They wanted The Beach Boys for“Greased Lightnin’”
  • Imagining The Beach Boys in Grease makes my heart want to explode.
  • Porn star Harry Reems of Deep Throat was considered for Coach Calhoun, but the studio put the kibosh on that idea.
  • That was probably a good idea, frankly.
  • The producers were aware of the fact that the cast looked unfathomably old to be playing high schoolers.
  • Frankie Avalon was so afraid of heights they put mattresses at the bottom of the stairs during “Beauty School Dropout.”
  • Jeff Conaway, who played Kenickie, might have gotten the number for “Greased Lightnin’” taken away from him, but he knew how to cope:

Conaway eased his pain by seducing a parade of extras. “He was really feeling his oats,” says Channing, who got an actual hickey from Conaway during their on-camera make-out sessions. “We used to joke all the time, because his trailer at lunchtime was really rocking.” Barry Pearl, who played the T-Bird named Doody, concurs. “He made out like a bandit,” he says.

  • More people should say “feeling their oats” nowadays.
  • Scientology leaked into the making of even Grease:

Production was halted after Kleiser caught an infection in his foot from the filthy water of the Los Angeles River during the drag-racing Thunder Road shoot. He was resting in his trailer when Travolta walked in to give him a Scientology “touch assist.” Using his index finger, he touched Kleiser in various places as he said, over and over, “Feel my finger.” Kleiser would respond, “Yes,” and Travolta would answer, “Thank you.” This went on for an hour. “I was lying there with this fever and he’s poking me and poking me and poking me and I’m like, ‘Yes, I feel it.’ ‘Thank you.’ Then he left. The next day I was better, and of course he claimed it was because of the touch assist.”

Read the whole thing here, and remember kids: Grease Live! airs Sunday night.

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Image via Paramount Pictures.




I lived for Grease when I was a kid. My dad had a black market betamax tape of it (oh yeah!). We literally watched it every day. Then I watched it again when I was an adult and was like HOLY HELL! It’s really, really dirty. And I had NO IDEA.

Also, posting this pic of ONJ at the premier because it’s perfection. She dressed good Sandy style for the screening, and bad Sandy style for the afterparty (below). Sorry it’s in B/W—it’s a bubblegum pink version of her movie costume.