The Cast Of Grease Then And Now!
Grease was one of the most popular musical films of the 1970s, and for good reason. The movie, directed by The Blue Lagoon’s Randal Kleiser, featured a stellar cast of actors including John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John and Stockard Channing – all of whom brought the story of the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies to life with some epic dance numbers and plenty of singing.
Grease also featured a killer soundtrack, with songs from the likes of Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees and Ritchie Valens. The movie even scored an Oscar nomination for the classic ballad ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’, which was memorably performed by Newton-John in the role of Sandy Olsson.
In the article below, we take a look at what the cast of Grease looked like then and now. Enjoy!
18. Stockard Channing – Betty Rizzo
Stockard Channing played Rizzo to perfection in the movie. She was that slightly wayward, sexually-charged high school girl that everyone grows up with, but she turned out to have a heart of gold in the end. Rizzo had one of the most controversial storylines in the movie when she thought she was pregnant, but in the end it turned out to be a false alarm and she got her happy ending with Kenickie.
Channing has had a successful career in film and television since appearing in Grease.
She went on to play First Lady Abbey Bartlet in the TV series The West Wing between 1999-2006.
She was also nominated for a Tony Award and the Academy Award for Best Actress for her version of Six Degrees of Separation.
After four divorces and no children, Channing has been doing theatre work and currently resides with her partner of 20 years, cinematographer Daniel Gillham.
17. Jeff Conaway – Kenickie Murdoch
Kenickie was Danny’s best friend and the unofficial leader of the T-Birds, making him one of the coolest characters at Rydell High. All the girls wanted him but in the end he only had eyes for Rizzo, his female equivalent in the Pink Ladies.
Conaway had a sad life after his appearance on Grease.
He was also well known for his roles on the TV series, Taxi and Babylon 5, but his substance abuse issues seriously impacted his acting career.
He was featured in the first and second season of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
Sadly Conaway died of pneumonia on May 26th, 2011.
16. Michael Tucci – Sonny
Michael Tucci was one of the breakout stars of Grease, providing many of the biggest laughs as Sonny, the brash T-Bird who was desperate to try and get with Marty throughout the course of the film.
He also had a hilarious rapport with Principal McGee.
Tucci starred on the Gary Shandling show for four years as Shandling’s sidekick and best friend.
Tucci appeared in a few other TV programmes and now teaches acting at a high school in Los Angeles.
15. Didi Conn – Frenchy
Frenchy was the infamous ‘Beauty School Dropout’ who managed to dye her hair a striking shade of banana yellow before deciding to return to Rydell.
She was a fully-fledge member of the Pink Ladies and quickly became one of Sandy’s closest friends.
Conn appeared in some other TV roles on programmes such as Benson and Shining Time Station. She also became an activist for Autism when her son was diagnosed with it.
In 2008, she was named national celebrity spokesperson for Autism Speaks. Conn often appears in Grease promos and reunions.
14. Dinah Manoff – Marty Maraschino
Dinah Manoff played Marty Maraschino, the sophisticated Pink Lady who was desperate to leave high school and get together with an older man.
Despite her brief flirtation with Vince Fontaine, she ends up leaving Rydell and walking off into the sunset with Sonny.
She appeared on TV in the 90s but has also been seen in theatrical films such as The Amati Girls and Bart Got a Room. Manoff has three children with her second husband Arthur Mortell.
Sadly one of her sons, Dashiell, died in a car accident in Washington in 2017.
13. Jamie Donnelly – Jan
Jamie Donnelly had the unenviable role of Jan, the slightly-annoying and gross tomboy who can’t get enough of Ipana toothpaste.
She ends up with Putzie when the final credits start to roll.
She has not done much since this role but you may remember her from her part in The Rocky Horror Show – she starred as Magenta and The Usherette.
Donnelly is now an acting coach in California and lives with her husband Stephen Foreman, a novelist. They have two children together.
12. Barry Pearl – Doody
Doody was another T-Bird member who liked to cause trouble at Rydell and generally act out with the guys.
However, he did have a soft spot for Frenchy and didn’t even seem to mind when she turned up to the prom looking like a banana.
He didn’t have any other roles since this film but recently he has started to appear in television again with an episode of Even Stevens.
Pearl also starred in a Broadway musical entitled Baby It’s You!
11. Kelly Ward – Putzie
Putzie was another T-Bird who didn’t have as much screen time as the other gang members but still managed to strike up his own romance with Jan, his equivalent in the Pink Ladies.
Apparently, Ward’s character was created especially for the movie!
Ward hasn’t done much acting since Grease but is still firmly involved in the entertainment industry.
He is a highly successful voice actor and director, and teaches musical theatre at the University of Southern California.
10. Eve Arden – Principal McGee
Eve Arden was already a highly successful actress in the Golden Age of Hollywood when she appeared as the charismatic Principal McGee in Grease.
Fans of the movie loved McGee and her revulsion at the goings-on of her students.
Although she was a secondary character, McGee will always be remembered by Grease fans for her comedic turn in the movie.
After a successful career from the 1930s until the 1970s, Arden began to wind down her acting appearances.
She did return for Grease 2 but sadly passed away in 1990 from heart disease at the age of 82.
9. Dody Goodman – Blanche
Dody Goodman almost stole the show as the hapless Blanche, Principal McGee’s assistant and all-round clutz.
Fans of the film enjoyed watching her during the school announcements as she got in McGee’s way time and again.
Goodman appeared in several popular TV shows including The Mary Tyler Moore Show and later turned to voice work in programmes such as Alvin and the Chipmunks.
She also made a return to Grease in the second movie. Goodman passed away of natural causes in 2008.
8. Susan Buckner – Patty Simcox
Susan Buckner perfectly encapsulated the preppy teacher’s pet Patty Simcox – everyone grew up with someone like that in high school.
She was also the head cheerleader and even had a thing for Danny, but Sandy made sure that it was she who got the guy in the end.
Susan Buckner still looks amazing at the age of 65 but we don’t know that much about her life after Grease.
She made some sporadic TV appearances since the film but is probably best known for her role in Grease and also as a finalist in the Miss America Pageant of 1972.
7. Edd Byrnes – Vince Fontaine
Edd Byrnes played Vince Fontaine, the sleazy announcer and DJ at KZAZ radio.
He doesn’t get much screen time in the film but manages to successfully pursue Marty during his time at the Rydell prom.
After a successful music career and his appearance in Grease, Byrnes made plenty of TV guest appearances before retiring from the world of show business.
His son Logan is a Fox News anchor in Los Angeles, California.
6. Annette Charles – Cha Cha
Annette Charles was popular with male audiences as Cha Cha DiGregoria, the exotic dancer and girlfriend to Leo (who heads up the Scorpions, a rival gang).
She famously starts the race at the end of the film between Leo and Danny.
Charles appeared in a couple of TV series’ since Grease but never really returned to acting and instead became a speech professor in California.
Sadly she died of brain cancer in 2011, only three months after her co-star Conaway.
5. John Travolta – Danny Zuko
John Travolta burst onto the scene as Danny Zuko.
Hot on the heels of his success in Saturday Night Fever, Travolta decided to go the musical route with his portrayal of the T-Bird greaser who ended up falling for Sandy.
Travolta’s acting career wasn’t so hot in the 80s but he made a comeback in the 90s with his role in Pulp Fiction.
In 2018 Travolta is now a respected actor with appearances in Get Shorty and American Crime Story under his belt.
He recently starred in the movie Gotti and is working on a number of projects set to appear next year. He’s still firmly into Scientology and it doesn’t look as though he’ll be leaving the cult any time soon…
4. Olivia Newton-John – Sandy Olsson
Olivia Newton-John was already a popular singer by the time she bagged the lead role of Sandy Olsson in Grease.
Her character started off as a straight-laced grade A student, but by the end of the film she had transformed herself into a chain-smoking ‘loose woman’ to win Danny’s heart. A great message for young girls everywhere!
As well as being a Grammy Award-winning singer and actress, Newton-John has been an activist for environmental and animal rights issues for decades.
She is also a survivor of breast cancer since 1992 and a successful business woman. Sadly, the actress recently revealed that she is battling breast cancer again for the third time. Good luck Olivia!
3. Ellen Travolta
The eldest of the six Travolta siblings, Ellen is 15 years John’s senior. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it part, but she plays a waitress in Grease. She followed this up with a regular role in Happy Days and its spin-off, Joanie Loves Chachi.
Now aged 79, you’d forgive Ellen Travolta for putting her acting days behind her and enjoying retirement – but she’s taking a different approach.
Following the death of her husband, actor Jack Bannon, in 2017, Ellen Travolta has made appearances in two new films, resuming the career she put on hold back in 2009.
2. Frankie Avalon
Former teen idol, responsible for numerous chart hits like Venus and Why in the 50s and 60s. He played Teen Angel in Grease, and sang Beauty School Dropout.
After a fallow 70s period, Avalon got a much-needed career boost thanks to his performance in Grease.
Today, aged 78, Avalon still performs sporadically, but he prefers to give most of his focus to his business, Frankie Avalon Products.
1. Lorenzo Lamas
A budding young actor, who only got his (non-speaking) role as a jock in Grease because the original actor dropped out.
After Grease, Lamas got his big break: a lead role on the CBS soap opera Falcon Crest, for which he was Golden Globe-nominated. Following Crest, he was Reno Raines/Vince Black in 110 episodes of action series Renegade.
Lamas’ post-80s and 90s career hasn’t been quite so kind, though he has lately managed to bag himself a couple of lo-rent Asylum monster movies, including Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus and Sharknado 3. The actor has six children.
That’s the cast of the first Grease film all present and correct – but what about those cast members first introduced in the sequel, Grease 2? Scroll down to see what those guys are up to now.
7. Michelle Pfeiffer
An unknown actress, who had yet to reach superstar heights, playing Stephanie Zinone, leader of the Pink Ladies in Grease 2.
After 1983’s Scarface put her on the map, films like Dangerous Liaisons and Batman Returns made her one of the biggest names in the 80s and 90s.
Today, aged 60, Pfeiffer continues to light up the screen, appearing in such big-hitters as Murder on the Orient Express and Ant-Man and the Wasp. She has two children with TV writer-producer David E Kelley, to whom she has been married since 1993.
6. Maxwell Caulfield
As English exchange student Michael Carrington, Maxwell Caulfield got his big break – not just his first leading role, but his first film role ever.
Unfortunately, Grease 2 wasn’t the breakout film role that Caulfield was probably hoping for. Roles in Dynasty and its spin-off The Colbys followed, but movie stardom eluded the actor.
Fortunately, Caulfield has had more success in theatre and in British television. He had regular roles in Casualty and Emmerdale in the 2000s, and has played Billy Flynn in Chicago and the Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show on the stage.
5. Adrian Zmed
Before he landed the role of Johnny Nogerelli, Stephanie’s ex and new leader of the T-birds, Adrian Zmed got his break playing Danny Zuko in the stage version of Grease.
1982 was a big year for Zmed: along with Grease 2, he also kicked off his starring role in TV’s TJ Hooker.
Most recently, Zmed appeared as himself in Sharknado: The 4th Awakens. He has two children, and is married to third wife Lyssa Lynne Baker.
4. Christopher McDonald
Having appeared in just one film, 1980’s Hearse, Christopher McDonald’s role as T-bird Goose McKenzie in Grease 2 was a major boost to his career.
After Grease 2, McDonald became one of Hollywood’s premiere ‘that guy’ actors, appearing in such classics as Thelma & Louise, Fatal Instinct, Grumpy Old Men and Quiz Show.
Lately, McDonald’s familiar face has been showing up in prestige dramas like The Good Wife, Boardwalk Empire and Ballers.
3. Tab Hunter
A Hollywood veteran, who had already experienced more than 30 years in the industry when he appeared as substitute teacher Mr Stuart in Grease 2.
Sadly, Hunter passed away in 2018 at the age of 86, but he left behind a legacy so significant he was the subject of his own award-winning documentary, Tab Hunter Confidential, in 2015.
Hunter had been a matinee idol in the 50s and 60s, and later became an LGBT icon after coming out as gay. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
2. Connie Stevens
A music, film and TV star of the 60s, Stevens was already a veteran when she signed on to play Ms Mason in Grease 2.
After Grease 2, Stevens worked only sporadically, with occasional roles in TV shows including The Love Boat and Murder, She Wrote.
Stevens’ most recent role came in the comedy drama Just Before I Go, directed by Courteney Cox. She has two children, both of whom are singer-actors in their own right.
1. Matt Lattanzi
The partner of the original Grease’s Olivia Newton-John, the two having met on 1980’s Xanadu, Matt Lattanzi played Brad, one of the Preptones, in Grease 2.
In 1984, Lattanzi married Newton-John, with whom he had one child. Lattanzi and Newton-John divorced in 1995.
With Lattanzi’s acting career over by the mid-90s, little is known about his life since. It was recently reported that Lattanzi had been living off-grid in LA.