I just finished watching the latest episode of Glee, well the last one I can view on Hulu anyways which was on Nov 15, “Glease“. I have no cable TV so sometimes takes me awhile to catch up with shows. Now I’m a huge Glee fan and an even bigger Grease fan, so I was very excited to see this episode, which featured many of my favorite songs from the movie musical. My history with Grease goes back to my middle school days. Yes, I am aware that the movie came out in 1978, which was a few years before I was even born. But for some reason, the movie regained its popularity in the early 90s, probably in the same way that I grew up watching sitcoms from the 50s and 60s, like My Three Sons and The Monkees. Anyways, when I was about 12, I had this group of girls that I hung out with and we liked to call ourselves “The Pink Ladies,” just like the girls in the movie did. My best friend, the first guy I was ever in love with, got me the soundtrack for my birthday. I didn’t fault him the fact that it was a single from the Broadway musical version, though I was a little disappointed truth be told. This was the version of the song that I wanted. And yes, I know that the movie is very outdated in its ideals and the fact that most of its co-stars were way over the age of teenagers when they took the roles, but it is still a fun movie to watch and sing along to. I think there is probably a tie between Sandy and Rizzo for my favorite characters in the movie, although I gotta say that the characters they picked for those roles in “Glease” were excellent as well (I think Unique would’ve been fun for Rizzo, though Santana, as she said, was made for the role). And Grease is honestly the only movie I can really stand John Travolta in, with the possible exception of the Look Whose Talking? movies (what can I say? I’m a child of the 90s). Here are some fun factoids I found on the movie, with some of my commentary:

  • Due to a zipper breaking, Olivia Newton-John had to be sewn into the trousers she wears in the last sequence (the carnival at Rydell). [which makes sense given how tight the pants are]
  • Henry Winkler, who became a sensation as “Fonzie” on Happy Days, was considered for the role of Danny Zuko. However, he turned down the role for fear of being typecast.
  • Carrie Fisher was considered for the role of Rizzo. [I think she might’ve worked for the role, but I loved Stockard Channing in the role, she’s more feisty; plus honestly, I’m not sure most people would have any idea who she was if not for the movie]
  • It was released again in theaters in 1998 for a couple of reasons: to mark the 20th anniversary of the original and because the year before, a dance mix of songs from the soundtrack became a big hit on radio. [a couple of years after I first discovered Grease]
  • Danny’s blue windbreaker at the beginning of the film was intended as a nod to Rebel Without a Cause.
  • The original stage play had more sexual references than the censors wanted to allow. Among these was the use of plastic wrap as protection. To overcome the censors, there weren’t any blatant references but Danny rubs plastic wrap over his crotch during “Greased Lightning”. [which makes sense given the amount of censorship they do to it even now in the “Glease” episode and in high school musical versions everywhere]
  • The scene in Frenchy’s bedroom while Rizzo is singing the line about Elvis was actually filmed the same day that Elvis Presley died.
  • The dance contest scene was filmed during the summer, when the school was closed. The gym had no air conditioning and the doors had to be kept closed to control lighting, so the building became stifling hot. On more than one occasion, an extra had to be taken out due to heat-related illness.
  • The official premiere after-party was at Studio 54.
  • “Greased Lightning” was supposed to be sung by Jeff Conaway‘s character, Kenickie, as it is in the stage version. John Travolta used his clout to have his character sing it. The director felt it was only right to ask Conaway if it was okay. At first he refused, but he eventually gave in. [this makes Travolta look a bit like a douchebag in my opinion]
  • The original Broadway production opened at the Eden Theater on February 14, 1972 and ran for 3,388 performances, setting a record. Adrienne Barbeau and Barry Bostwick were in the original Broadway cast. John Travolta appeared at some time as a replacement on Broadway in the role of “Doody”. Marilu Henner, an alumna of the original Chicago production, appeared as a replacement in the role of “Marty”. Patrick Swayze and Treat Williams were both replacements as Danny Zuko. Richard Gere is also listed as an understudy to many male roles, including Danny Zuko. Gere played Zuko in the London production in 1973. [Richard Gere as Danny Zuko? Not sure about that, though he was definitely good looking enough in An Officer and a Gentleman made 9 yrs later; heck let’s be honest, he is still an attractive man now]
  • “Hopelessly Devoted To You” was written and recorded after the movie had wrapped. The producers felt they needed a strong ballad and had Olivia Newton-John come back to film her singing this song. This song ended up receiving an Academy Award nomination.
  • Stockard Channing was not the first choice for the role of Rizzo; Lucie Arnaz was allegedly dropped from consideration when her mother, Lucille Ball, called Paramount and said, “I used to own that studio; my daughter’s not doing a screen test!” (Ball actually owned the studio Desilu which was bought by Paramount). The part went to Channing when the casting director remembered seeing her with Lucie in the play, “Vanities” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles (the third member of the cast was Sandy Duncan).
  • Jeff Conaway stated in an episode of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew that while filming the scene/song “Greased Lightning” he was dropped by his fellow cast members and injured his back leading to his addiction to prescription painkillers.
  • The highest-grossing movie of 1978.
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