66 Facts You Didn’t Know About The Film ‘Grease’

One of the most famous and greatly loved musicals of all time, Grease is the story of the friendships, romances and adventures of a group of high school kids in the 1950’s.

But no matter how many times you’ve seen it, there are still loads of interesting facts you probably didn’t know. Even the biggest Grease fans will tell you that they discover something new when they watch it for the umpteenth time.

Here at the Arthouse Hotel, Grease is one of our all time favourite films, which is why we’ve dedicated an entire suite to the classic high school flick.

We’ve done our research and found a staggering 66 undiscovered Grease film facts.

See how many you knew already!

Grease film facts

Inspiration

Grease the movie is based on the 1971 Broadway musical of the same name.

The Broadway musical was written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.

Jacobs was an advertising copywriter and Warren Casey was a high-school art teacher. They met through an amateur theatre group in Chicago in the early 1960’s, at high school Jacobs had been a greaser and Casey had been bookish and studious.

Grease film facts

The film is set in 1958, 20 years before the actual release date on 1st June 1978.

It was directed by Randal Kleiser and written by Bronte Woodard.

Casting

Sandy

The wonderful Carrie Fisher was considered for the role of Sandy.

Both Marie Osmond and Susan Dey turned down the role of Sandy, Osmond apparently didn’t want her future children to see her in the film, especially the last scenes.

Before Olivia Newton-John was cast as Sandy, she insisted on having a screen test to make sure she would be the right fit for the character and to determine whether she had onscreen chemistry with Travolta.

Danny

Henry Winkler, a.k.a ‘The Fonz’ turned down playing Danny Zuko because the character was too similar to Fonzie, the tough guy with a heart of gold he was already playing on Happy Days.

The Guardian Angel

Elvis was asked to play the Guardian Angel role in the film, but he didn’t accept the role. It was taken by Frankie Avalon instead.

An Art Teacher

Andy Warhol nearly played the part of an art teacher, but various misunderstandings meant the role could never be decided on.

Held Back a Few Years?

None of the actors were anywhere near high school age, John Travolta was 23, Olivia Newton-John was 29, Jeff Conaway was 26 and Dennis Stewart aka ‘Crater face’ was 30.

Stockard Channing was the eldest of the teenage performers during the filming, she was 33.

The two closest to high school age were Lorenzo Lamas (Tom) and Dinah Manoff (Marty), they were both 19.

On Set

Beauty School Dropout

This scene nearly didn’t happen, Frankie Avalon had an intense fear of heights, so the slippery three-storey staircase didn’t seem so dreamy after all. To solve the problem they put mattresses alongside the steps.

The Dance Scenes

All of the background dancers were named, which doesn’t usually happen in films. Among them were Sauce, Bart, Bubba, Midge and Moose.

Most of the extras that featured in the dance scenes had won a nationwide contest to be in the film.

Dinah Manoff who played Marty couldn’t dance so she sat out every single dance scene.

Rydell High

The high school name Rydell High is a reference to Bobby Rydell, a teen idol known for his 1960’s pop and rock singles.

Rydell High is actually three different real Los Angeles high schools. The outside is Venice High School, the interior is Huntington Park High School and the school field was at John Marshall High School.

It took a week to shoot the dance contest scene and originally Sandy was not intended to dance, it was supposed to be just Danny and Cha Cha.

Hair Dye

Jamie Donnelly (who played Jan) was already growing grey hair when she signed onto “Grease.” To play the part of a high schooler, she had to dye her hair dark brown.

Originally, Lorenzo Lamas who played Tom Chisum had black slicked back hair which made him look too much like a T-Bird, he was told to dye his hair a lighter colour, so he was sent to Rodeo Drive to dye his hair blonde.

Travolta wanted his hair dyed blue-black, inspired by Elvis.

Arguments and Illness

There was originally an extra fight scene between Kenickie and Rizzo to explain why she throws the milkshake at him in the diner, but producers decided it was too heavy for the movie, calling it the “Martin Scorsese scene.”

John Travolta argued with Randal Kleiser, the director, over the end of the song “Sandy”. He wanted a close-up of himself instead of the cartoon shot of a hot dog diving into a bun, Kleiser disagreed.

A number of cast members got ill whilst filming the drag race scene, the water was stagnant and dangerous.

The Rydell prom scene was shot during a heat wave in California and several of the extras had to be treated for heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

Grease is the Word

Grease may be the word, but it’s never actually said once in the entire script, only the word ‘greased’ is sung during the song ‘Greased Lightnin’.

Originally Kenickie was supposed to perform ‘Greased Lightnin’, but Travolta fought to sing the number himself and won.

Name Changes

Producers utilised Olivia Newton-John’s popularity by allowing her to keep her Australian accent and changing Sandy’s last name from American ‘Dumbrowski’ to Australian ‘Olsen’.

In the stage version the boy’s group is called the Burger Palace Boys, this was changed to the T-birds for the film.

‘You’re The One That I Want’

The song ‘You’re The One That I Want’ was filmed at a travelling carnival that was only in town for one day, close ups had to be recreated by the set department.

Olivia Newton-John’s leggings were so tight that the zip was broken, she had to be sewn into them.

Not everyone could handle the carnival rides, Eddie Deezen who played Eugene was on a spinning ride after a scene was ended and threw up.

The ‘You’re The One That I Want’ scene only took one afternoon to film.

Trivia

The character of Danny could have been a busboy, the producer Allan Carr also imagined the greaser working at a gas station, singing a song called “Gas Pump Jockey.”

John Travolta started rehearsals for Grease just four days after completing filming for Saturday Night Fever.

It’s reported that the cast chewed their way through 100,000 pieces of bubblegum during the filming.

Originally, Grease was supposed to be an animated film, but the idea was scraped. To honour the idea they kept the opening credit animations.

The ‘Hickey’s from Kenickie’ that Rizzo tries to cover up were real, given by Jeff Conaway who played Kenickie, to make them look more authentic.

Jeff Conaway had a really big crush on Olivia Newton-John and was nervous around her on set, he ended up marrying her sister.

In Mexico and Venezuela, Grease in known as Vaselina.

Because Jeff Conaway was taller than John Travolta, Kenickie was often slouching when filming so that the lead actor of the movie seemed taller.

Cameos and Almost Camoes

When a coca-cola product placement deal fell through during post-production, multiple shots of coca cola products and advertisements had to be digitally removed or blurred out.

The Beach Boys almost made a guest appearance, Allan Carr originally imagined the surf rock quartet performing ‘Greased Lightnin’.

Danny’s blue windbreaker at the beginning of the film was intended as a nod to James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.

John Travolta’s sister, Ellen Travolta, plays a diner waitress with a single line – ‘Oh, there’s Danny and Sandy’ while watching the dance on TV.

The gang that played the famous trio, Sonny, Putzie and Doody, wanted to honour the Three Stooges and so they asked the producers to pay a small tribute prior to the bonfire scene.

Terminator star Michael Biehn makes an appearance in Grease in the scene where Danny and Kenickie put the frog in Patty’s bag.

The Soundtrack

Two number one hit singles came from the Grease soundtrack, “Grease” and ” You’re The One That I Want”.

The title song ‘Grease’ was written by Barry Gibb, sang by Frankie Valli and Peter Frampton played the guitar.

Lots of songs were cut from the final film, however they can be heard in the background of certain shots.

The “Alma Mater/Parody” instrumental from the stage version of Grease can be heard in the office on the last day of school and during the carnival scenes.

Sandy’s solo “Hopelessly Devoted To You” almost didn’t make the cut and was only added after the film was made. The song was nominated for an Oscar.

Reception

Grease was the highest grossing film of 1978.

Olivia Newton-John attended the film premiere in a prom dress and then for the after party, she changed into her second look, a hot pink spandex.

The official premiere after-party was at the famous Studio 54.

Grease won every People’s Choice Award for which it was nominated – Favourite Motion Picture Actress (Olivia Newton-John), Favourite Motion Picture Supporting Actress (Stockard Channing), Favourite Musical Motion Picture, and Favourite Overall Motion Picture.

Sequels and The Musical

Producers originally wanted to create 3 movies and a TV series but when the first sequel, Grease 2, flopped with $15 million at the box office the other movies were cancelled.

There was a planned sequel called Summer School which was completely different from Grease 2.

Didi Conn was the only one of the Pink Ladies and T-Birds to make an appearance in Grease 2.

Grease the musical is still a successful show and you can still get tickets to see it.

Reunions

Travolta and Newton-John reunited in 1983 for the romantic comedy Two of a Kind. 

They also released a duet Christmas album in 2012, called This Christmas.

There is a crazy fan theory that suggests that the entire musical is actually Sandy’s journey to the afterlife, the story goes that she died when she drowned at the beach and the car is taking them to heaven at the end. Make of that what you will.

The Grease Room At The Arthouse

At the Arthouse Hotel we know that Grease is a classic that should be celebrated.

Our unique Grease-inspired room has been designed as a tribute to the hit 1978 musical, with Sandy and Danny immortalised on the ceiling.

Relax in style, as our Grease room features a large screen TV, kitchenette and a double Jacuzzi bath.

Sleeping up to 6 people, our stunning room is the perfect way to stay in Liverpool city centre, as we’re closely located to the city’s finest restaurants, bars, shops and attractions.

We also offer our guests a whole host of amazing offers and packages, that are sure to make your stay even better! Check out our website to see if there’s something for you.

There’s nothing left for you to do but book a stay with us by calling our friendly booking team on 0151 541 9999.