The more you sit and think about the 1970s movie “Grease,” the stranger it becomes. It’s supposed to be a movie about life as an American high school teenager in the 1950s, but it was made close to the beginning of the 1980s, and several of the main actors in it were over thirty. It was subjected to an utterly terrible sequel, but the sequel didn’t damage the stock of the first film. Every review of the film when it was released said it was laughably awful, and yet it became the most beloved musical movie of all time. Even now, so many decades later, the musical that inspired the film plays to sold-out audiences in London and New York.
As you can hopefully tell by this point, we know more than a thing or two about “Grease.” Aside from launching the careers of both John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, it’s one of the most quotable, referenced, and memorable films ever made, and it’s become a cinematic legend. Even with all this fame, though, there are several things about the film that very few people know. We bet you’d like us to let you in on a little bit of that knowledge, and we’re very happy to do so. Here are five strange things that very few people know about “Grease!”
Weird Facts About Grease
1. The Elvis Scene Happened On A Strange Day
Almost every scene in “Grease” is memorable for one reason or another, but some are more memorable than others. Even if you haven’t seen the film (or the musical) for years, we imagine you can remember the song “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee” in great detail. If your memory is particularly good, you might recall a break in the song during which Rizzo, as played by Stockard Channing, shouts, “Elvis, let me be” as a taunt.
The day that scene was filmed was August 16th, 1977. Those of you who know a thing or to about entertainment history might recognize that date straight away. It was the same day Elvis Presley died. The strange coincidence understandably spooked the cast and crew.
2. The Best-Known Songs Aren’t From The Musical
If we were you to ask all of you to name your favorite five songs from “Grease,” we suspect that many of you would come up with different answers, but a core group of the same songs would appear in every list. We’d expect to see “Summer Nights,” “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” and “You’re The One That I Want,” in the majority of them. Hearing those songs came as a surprise to people who went to see the film after seeing the original musical on Broadway because two of them weren’t in that production.
Even though the musical had been a smash hit and had more than enough songs to fill the movie’s running time, the producers of the movie decided they weren’t enough. They commissioned the creation of “You’re The One That I Want” and “Summer Nights” specifically for the film. Not only that, even the title track “Grease” was a post-musical addition!
3. Nobody Wanted To Play Sandy
The role of Sandy Olsson has followed Olivia Newton-John around for the rest of her career, but she’s probably glad she did it. It led to a lucrative music career for her, and it’s earned her more money than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. She was lucky to get it, though, because just about everyone else the producers could think of was offered the past first.
Carrie Fisher didn’t think it was right for her. Deborah Raffin and Susan Dey thought it was beneath them. Marie Osmond of the pop band “The Osmonds” initially said yes, but then changed her mind because she thought Sandy’s ‘bad girl’ transformation at the end of the film would damage her ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ image. Olivia Newton-John was at the bottom of a long list, and yet now we can’t imagine anyone else playing the part.
4. It’s Still A Big Hit At Casinos
“Grease” is a coming-of-age story, and one of the many things that people gain the legal right to do when they’ve ‘come of age’ is play online slots. The reason we’re telling you this is that there’s an official “Grease” online slots game on the internet, and it’s extremely popular. Playtech came up with the slot as recently as 2018 and has been making big money from it ever since.
From what we’re told about it, the combination of 20 pay lines, 95.55% return-to-player rate, and more than ten different and unique bonus features has made it a big hit with online slots players, too. The characters of “Grease” would have no idea what an online slots website was, and nor would the people who were making the movie or the musical during the 1970s, but this is a new form of media for the brand that will continue to sustain it for yet another decade.
5. The True Story Of “Beauty School Dropout” Is A Little Grim
“Beauty School Dropout” is the quirkiest song in all of “Grease.” On the surface, it’s the relatively minor character of Teen Angel serenading Frenchie, as played by Didi Conn. One look at the lyrics should be enough to tell you that it might be about something a lot darker, and you’d be right to have those suspicions.
The song was written after Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, the original writers of “Grease” read a story in a newspaper about a girl who’d dropped out of beauty school and then gone on to become a teenage murderer. They thought it was fascinating, and so it became the basis of the song. They weren’t trying to insinuate that Frenchie was a murderer – or at least we don’t think they were. “Grease” is full of secret subtext and innuendo, so it’s impossible to know for sure!
“Grease” is an amazing film, but the more you know about it, the more amazing it becomes. We hope you enjoyed these facts, and while you’re thinking about it, you should probably watch the film again sometime soon. No matter how long it’s been, it’s probably been too long!
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