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Daily Record
Daily Record
Sam Huntley & Siobhan Macdonald

Grease cast now - tragic deaths, drug addiction and 30-year cancer battle

Dame Olivia Newton-John will go down in movie history after her legendary performance as Sandy in Grease which cemented her place as a global icon.

Tragically, the beloved actress died after a long-term battle with breast cancer at the age of 73 on Monday, August 8, surrounded by her family at her California ranch. Her best known performance in Grease saw her play good-girl-gone-bad Sandy, as she fell in love with handsome greaser Danny Zuko, who was played by John Travolta.

The film first hit cinemas in June 16, 1978, and has remained one of the most beloved romantic comedy films of all time, becoming the highest-grossing musical film ever at the time. Now, as hundreds of fans remember Olivia, lets takes a look at what happened to her co-stars in the years since the film was released, as reported in the Daily Star.

John Travolta (Danny Zuko)

John Travolta, who plays hunk Danny, is arguably the biggest star to come from Grease - shooting to fame with Saturday Night Fever the year before. Since continuing his hot streak of success with Grease, the 68-year-old has become one of Hollywood's top stars with decades in the industry.

Hollywood star John Travolta shot to fame before playing Danny in Grease (Getty)

Despite entering the "Hollywood wilderness" during the 1980s as his career declined, he returned to stardom with 1994's Pulp Fiction. He's starred in big hits like Hairspray, Wild Hogs, and From Paris With Love and he's won impressive critical acclaim for his work on Netflix hit, The People v. O. J. Simpson.

He won his first Primetime Emmy Award as a producer on the crime series and additional Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his acting as lawyer Robert Shapiro. Grease fans will also be delighted to hear Danny and Sandy reunited in real life too as John teamed up with musician Olivia Newton-John for a Christmas album in 2012.

John and Olivia even joined forces again when they reunited in Los Angeles for a 40th anniversary screening of Grease. While John has enjoyed a glittering career, his personal life has been far from the Hollywood dream and has been filled with tragedy.

In 2009, his son Jett died at the age of 16 while on holiday in the Bahamas after a seizure. And in 2020, on July 12, John's wife Kelly Preston died just two years after she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in secret.

Olivia Newton-John (Sandy)

Olivia Newton John tragically passed away aged 73 (Getty)

Australian singer Olivia was already a big country music star before entering the cast of Grease and she was reluctant to play a high-schooler - as she turned 29 during the filming process! However, the decision proved to be a great one. In May 2017 it was announced her breast cancer had returned and spread to her lower back. She also revealed she had secretly battled the disease in 2013, too.

However, in March 2018 Olivia, who is now an advocate for breast cancer research, updated her fans saying she felt "really good". Sadly, on August 8, 2022, Olivia's family confirmed she had died peacefully at her home in California, surrounded by her family.

Jeff Conaway (Kenickie)

Jeff, who actually played Danny in the original stage version of Grease, went on to enjoy huge television success in shows such as Taxi and Happy Days. Although his career seemed to peak after his role as Danny's best friend Kenickie in the hit film, he kept appearing in TV shows such as Babylon 5.

Jeff suffered from drug addiction and died at the age of 60 from pneumonia in 2011 (Getty)

Unfortunately, he suffered from drug addiction issues and was reportedly addicted to cocaine, alcohol and painkillers - he also revealed he suffered a back injury on the set of Grease while filming the Greased Lightning scene, and had turned to substances to manage the pain.

Jeff was previously married to Olivia Newton-John's older sister Rona for five years. In 2011, he sadly died at the age of 60 after suffering pneumonia.

Stockard Channing (Rizzo)

Stockard, 78, played cynical Pink Lady gang leader Rizzo, but, after Grease wrapped, she went on to pursue an incredibly successful acting career on the stage.

Broadway star Stockard won a 2004 Emmy Award for her role in Jack (Getty)

The star was nominated for an Oscar for her work on Six Degrees of Separation, and she has won a show-stopping streak of awards including a 1985 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for Broadway show, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.

She also earned herself a 2004 Emmy Award for her role in Jack, and notably played First lady Abbey Bartlett in The West Wing for seven years. More recently, Broadway star Channing appeared in The Good Wife and is a regular on the US theatre circuit.

Barry Pearl (Doody)

Barry played T-Bird funnyman Doody, who ends up pairing with aspiring beautician and Pink Lady Frenchy at the school dance.

Barry played hilarious goof Doody in Grease (Getty)

Although Doody may remain 72-year-old Barry's most iconic role, the actor went on to appear in major shows such as House, Beverly Hills 90210, Criminal Minds, ER, and Murder She Wrote.

He even reunited with his co-star Didi Conn (who played Frenchy) when he graced the stage in the cameo role of Mr Weaver on Grease: Live - a FOX special in 2016.

Didi Conn (Frenchy)

Didi, who played Frenchy in the movie, went on to appear in a whole host of TV and film projects including Cagney & Lacey, Transparent, Happy Days, The Wild Thornberrys and Grease 2 where she reprised her beloved role.

Didi appeared on Dancing on Ice in 2019 as the oldest contestant ever (Getty)

In January 2016, the 71-year-old became the only actress to appear in all three screen adaptations of the Grease franchise after she took on a cameo as Vi in Grease: Live alongside her co-star Barry. In 2019, she even joined ITV's Dancing on Ice for series 11 as the oldest contestant in the show's history - making it to week four before being eliminated.

Kelly Ward (Putzie)

Kelly played blonde T-bird Putzie, who develops a relationship with Pink Lady member Jan over the course of the film.

Actor Kelly has enjoyed a successful screenwriting career and teaches musical theatre (Getty)

After his famous Grease role, 65-year-old Kelly decided to pursue a career behind the camera and currently works as a voice director for Disney Television Animation, having directed voice work in projects like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

He's even got screenwriting credits on TV shows like Horrible Histories, Crime Time, Fantastic Max and Trollz among plenty of others. He's also an academic, teaching musical theatre at the University of Southern California.

Jamie Donnelly (Jan)

Jamie played the quirky character of Jan - a Pink Ladies girl who had a particular fondness for sweets. The star, 75, has flexed her acting muscles on Can't Hardly Wait, Veep, Ray Donovan and Cyrus.

Jamie starred alongside Johnny Depp in major film Black Mass in 2015 (Getty)

Jamie, who has turned her talents to teaching, is currently an acting coach who lives with her husband and two children in California. But she's still had her fair share of major projects since finishing Grease, as she starred with Johnny Depp in the movie Black Mass in 2015.

Michael Tucci (Sonny LaTierri)

Michael starred in Chicago playing the character of Amos (Getty)

Michael played the troublesome womaniser-wannabe of the T-Birds gang, Sonny, who tries and fails to court Marty during the film. The 76-year-old actor went on to star in a string of TV roles including The Paper Chase and It's Garry Shandling's Show before taking to the stage with Chicago as the character of Amos - Roxy Hart's husband.

He also played Dick Van Dyke's pal and hospital administrator Norman Briggs for four seasons of Diagnosis: Murder, and Melissa McCarthy's dad in The Heat in 2013. He currently teaches at St Francis High School in California.

Dinah Manoff (Marty Maraschino)

Dinah, 66, played the gorgeous Pink Ladies member Marty, whose attractiveness regularly attracts the attention of older men in the movie.

Star Dinah won a Tony Award for her role in I Ought to Be in Pictures (Getty)

The star won a Tony Award for her work in I Ought to Be in Pictures, and she has gone on to appear in a variety of television shows and films. Manoff has featured in movies including Welcome Home, Child's Play and Ordinary People.

A mother-of-three, Manoff has been married twice and currently lives with her realtor husband Arthur Mortell after the couple tied the knot in 1997. She has not had any acting credits since 2008, but Manoff clearly still loves Grease and has regularly attended Grease-related events over the years.

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