The Grease cast – Where are they now?

The 1978 hit musical movie just lost another one of its stars, Susan Buckner, who starred alongside Olivia Newton-John

Inga Parkel
Wednesday 08 May 2024 17:47 BST
Grease trailer

It’s been over 45 years since the cast of Grease boogied across our screens, bringing us some of the greatest musical hits, including “You’re The One That I Want”, “Summer Nights”, “Beauty School Dropout” and more.

Since then, several of the key cast members have passed away, including Olivia Newton-John and Jeff Conway.

With the recent loss of Susan Buckner, who played Sandy’s (Newton-John) cheerleader friend Patty Simcox, we take a look back at the stars of the 1978 hit musical movie and see where they are now.

John Travolta (Danny Zuko)

John Travolta as Danny Zuko in ‘Grease’
John Travolta as Danny Zuko in ‘Grease’ ( Paramount Pictures/Getty Images)

By the time Travolta starred as charismatic greaser Danny Zuko, he was already a rising star thanks to his breakout role in the Seventies sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter and his leading role in the 1977 dance musical Saturday Night Fever. He’s since gone on to have a lucrative acting career, appearing in 1989’s family comedy Look Who’s Talking alongside the late Kirstie Alley, Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 Pulp Fiction and the 2007 remake of Hairspray.

At 70, Travolta is semi-retired. Although, he recently starred in the new action-adventure movie Cash Out and its forthcoming sequel, Cash Out 2: High Rollers. Meanwhile, it was announced in November that Travolta had been cast opposite Katherine Heigl in the forthcoming musical romcom That’s Amore!.

Olivia Newton-John (Sandy Olsson)

Olivia Newton-John as Sandy in ‘Grease’
Olivia Newton-John as Sandy in ‘Grease’ (Paramount Pictures/Getty Images)

Years after Newton-John made her screen debut in 1965’s family musical Funny Things Happen Down Under, she landed the role of Sandy in Grease, which made her a household name. While managing to make some time for brief cameos in shows like Ryan Murphy’s Glee, the Australian native mainly pursued music, releasing a total of 26 studio albums.

Before her death from breast cancer in 2022, aged 73, Newton-John was involved in numerous humanitarian causes, mainly involving animal welfare. She also became an advocate for various cancer charities following her own diagnosis.

Stockard Channing (Rizzo)

Stockard Channing as Betty Rizzo in ‘Grease'
Stockard Channing as Betty Rizzo in ‘Grease' (Paramount Pictures/Getty Images)

Well known for her portrayal of defiant and tough Rizzo, the leader of The Pink Ladies in Grease, Channing has continued to make her mark in powerful female roles. In the popular TV drama The West Wing she played fictional US First Lady Abbey Bartlet, for which she won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. The now-80-year-old more recently made a brief appearance in an episode of the Max drama Julia, about the famous American chef Julia Childs.

Jeff Conway (Kenickie)

Jeff Conaway as Kenickie in ‘Grease’
Jeff Conaway as Kenickie in ‘Grease’ (Paramount Pictures/Grease)

Conway had already played Kenickie, Danny’s best friend, in the stage version of Grease before being cast in the film adaptation. He later joined the cast of the five-season sitcom Taxi as struggling actor Bobby Wheeler.

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Conway died of a drug overdose in 2011. He was 60.

Didi Conn (Frenchy)

Didi Conn as Frenchy in ‘Grease’
Didi Conn as Frenchy in ‘Grease’ (Paramount Pictures/Getty Images)

After her portrayal of bubbly Frenchy in Grease, Conn went on to use her star power for good, joining Autism Speaks as its spokesperson following her son’s autism diagnosis.

Now 72, she’s maintained a light on-screen presence, making minor appearances in CBS’s Blue Bloods in 2022 and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit back in 2010.

Barry Pearl (Doody)

Barry Pearl as Doody in ‘Grease’
Barry Pearl as Doody in ‘Grease’ (Paramount Pictures/Getty Images)

Pearl played Doody, one of Danny’s posse who donned the famous T-Bird leather jacket. After the success of the movie, he made notable appearances in TV shows, including Murder She Wrote, Beverly Hills, 90210 and the medical drama House. Pearl, now 72, eventually brought his musical talent to Broadway in the 2011 musical Baby It’s You!.

Dinah Manoff (Marty Maraschino)

Dinah Manoff as Marty in ‘Grease’
Dinah Manoff as Marty in ‘Grease’ (Paramount Pictures/Getty Images)

Manoff made her film debut in Grease, starring as Marty. But that was only the beginning for her, as she later featured in the 1988 horror mystery Child’s Play, two episodes of the iconic TV show The Golden Girls and more. She even found her way into directing, helming an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, several instalments of Empty Nest and an episode of Minor Adjustments.

Manoff, 72, has since stepped away from screen roles with 2008’s romcom Bart Got a Room being her last credit.

Dennis Cleveland Stewart (Leo aka ‘Craterface’)

Dennis Cleveland Stewart as Leo in ‘Grease’
Dennis Cleveland Stewart as Leo in ‘Grease’ (Paramount Plus)

Stewart was only 46 when he died in 1994 due to complications from Aids. His passing marked one of the first major deaths of the main Grease cast.

He was best known for his portrayal of Leo, aka “Craterface”, the leader of the Scorpions, the rival gang to Danny’s T-Birds. Before his death, the actor and dancer had roles in the 1978 movie musical Sgt and an episode of MacGyver.

Kelly Ward (Putzie)

Kelly Ward as Putzie in ‘Grease'
Kelly Ward as Putzie in ‘Grease' (Paramount Pictures/Getty Images)

Since starring as Putzie in Grease, Ward, 67, has mostly turned his focus on working behind the camera. Besides his small roles in Magnum, PI and MASH, the rest of his TV credits come from his work as a voice director for children’s animated television shows. Some of the shows he’s worked on include Disney’s Mickey Mouse Funhouse, Curious George and Chill Out, Scooby-Doo!.

He also works as a musical theatre professor at the University of Southern California.

Susan Buckner (Patty Simcox)

Susan Buckner as Patty Simcox in ‘Grease’
Susan Buckner as Patty Simcox in ‘Grease’ (Paramount Pictures/Getty Images)

Before she got into acting, Buckner was a beauty pageant queen, crowned Miss Washington in 1971 and a top ten finalist in Miss America 1972. In Grease, she played Patty Simcox, one of Sandy’s cheerleading friends in the cult musical classic.

Buckner went on to star in several TV shows, including The Love BoatB.J and the BearThe Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, and When the Whistle Blows. She starred in the 1981 Wes Craven horror film Deadly Blessingalongside Sharon Stone and in 1989’s Police Academy 6: City Under Siege.

In her later years, she directed children’s theatre and taught dance at a gym in Florida.

Buckner died on 2 May surrounded by family, her publicist said in a statement. A cause of death has not yet been shared. She was 72.

Michael Tucci (Sonny LaTierri)

Michael Tucci as Sonny in ‘Grease’
Michael Tucci as Sonny in ‘Grease’ (Paramount Pictures/Getty Images)

Tucci was the second-oldest cast member of Grease. He was 31 when he was cast to play the 18-year-old Sonny. He later went on to appear in the 1985 limited drama The Insiders as well as the sitcom Flying Blind. He also spent 15 years teaching Fine Arts and Theatre Arts to California high schoolers. The now-retired teacher, 78, most recently starred in six episodes of the TV drama The Rich and the Ruthless.

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