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Where Is The Cast Of Grease Now?

"Grease" is one of the few musicals that everyone knows the lyrics to, whether they desire such knowledge or not. It's also one of the few, no ... only, musicals that actively teach the audience to become worse versions of themselves if a hot guy wants to hook up, but that's beside the point. 

Bitterness aside, here's a quick rundown for the potentially uninitiated: "Grease" follows the love story of two teens who come from different worlds and want different things. Think "High School Musical" without the Disney filter. It's a simple setup that was easy for non-musical fans to sink their teeth into and because of that, in 1978, the stage production received a movie that skyrocketed it to the stratosphere in terms of popularity, almost literally making grease the word.

Not only did the film cement "Grease" as a permanent facet of pop culture, but it also helped build the careers of a massive pool of actors and actresses. While several cast members — like Jeff Conaway, who starred as Kenickie, Annette Charles, who played Cha-Cha DiGregorio, and Edd Byrnes, who appeared as Vince Fontaine – have passed away in the intervening years, some of the "Grease" performers are still working away in the industry, holding a variety of positions. 

Here's where the cast is now. A note: Aside from a recent burst of articles (such as this one from Miss News) declaring her as aging gracefully, little to nothing is known of Susan Buckner, who played the cheerleader Patty Simcox, these days. So no, she wasn't forgotten — she simply vanished from the public eye entirely.

John Travolta (Danny Zuko) is still making movies as a star performer

It's hard to say what John Travolta, who starred in "Grease" as Danny Zuko aka the head of the T-Birds, is best known for, considering the actor has been integral to so many classic films in the Hollywood catalog over the last five decades. He cashed in his celebrity power to star in a number of action films like "Face/Off" and "Pulp Fiction." He even returned to the musical movie format in 2007 with "Hairspray" for a turn as Edna Turnblad, an agoraphobic mother. Although his status as a blockbuster actor seems to have waned (as suggested by The Ringer), Travolta has continued to consistently star in films and television productions, with no signs of stopping.

Travolta's life took an unfortunate turn in 2020 when his wife of nearly 30 years, Kelly Preston, passed away due to breast cancer, according to People Magazine. Preston's death was not the first familial loss that Travolta experienced, either, having lost his first son, Jett, who suffered a seizure in 2009 (via The Guardian). 

Olivia Newton-John (Sandy Olsson) focused her career on music and activism

Unlike co-star John Travolta, who focused his career around the silver screen, Olivia Newton-John — who played Sandy Olsson, the innocent transfer student who fell for the bad boy — opted for a different trajectory. 

Yes, she continued to act from time to time, such as starring in another movie musical, "Xanadu," as well as a movie and televised series based on the stage play, "Sordid Lives," but her primary aim was to create music. And create music she did, because the four-time Grammy Award-winning singer currently has 26 studio albums, six live albums, 14 compilation albums, and six soundtracks to her name (via Rate Your Music). As recently as May 2022, she tweeted that her music had collectively been streamed almost 256 million times on Pandora alone. Even for a long career such as Newton-John's, that kind of output is astronomical.

Deeply intertwined with Newton-John's music is her long track record of activism. She's performed with UNICEF, canceled an entire tour to protest animal cruelty (via Stripes), and recorded tracks to vocalize her stance on environmentalism (i.e., tracks like "The Promise (The Dolphin Song)"). These are only a handful of examples, but the list goes on and on. Olivia Newton-John's music has also been deeply influenced by her personal health, having struggled with breast cancer on and off for decades (via her interview with Survivor Net). 

So, what's she up to now? Well, according to her 2021 interview with Best Life, she's working with a foundation she created to research and cure cancer. She's also still singing, even if she's done touring. At this point, though, Olivia Newton-John is kind of slowing down to enjoy life with her current husband, John Easterling.

Stockard Channing (Rizzo) juggled Broadway with the small screen

Betty Rizzo, Stockard Channing's role in "Grease," is probably the most popular character in the film. That would explain her People's Choice Award for best supporting actress, at the very least. Unfortunately for Channing, her acclaim, which followed her wherever she went, didn't translate to financially guaranteed projects. That's usually the course for promising new stars that portray the "secondary leads." And yet, she continued to work, simply on a smaller scale, taking her talents to the small screen and Broadway. To date, outside of "Grease," Channing is best known on television for her turn as first lady Abbey Bartlet in "The West Wing," and amongst theatre patrons for her Tony-winning turn in "A Day in The Death of Joe Egg" (via YouTube).

As far as what's she up to now? In 2020, the stage actress said goodbye to her home in Los Angeles, and has now made a full-time home in the United Kingdom (per The Sunday Times), where she's found steady work on the stage of West End. 

Barry Pearl (Doody) and Michael Tucci (Sonny) sing, act, and teach

Filling out the ranks of the T-Birds, Barry Pearl and Michael Tucci played Doody and Sonny, respectively. For the film, both of their roles were shrunk somewhat, but stage fans know that Doody is the adorable dork with a guitar and that Sonny is, well ... pretty much the same, actually. While both actors followed their own paths after "Grease," their careers share similar beats. Both Pearl and Tucci found minor success in movies and slightly more success in television. The two also split their time between Hollywood and Broadway, with Pearl starring in productions such as "Happy Days the Musical" and Tucci starring in "Cabaret." Pearl even returned to "Grease" with the 2017 "Grease Live," where he did a cameo in a smaller, older role.

Lastly, and most recently, they both transitioned into education. Pearl teaches film arts with the Inclusion Film Company, whose mission statement is to focus on building arts knowledge among individuals with developmental disabilities (via Broadway World). He still acts, recently appearing in a 2022 TV film called "That Walls Are Watching." Tucci, on the other hand, pivoted more dramatically by becoming a full-time high school teacher at St. Francis High School in La Cañada, California, as seen in a 2012 article by Crescent Valley Weekly. Now retired from his day job, though, Tucci has returned to the industry, with his most recent credit being a 2018 UMC original series, "The Rich & The Ruthless."

Dinah Manoff (Marty) and Jamie Donnelly (Jan) keep a lower profile

Dinah Manoff and Jamie Donnelly played Marty and Jan, respectively, two members of the Pink Ladies who take in Sandy Olsson. In both of their personal careers, the women split their time between the stage and the screen, with Manoff appearing in the first Chucky movie, "Child's Play," and Donnelly making waves in the American premiere of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" alongside Tim Curry (although not quite enough waves to be asked to return for the filmed version). Donnelly is still active in the industry, with her most recently released film being the 2020 horror film "Souvenirs." She also does acting coaching (via Podplay).

Manoff, for her part, seems to have retired from acting and currently lives in Washington state (via an article she wrote for Publisher's Weekly), with her husband and two remaining children. Recently, in 2017, her eldest son lost his life in a car crash (via The Spokesman Review), an unfortunate reminder that not all loss comes late in life.  

Kelly Ward (Putzie) does more behind the camera than his co-stars have done in front of it

Whenever the T-Birds are listed, often the last name spoken is Putzie. After all, he's a non-singing replacement character for Roger, a T-Bird who appears in the stage musical. And sure, Putzie isn't anything special, but his actor, Kelly Ward, is far from boring. Out of all the T-Birds, Ward's career after "Grease" took the most unique direction. With only 18 acting credits on his IMDb page, Ward focused his time on other facets of the industry, namely, screenwriting and voice direction. In fact, he's written or directed more episodes of television than most actors have ever appeared in.

Currently, Ward works with Disney Television Animation doing what he clearly loves — directing, writing, and casting (though not always at the same time) such productions as "Mickey Mouse Funhouse" and "Chip 'N' Dale: Park Life." 

Didi Conn (Frenchy) is dancing on the ice

Frenchy, aka the Beauty School Dropout, aka the nightmare of every eighties parent, was played by Didi Conn in the 1978 film. Conn's career is on par with most of her co-stars in that she consistently continued to work in the industry in, by and large, smaller roles, specifically in television productions. Notable among her IMDb credits are "Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure," in which she voiced the titular doll, and "Shining Time Station," in which she starred as Stacy Jones. In 2017, she returned to Rydell High in a cameo role for "Grease Live."

These days, she's still grinding away in the performance industry, with her most recent credit being a short film called "The Oh Gees" in 2022, and her most recent notable project being a season of competing in the reality show "Dancing On Ice," where she garnered acclaim for being so active in her late 60s.

Eddie Deezen (Eugene) capitalized on his unforgettable voice

In "Grease," Eugene is the school's most notorious nerd, a title which, for some ridiculous reason, came bundled with intense contempt in the 1980s. In the 1978 film, he was played by Eddie Deezen, who at the time had only just begun his career. Nowadays, though, it's nearly impossible to find a millennial who doesn't recognize the actor's voice, and it has almost nothing to do with his time at Rydell High. 

That's because Deezen found himself a niche in the voice acting industry, by perfecting the ability to emit the nerdiest voice the world has ever known. More specifically, he played Mandark on "Dexter's Laboratory." He was also the Know-It-All from "Polar Express" and literally hundreds of other obnoxious characters (via his IMDb page). That said, outside of acting, Deezen has been arrested a number of times in recent years on charges of trespassing, burglary, and assaulting a police officer (via Page Six).

Frankie Avalon (Teen Angel) and Johnny Contardo (Johnny Casino) are cruising steady in their later years

Frankie Avalon and Johnny Contardo played Teen Angel and Johnny Casino, respectively, two smooth-voiced balladeers who graced "Grease" with their talents in 1978. By the time Rydell High came into his life, Avalon was in his second decade as an actor. For Contardo, though, the film was one of the only IMDb credits he would ever accrue. Some of Avalon's notable acting credits over the years include "Beach Party" and "Casino," in which he portrayed himself. 

Both of these stars, however, are better known for their music. Contardo, for a period of time, was the lead singer of Sha Na Na. Avalon, for his part, was already well-known for "Venus" and other hit songs as a 1950s teen idol (per AllMusic). These days, Avalon still does a few projects here and there, including a 2021 stint on "Dancing with The Stars," but it seems as if he's happily slowed down. After all, the man's been married to the same partner since 1963, and the two have eight children and infinitely more grandchildren (via an interview for VC Star). It's safe to say he's earned the rest. 

As for Contardo, he eventually left Sha Na Na to attempt a solo career. After a hiatus, he returned to singing in 2005 and has been doing small tours at local venues and cruise ships ever since, which he seems to be incredibly happy with (via a 2015 interview with Amped).