'Summer Loving' may answer many questions about 'Grease', but did you know the secrets that the stars tried to hide from us?

'Summer Loving' may answer many questions about 'Grease', but did you know the secrets that the stars tried to hide from us?
John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John on the set of movie 'Grease' (Source : IMDB)

The summer of 1958 has a special place in our hearts, thanks to the beautiful love story between Danny and Sandy, portrayed by the irreplaceable John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The young stars left a huge mark in our hearts and over four decades down the line, it is still considered one of the pivotal moments in how teenage love is depicted in Hollywood.  

We will soon be revisiting their love story, which began with a summer romance, thanks to Paramount. Titled ‘Summer Loving,’ the prequel will supposedly “tell us more, tell us more,” regarding Danny and Sandy’s first meeting. Even as we prepare to learn more about their past, there is lot that happened on the sets of ‘Grease’ that was hidden from the outside world. 

However, for everything that met the eye in the original film, there was a lot more that was hidden. In celebration of the movie's 40th year anniversary, we have compiled some of the best-kept secrets from the sets of 'Grease' to see the 1978 smash musical for what it was. 


John Travolta tried to make the set a hotbed for Scientology  

While shooting for 'Grease,' the leading man John had only recently discovered the controversial religion of Scientology and he tried to get the others on board as well. Recollecting a very specific incident, director Randal Kleiser spoke about how his hero tried to cure a foot infection with "touch assist" method.  

According to Randal, who had acquired the foot infection from dirty water during a drag race scene, “I was lying there with this fever and he’s poking me and poking me and poking me and I’m like, ‘Yes, I feel it.’ ‘Thank you.’ Then he left. The next day I was better, and of course he claimed it was because of the touch assist.” 


Carrie Fisher almost played Sandy 

The late great Carrie Fischer was almost cast as the leading lady of 'Grease' (Created by Aswin Madhulal)

Yeah, you read that right! Princess Leia could have been the goody-two-shoes Sandy to Travolta's bad boy Danny in the smash hit. After keeping it a secret for many, many years, Randal revealed a couple of years back that thanks to his friendship with George Lucas, he had nearly cast Carrie in his musical.

"George Lucas was my roommate in college. He was mixing the tracks for Star Wars, so I went over to see him and look at some of the footage. I couldn't tell if she was good for a musical, because all I saw was her hair," he revealed.  


The sexual innuendos were always there, the viewers just did not catch on fast enough 

'Grease' is considered a classic, clean romance from the good old days. But, you did not even pay attention to some of the dirty lyrics from that musical. They weren't there by accident either. I mean, come on, you think "You are supreme, the chicks'll cream for Greased Lightning" and "Fongool, I'm Sandra Dee!" were intended to be clean?  


According to Urban Dictionary, Fongool is an Italian phrase that translates to "go do it in the a**" or more colloquially speaking "f**k you."  


Even Randal revealed during an interview: "People don't really listen to the lyrics. They just hear the music. Most people who watch it as a kid don't pick up on all the sexual innuendos, but parents are often shocked when their kids sing the lyrics out loud. It's pretty raunchy." 

Sandy's signature look was pure torture for Olivia Newton-John  

The iconic tight black leather pants that Olivia wore for the finale carnival scene was torture for the actress. In fact, it was so tight the zipper broke and she had to be sewn into them for a week.   


"Believe me, I had to be very careful about what I ate and drank. It was excruciating… It was 106 degrees on the set for the carnival finale," she confessed years later. We don't know if it was worth all the trouble she went through, but she sure as hell looked beautiful. 


Paramount refused to give porn star Harry Reems a role 

The prominent 70s and 80s porn star Harry is best known for cult adult films such as 'Deep Throat', 'The Devil in Miss Jones.' He was supposed to have a role in 'Grease' — considering he had a legitimate theatre background before going into porn - as Coach Calhoun, a role that subsequently went to Sid Caesar.  

As it turns out, Paramount Pictures, which distributed the film was adamant on keeping the porn star out, as they feared his reputation would negatively influence the box office in the Southern United States. 

John stole a musical number for co-star Jeff Conaway from right under her nose

Despite being the leading man and having the lion's share of lines and songs, John successfully snatched the big 'Grease Lightnin' number, which was meant to be performed by Jeff's character, Kenickie.   

“I have to be completely honest with you,” John said in a revelation made years later, “I wanted the number. And because I had clout, I could get the number.” 

Jeff received a lot of.. Umm... comfort from the ladies 

Stockard Channing, who played Danny's former fling Betty Rizzo in the musical film, revealed that Jeff, despite this admittedly huge loss, managed to stay happy, thanks to some great company. Many women who heard about how Jeff was cheated off his solo number, went into his trailer and "comforted" him. 


In Stockhard's words, “He was really feeling his oats. We used to joke all the time, because his trailer at lunchtime was really rocking.” Well, we know who was the biggest chick magnet on the sets now! 

Jeff also doled out his own "gifts" to on-screen partner. Turns out, the hickies that Betty is so worried about in the film were real and was given to her by none other than Jeff! 

Dinah Manoff completely lacked rhythm and could not dance... AT ALL 

Despite the film being one of the most iconic musicals of all times, one of the primary cast members could not dance, like at all. Dinah, who played the role of Marty Maraschino, a member of the Pink Ladies whose attractiveness regularly draws the attention of men, including Sonny and Vince Fontaine, totally lacked rhythm. 

If you go back and watch the film again, you will notice that there is not a single scene in which Dinah is dancing.  

Jeff's dark journey to drug addiction began on the sets of 'Grease' 

Allegedly the movie sets took more from the second lead that it gave him. Jeff, who met with an accident while filming for 'Grease,' was prescribed painkillers and he was unable to kick off the habit later on. It was while shooting that he allegedly developed his well-documented drug problems.  


Jeff Conaway arrives at the 6th annual 'TV Land Awards' held at Barker Hangar on June 8, 2008 in Santa Monica, California. (Getty Images)

Jeff, who was featured on Season 1 and Season 2 of 'Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,' died of an overdose of substances believed to be pain medication on May 11, 2011. After the first season of the show, Jeff was able to maintain sobriety from alcohol and cocaine but continued to abuse analgesics for his back pain.  

Mid-second season, which had premiered on October 23, 2008, Jeff was kicked off of the show after kicking his girlfriend in the ribs during an argument. Allegedly he got back to abusing painkillers again after this stint. This habit continued until his death in 2011. 



Leading stars were way too old to play teenagers and had to hide their true ages in inventive ways

Jamie Donnelly, who played the role of Jan, a quirky member of the Pink Ladies, whose most significant character description was an inkling for Ipana toothpaste, was way too old to play a teenager. In fact, the makeup department had to dye her grey hair to make her look much younger.   

Now, this is not very uncommon in Hollywood. Stockard too, had to get some help to look younger. This did not always have the best outcomes. As the actress recalled a couple of years back, "[Paramount Pictures executive] Allan [Carr] showed up on the set with a brown pencil and started dotting freckles on my nose so I would look younger... I said, 'I don't look younger! I just look dirtier!'" 


Even Olivia – who was 29 at the time - was worried about looking older than her on-screen lover John, who was a much younger 23 years old back then. 

Director Randal also recalled getting up-close and personal to ensure these adults looked passable as teenagers, "I would get up close to them and see if they had any crow's-feet around their eyes, and that would show they were beyond the surreal age that we had determined would work. High-school kids could not have crow's-feet." 


Share this article:  Grease 40th anniversary Olivia Newton John Travolta