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‘Grease’ Stars Remember How John Travolta And The Late Olivia Newton-John Were On Set

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When Grease was released 45 years ago, no one thought it would have the dedicated generation-spanning audience it has now, largely because of the mixed reviews the movie got from critics and cast. Dinah Manoff, who played Marty, talked about the film’s reception.

“There was a huge ad campaign that [producer] Alan Carr had set up where we went city to city, but the movie itself was being called too camp and criticized for not being like the play,” she revealed. However, it was a memorable experience for most of the cast as they reminisced on the memories in an interview with The Guardian.

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Olivia Newton-John was humble on the set of ‘Grease’ despite her fame

GREASE, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, 1978. © Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection

Sadly, Olivia Newton-John died on 8th August 2022, but she will be forever remembered by the Grease cast and devoted fans worldwide as a sweet and loving person. “I was a little starstruck by the whole thing since Olivia had all these No 1 songs and specials on TV already. She was so humble, though, and we all really respected and loved each other,” Didi Conn, who played Frenchy, recalled. “She was nervous just like the rest of us on the first day of shooting, and she even said to tell her if there were any ways she could improve her acting.

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Jamie Donnelly (Pink Lady Jan) reaffirmed Conn’s statement about Olivia’s humility, “You had to love Olivia. She was just such a good person. She was very modest about acting, because it was new to her. She was pretty much the sweetheart that you saw on screen and anything but a diva. John was so sexy and charismatic, whereas your heart went out to Olivia, and you cared about her.”

GREASE, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, 1978. © Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection

John Travolta has “Magic”

Although John had just starred in three movies before Grease, his cast mates knew he was going to be famous. “I met John for the first time shooting The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. I knew then that he was a star,” Kelly Ward (T-Bird member Putzie) recalled. “Certain people, when you’re with them, you can see the magnetism that the camera loves. He has that magic.”

“John was sizzling hot at the time. They had guards keeping the fans away at the gates since he was like a rock star,” Manoff revealed. Despite his fame at that time, and unaware of the popularity Grease was going to bring, John made sure to establish friendships with his castmates.

GREASE, John Travolta, 1978. (c) Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

“John said to us: ‘I did this little movie in Brooklyn, and I really don’t know if it’s any good. Would you guys come and take a look?’ We all went over to a screening room, thinking it was going to be nothing,” Conn recounted. “As soon as it was over, we turned to him and said: ‘John, it’s amazing. You’re gonna be a big movie star.’ But he had no idea.”

Grease‘s casting director Joel Thurm, revealed that since his first encounter with John, he knew the actor was destined for greatness. “I had known John since he was 17 and from the moment he walked into my office, I knew he would do well,” he said. “He was an incredibly good-looking boy with wonderful eyes and had such poise at such a young age.”

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