In 2019 Julien’s Auctions organized a ‘Grease’ auction. Among the 500 items offered-up for auction were the hot black leather jacket, and skin tight leather pants worn by ‘Sandy,’ in the legendary finale scene. Much of the proceeds were donated to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, created by the actress herself as she has battled breast cancer since 1992. The total sale of those two pieces alone fetched $405,700 dollars, or about 360,000 euros. Spanx founder Sara Blakely bought the pants.
But Olivia Newton-John didn’t stay separated from her leather jacket for long. The buyer who got the jacket for $243,200 returned it to her one month later. The actress and singer screamed with excitement when she finally got to open the box and ruffled through tissue paper to get to the jacket. “You’re the best, you’re the best! I’m so grateful,” Newton-John said, while hugging the jacket and then the buyer. “This is the most beautiful present, but mainly it’s your heart that I’m grateful for.” She seemed thrilled when the buyer asked if she would put it on display in her cancer center. “Yes, it was was always my dream to do that, so yes!” Newton-John said.
The man who had wished to remain anonymous told Olivia Newton-John during a meeting arranged by Julien’s Auctions. “This jacket belongs to you and the collective soul of those who love you, those for whom you are the soundtrack of their lives. It should not sit in a billionaire’s closet for country club bragging rights,” It was a good deed that moved the actress to tears.
Henry Winkler, who became a sensation as “Fonzie” on Happy Days (1974), was considered for the role of Danny Zuko. He turned down the role for fear of being typecast. Besides, Winkler has readily confessed to being unable to sing, a talent that would have been essential for playing the role of Danny. Deep Throat (1972) star Harry Reems was originally cast as the coach. Paramount Pictures eventually gave the role to Sid Caesar, as protests over Reems’ past porn roles were threatening this movie’s success.
Lucie Arnaz was the first choice for the role of Rizzo. She was allegedly dropped from consideration when her mother, Lucille Ball, called Paramount Pictures and said, “I used to own that studio! My daughter’s not doing a screentest!” Ball owned Desilu, which Paramount Studios bought. Casting Director Marion Dougherty remembered seeing Stockard Channing with Arnaz and Sandy Duncan in the play “Vanities” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, California. Carrie Fisher was also considered for the role of Sandy. Director Randal Kleiser went to the Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) mixing stage to visit his college roommate, George Lucas, and to see her in one of the battle scenes. Kleiser couldn’t tell from the scene whether Fisher was right for the part, so he kept looking.
Originally, Sandy was not supposed to participate in the dance contest at all. She was supposed to be sidetracked and subdued by Sonny before the contest even started, allowing Cha Cha to jump in and take her place and win the contest. But Dame Olivia Newton-John was anxious to do some dancing in the movie, even though she was not a professionally trained dancer like John Travolta. So she convinced Director Randal Kleiserto let her dance with Danny in the contest for a few minutes, and then for Sonny to jump in and subdue her a few minutes later.
After the BBC aired the movie in Dec. 2020, viewers complained on social media that the film promoted misogyny, racism and homophobia, according to Britain’s The Times. Soon after, co-star Olivia Newton-John said during an interview on the Australian podcast “A Life of Greatness” that those who criticize “Grease” and say it is sexist and lacking in diversity need to “relax a little bit” and called those comments “kind of silly.” She added, “The movie was made in the ’70s about the ’50s. It’s a fun movie musical and not to be taken so seriously. I think everyone is taking everything so seriously. We need to relax a little bit and just enjoy things for what they are.” Newton-John went on to say she doesn’t view “Grease” in the way her critics do, and that “it’s just a fun movie that entertains people. That’s all.”