There's still a whole lot that wannabe T-Birds and Pink Ladies don't know about the film.
Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey wrote the original 1971 stage production using an urban Chicago high school as inspiration — and they didn't leave out any profanity or raunchy teenage antics. The musical got its name from the 1950s penchant for greasy hair, greasy engines, and greasy food.
Movie big shot Allan Carr hosted "Rolodex parties"— inviting the A-L guest list one night, the M-Z one the next — and even held an event in an abandoned Los Angeles jail, according to . The producer saw the Tony-nominated play and realized that a toned-down version of Danny and Sandy's romance would be perfect for film. But his Paramount boss brushed him off, so Carr got just $6 million to make it.
Paramount originally wanted Happy Days star Henry Winkler as the leading man, but the actor was worried about being typecast so he bowed out.
Director Randal Kleiser roomed with George Lucas in college and watched dailies of Star Wars to see if Carrie could be a fit.
The wholesome singer definitely suited the role, but Osmond, who was raised Mormon, objected to Sandy's bad girl transformation so she declined.
Her daughter Lucie Arnaz was the first choice for Rizzo, but Ball refused to let her audition for the promiscuous troublemaker role.
Allan Carr also imagined the greaser working at a gas station, singing a song called "Gas Pump Jockey."
Carr picked country-singer Olivia Newton-John for the part after sitting across from her at a dinner party. The Melbourne native couldn't do an American accent, so they rewrote the part and changed Sandy's last name from "Dumbrowski" to "Olsson."
He played the role of Danny Zuko on Broadway (along with Richard Gere and Patrick Swayze!) but got the sidekick role of Kenickie in the film.
Newton-John worried about the seven-year age gap between her and costar John Travolta, but the 29-year-old wasn't the oldest member of the cast. Stockard Channing was 33, and another Pink Lady, Jamie Donnelly (who played Jan), had premature gray hair. They both passed the "crow's-feet test" during auditions, though, and cinematographer Bill Butler used soft lenses to turn back the clock.
Danny's windbreaker at the beginning of the movie was a nod to James Dean's character in Rebel Without a Cause.
Carr originally imagined the surf rock quartet doing "Greased Lightnin'."
The garage number belongs to Kenickie in the stage version — it is about his car, after all! But Travolta apparently wanted the solo and nabbed it for himself.
In the play, the gang called themselves the "Burger Palace Boys" after their favorite diner hangout.
Unfortunately, the King passed away during filming so the role went to Frankie Avalon.
Avalon had an intense fear of heights, so the slippery, three-story staircase didn't seem so dreamy after all. They almost cut the number but ended up putting mattresses alongside the steps.
The school dance took two weeks to film, and temperatures topped 100 degrees in the windowless gym. A couple extras even came down with heat-related illnesses. And actor Michael Tucci, who played T-Bird Sonny LaTierri, fainted and had to be taken to the E.R.
The fair was only in town for the day, so most of the grand finale was shot in 24 hours. The director created reproductions of the rides to shoot more close-ups later on.
The Today show's Gene Shalit deemed it "visual junk food," the New Yorker called it a "klutzburger," and the New York Daily News's reviewer said it "should really be covered on the obituary page."
The best-selling soundtrack landed four songs in the Billboard Top 10 and the film grossed nearly $400 million. It was the highest-grossing movie musical of all time until it Mamma Mia! in 2008.
Carr proposed a sequel called Summer School focusing on Kenickie and Rizzo's wedding. Instead, Grease 2 flipped the plot and starred Michelle Pfeiffer as the leader of the Pink Ladies. The 1982 release had twice the budget of the original but totally flopped, earning only $15 million at the box office. Plans for a Grease franchise, including three more movies and a TV series, were put on hold.
FOX's airs this Sunday, January 31. Dancer Julianne Hough stars as Sandy and Les Mis actor Aaron Tveit will be Danny Zuko. Vanessa Hudgens and Carlos PenaVega join in as Rizzo and Kenickie.