Grease stars smiling in recent headshots

Grease cast tragedies & traumas as we mourn Olivia Newton-John

Grease cast tragedies & traumas as we mourn Olivia Newton-John

Grease was a huge hit when it was released in 1978 and propelled cast members including Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta to fame.

The movie about the romance between Sandy and Danny remains a classic 44 years on and is beloved by film fans.

But behind the scenes there have been several tragedies among the Grease cast over the years.

Olivia Newton-John died earlier this week (Credit: Splash News)

Grease icon Olivia Newton-John

Grease star Olivia, who died this week after a long fight with cancer, experienced tragedy in 2005 when Patrick McDermott – who she was in an on-off relationship with for nine years – mysteriously vanished.

Patrick, who was 48, was on an overnight fishing trip off the Californian coast with several other people.

However, he went missing before the boat returned to shore and the people on board with him didn’t realise.

The mystery has never been solved and, in 2009, Olivia told Australia’s Women’s Weekly: “I don’t think I will ever really be at peace with it.

Cancer can engulf your mind and engulf your being. And I try not to live my life with that in my mind all the time.

“I think there will always be a question mark.”

Olivia also lived with cancer for many years before her death

She was first diagnosed with the illness in 1992 and it returned in 2013 and then again in 2017.

But the star was determined to embrace a positive way of thinking.

Speaking on The Today Show two years ago, she said: “Cancer can engulf your mind and engulf your being. And I try not to live my life with that in my mind all the time.”

john travolta and kelly preston on the red carpet
John lost wife Kelly to cancer (Credit: SplashNews)

John Travolta played Danny

Olivia’s Grease co-star John was also affected by cancer.

In 2020, the actor announced in a moving post on social media that his actress wife Kelly Preston had died after a private two-year battle with breast cancer.

He said: “It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer. She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many.”

“Kelly’s love and life will always be remembered,” he added.

John and Kelly had three children together – daughter Ella Bleu and sons Benjamin and Jett.

Sadly, Jett passed away during a family holiday in 2009 when he was 16, after suffering a seizure.

John later said it was “the worst thing that’s ever happened in my life”.

olivia newton-john and John travolta in black leather
John and Olivia remained friends long after the Grease cameras stopped rolling (Credit: SplashNews)

Kenickie star Jeff Conaway

Jeff, who starred as Kenickie in the movie, waged a long battle with substance abuse issues and spent time in rehab.

There were reports that he hurt his back filming a scene in Grease and that when something later exacerbated the injury, it led to troubles with painkillers.

In 2008, fans were given an insight into his struggle with alcohol and drug addiction when he appeared on the reality show Celebrity Rehab.

In 2011 the actor, who was also in the TV series Taxi, was found unconscious at home and was taken to hospital.

He died days later at the age of 60.

It was later confirmed that Jeff’s death was caused by major internal infection.

Jeff Conaway on the red carpet
Jeff Conaway struggled with addiction (Credit: Splash News)

Annette Charles

US actress and dancer Annette died just months after Jeff aged 63.

The star, who played Charlene “Cha-Cha” DiGregorio in the film, had been battling lung cancer.

She had initially been hospitalised for pneumonia.

Dennis Cleveland Stewart

Dennis is well-known to Grease fans as Leo “Craterface” Balmudo, the leader of the Scorpions gang.

The actor was diagnosed with HIV in 1993.

Read more: John Travel’s heartbreaking birthday tribute to late wife Kelly Preston

Sadly he passed away the following year as a result of complications from AIDS, aged 46.

Grease airs at 5.55pm on Saturday (August 13) on Channel 5.

Who were your favourites from the Grease cast? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think of our story.

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