How Old Was The Cast Of "Grease"?

I caught a little bit of the 1978 musical-movie Grease on television the other day. It's about a bunch of seniors in high school in 1950s California. Since I work with teenagers in my real life, I was surprised at how mature everyone in the cast looked! If you, like I, have ever wondered how old they all were when the movie came out, wonder no more!

In 1978...
Jeff Conaway (Kenickie) was 28
Barry Pearl (Doody) was 28
Michael Tucci (Sonny) was 32
Kelly Ward (Putzie) was 22

Pink Ladies
Stockard Channing (Rizzo) was 34
Didi Conn (Frenchie) was 27
Jaime Donnelly (Jan) was 31
Dinah Manoff (Marty) was 20

Dennis Steward (Leo) was 31
Annette Charles (Cha Cha) was 30

John Travolta (Danny) was 24
Olivia Newton-John (Sandy) was 30
A little far from typical 17-18 year-old seniors in high school. Although, it's not unusual for Hollywood to cast young adults as teenagers (I would imagine it'd be hard to find the talent that young?), but it seems like 1978 standards were a little looser than 2010!

Take, for example, a sampling of the cast of the 2008's High School Musical 3: Senior Year:

In 2008...
Zac Efron (Troy) was 21
Vanessa Hudgens (Gabriella) was 20

Lucas Gabreel (Ryan) was 24
Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay) was 23

Corbin Bleu (Chad) was 19
Monique Coleman (Taylor) was 28
I guess the talent's getting younger? Or it could have just been a directorial choice to have such "adult" looking high schoolers for Grease, I suppose!


  1. Back in the day, it could go the other way. In Gone With the Wind (1939), the actress who played Scarlett's mother was only four years older than Vivian Leigh. In Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), George M. Cohan (James Cagney) was 44; his wife Mary (Joan Leslie) was only 18. Amazingly, the actress who played Cohan's mother (Rosemary DeCamp) was actually eleven years younger than her "son"! Perhaps you could get away with a lot more in black and white films.

    1. it doesn't really matter they were all good movies, its hollywood and they can make 16 year old look like 70 something. What difference does it really make how old cast is, its the talents, its the intelligence that matters. Its the putting all they into it, to make it work. I love Grease its awesome music and tell ya "IT COULD NEVER HAPPEN WITHOUT ROCK n ROLL"

  2. I don't ever think they should ever try to remake this movie, they would just mess it up...

  3. I've never actually watched this movie since i can't stand musicals, but I agree -- the characters look WAY old! I'd say 35-40!!!

  4. My 12 yr old says it's one of her favorite movies. I always liked it. Even though the actors are all too old to pass for high school the movie still worked. Maybe even better than it would have with different younger actors

  5. Rizzo LOOKS 34 in that movie.

    1. she does not!!!

    2. No she doesn't!!! She looks the part, they all do

    3. Yes she does! They looked more like teachers than high school students.

  6. Sonny is the best, cause he don't take no carp from nobody!

  7. They all look good, and it was a great movie

  8. In 1978, my mom took me to see Grease and she complained that Stockard Channing was way too old to play Rizzo.

  9. I was 17 in 1978 and I remember thinking they were all way too old. But now I'm watching it on TV and they all look sooo young!!!! :)

  10. I think the only one that didn't look like a teenager was Cha Cha and her boyfriend

  11. i think at the time I first ever saw the film so like I was under 10 they looked the right ages but as ive grown up now being 17 I do notice that some of the cast do look slightly older than they are meant to be but I do agree that cha cha looks the oldest and tbh Rizzo looks older. if you have seen the classic pic of sandy and danny, sandy looks so much older than danny, like a lot older. I think its different tbh whoever you are and whatever age you are watching it from... :)

  12. Most of them look like they could be parents. Waaay too old to be playing teens. I hate how they do that in movies.

  13. I think people from that time , all looked older anyways... Teenagers now look older and act older then they are... This is and always will be my favorite movie

  14. Omg I just love this movie. Rizzo is my favorite. I think all the people fit all the characters. To each its on. I've watched this since I was a little girl. I think they all looked good

  15. No she doesn’t.
    Stockard Channing is gorgeous and she is one of my most favorite actors.
    I think she looks fabulous in Grease.
    She definitely doesn’t look 34 in the movie.