Elvis Presley and a '70s pop icon were originally meant to play the Teen Angel in Grease

6 July 2022, 16:58

Elvis Presley almost starred in Grease
Elvis Presley almost starred in Grease. Picture: Alamy/Paramount

By Tom Eames

Grease became a monster hit at the worldwide box office upon its release in 1978, and it harked back to the glory days of rock and roll in the 1950s.

The film referenced and even starred a couple of former teen idols in supporting roles: Edd Byrnes played the DJ Vince Fontaine, while Frankie Avalon appeared as the Teen Angel.

But there were a couple of other music legends that almost played the latter character, and we'd love to have seen what they would have done in a parallel universe.

Elvis Presley was originally considered for the Teen Angel role.

Donny Osmond in the 1970s
Donny Osmond in the 1970s. Picture: Getty

At the time, Elvis was in his 40s - and while he was still performing to thousands of people in Las Vegas, his health had been deteriorating.

However, he turned down the offer from producers. It had been a while since Elvis had done films, and perhaps if he wasn't the main star then Colonel Tom Parker wouldn't be keen.

Another star who had been considered by Frankie Avalon won the role, was actual teenager Donny Osmond.

Grease producer and writer Allan Carr had reportedly imagined Donny in the role - which would make some sense as he was a teen heartthrob at the time, and as the 'Teen Angel' he would appeal to the character of Frenchie more than an older star.

Funnily enough, Donny's sister Marie Osmond was also considered for the role of Sandy but turned it down, ultimately leading to Olivia Newton-John landing the part.

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“Initially the script came to me, and the script was much edgier then what Olivia came up with," she said. "But I was at a place in my life where I wanted to have children and I didn’t like the fact that the girl had to turn bad to get the guy.

"I think the guy has to work hard to get the girl, that’s what I believe. I don’t think we’re the ones that need to change.

"I think women’s hearts – that divine feminine within us – God gave us that to know what’s right and wrong, to perceive the needs of a child, we know and so I learned to respect that or not dismiss it.”

There was also a strange quirk involving Elvis. The King of Rock & Roll passed away during the filming of Grease in 1977.

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Elvis himself gets referenced by Rizzo (Stockard Channing) in the film, and that scene was recorded on the day of his death.

Rizzo says: “Elvis, Elvis, let me be. Keep that pelvis far from me", during the song 'Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee'.

Director Randall Kleiser later said: “It was very eerie. It was all over the news, so everyone knew.”

He added that the crew was “creeped” out by the moment. He said: “We did this number, and everybody kind of looked at each other like: ‘Yeah, this is creepy.’”