Some celebrity deaths seem to sting more than others. The world was certainly left reeling this past Monday as news of the untimely passing of Olivia Newton-John at the tender age of 73 made its way across the internet. Star of the stage, screen and music video, the beloved British-born, Australian-bred singer/actress/activist shot to fame thanks to her role as sunny Rydell High School student Sandy Olsson in the 1978 film adaptation of the musical “Grease.” Sheer perfection in her portrayal, the talented Hollywood multihyphenate was actually hesitant to accept the part when it was initially offered, which seems inconceivable in hindsight. As director Randal Kleiser recounted to the Los Angeles Times in 1998, “Newton-John was our first choice to play Sandy, but she was nervous about acting, feeling comfortable with us and whether she could pull it off at all. She requested a screen test; afterward, she would decide if she would do the movie.”
The screen test – and her chemistry with co-star John Travolta, who played her love interest, T-Bird Danny Zuko – proved magical, she accepted the role and the rest, as they say, is history. Per The Numbers, “Grease” became the highest-grossing movie of the year following its June 16 release, raking in an incredible $153 million by the end of 1978. It went on to gross nearly $390 million in total worldwide box office sales, spawning one of the most popular soundtracks of all time and turning Newton-John into a household name in the process.
Set in an unspecified American suburb, the flick (which is currently streaming on Paramount+) was shot in and around Los Angeles throughout the summer of 1977. Forty-five years later, the locations used remain some of the most beloved amongst film aficionados. Incredibly, though a handful have been lost to the wrecking ball, many still look much as they did when Kleiser originally captured them with his camera four and a half decades ago! One, in particular, the Craftsman-esque house where Frenchy (Didi Conn) hosts a slumber party for her fellow Pink Ladies – Rizzo (Stockard Channing), Marty (Dinah Manoff) and Jan (Jamie Donnelly) – and Rydell newcomer Sandy, remains absolutely frozen in time from its big-screen appearance.
In real life, the two-story property can be found at 4522 Kingswell Ave. in Los Feliz, just a little over a mile away from John Marshall High School, the spot used in the movie’s famed finale sequence, and about three miles from the Paramount Pictures lot, which served as the production’s home base. (Please remember this is a private dwelling. Do not trespass or bother the residents or the property in any way.)