‘Grease’ star Frankie Avalon nearly passed on iconic role because it resembled Elvis Presley

May 16, 2024 | Latest News | 0 comments

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Frankie Avalon nearly missed out on his iconic “Beauty School Dropout” moment in the 1978 film, “Grease.”

During an appearance on the “Our Way with Paul Anka and Skip Bronson” podcast, the entertainer opened up about his initial reaction to being offered the part of “Teen Angel,” a handsome young singer who serenades Frenchy (played by Didi Conn) in a daydream.

“A few years later (after seeing ‘Grease’ on Broadway in the early 1970s), I’m playing golf at a club where I belong, and my manager is waiting for me after nine holes,” he said. “He says, ‘Frankie, I got a script here from Paramount. They want you for this picture.'”

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN ADMITTED SHE HAD A CRUSH ON ‘GREASE’ CO-STAR JOHN TRAVOLTA, CALLING ATTRACTION ‘MAGIC’

However, Avalon said he passed right away over concerns the “Teen Angel” looked too similar to Elvis Presley. 

“I say, ‘Well, because I saw the play and the character Teen Angel is all in black and he’s got long sideburns — it’s Elvis. I’m not Elvis. I got my own style. I don’t sing like that. I don’t do gyrations,'” Avalon recalled telling production executives. 

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“They said, ‘Would you do it if we changed it?’ I said, ‘What do you mean, change it?'”

Production agreed to make the film’s scene different from the stage scene, in that they dressed in all white instead of black. 

“We started working on the thing. That’s how I did the picture. I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it.’ If you saw the play, that’s how Teen Angel was,” Avalon said. “The original character was not my style.”

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Avalon was not the only “Grease” star who almost turned down their role. 

Olivia Newton-John, who portrayed Sandy, initially turned down the opportunity to star in the film. The film’s casting director, Joel Thurm, told Fox News Digital in February 2023 that John Travolta (Danny) really wanted Newton-John to play his love interest, but she was hesitant.

Newton-John was not happy with her performance in the 1970 film “Toomorrow,” which made her concerned about her next role.

“I was embarrassed by the last movie that I did, and I don’t want that to happen again,” she told Thurm.

“She met John and she liked him. She also liked the role of Sandy, but she was really cautious,” Thurm said. “By this time, she’s a huge worldwide star and busy on tour. But we all thought she was perfect, that she was Sandy. So, she said, ‘All right, well, in that case, I’d like a screen test.’ That is the first and only time I’ve ever heard of an actor or actress asking for a screen test.”

The movie, which was released on June 13, 1978, followed Sandy Olsson (Newton-John) and Danny Zuko (Travolta) as they tried to navigate high school love. 

“Of all the films that I’ve made, I think the only film that has been outstanding in this world is ‘Grease’,” Avalon said. “Huge all over the world. ‘Beautiful School Dropout’ and me coming down the stairs — around the world, they know that.”

Fox News Digital’s Lori Bashian contributed to this post. 

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