Although most people associate actor Olivia Newton-John with the iconic character of Sandy Olsson on Grease, the source material for the would-be Pink Lady is actually another famous artist.
As the Grease prequel Rise of the Pink Ladies is in development, now 81-year-old actor Donna Mills of Knots Landing fame took to social media to reveal that she was actually the inspiration behind Sandy.
In the 38-second clip that she posted on Instagram featuring the instantly-recognizable song We Go Together from the musical, Donna is seen dressed as two versions of the character: the "innocent" Sandy wearing pearls and a pink sweater with her hair blown out straight and the "Pink Lady" Sandy donning a leather jacket and curled hair.
In the caption, the actor, who will star in Jordan Peele's horror movie Nope this July, wrote, "Does the character Sandy from Grease look similar to me? Here's why!"
In the video, she explained. "Did you know that I went to school with Jim Jacobs? Jim Jacobs who wrote Grease, Jim Jacobs who used me as his model for Sandy," she said, referring to the 1978 musical’s co-writer. "I didn't know it at the time but I found out years later that I was the original Sandy."
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Turns out, as Yahoo Entertainment (opens in new tab) reports, that Donna and Jim went to Taft High School in Chicago together.
Jim actually opened up about the creation of Grease back in 2010, while talking to The Buffalo News (opens in new tab).
"We're sitting around in my apartment in like '69, and it was some cast party of a show," he recalled to the outlet. "Around 1 in the morning, there were still a few old potheads laying around, passed out on the floor. I was sick and tired of listening to Led Zeppelin or whatever the hell I had on the record player, and I dug out some of my old 45s. That's the humble beginnings of it. I was playing Dion and the Belmonts, Little Richard and the Five Satins, and I said to [late co-writer] Warren [Casey], 'Man, wouldn't that be a gas to do a Broadway show using this kind of music instead of that traditional Brigadoon, Oklahoma stuff that we all know?'"
The rest, as they say, is history: a path that leads us straight to the much-anticipated Grease prequel, set to air on Paramount+ some time this year.
Although no official premiere date has yet been announced, we do know that the series will include 10 episodes in total and that it will feature an entirely new roster of original songs.
There is just something about the Pink Ladies that we can’t get enough of, no matter how long it’s been since we first met them.
Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.
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