'Grease' Lightning Strikes Twice

SIX DEGREES OF ELVIS Travolta had a "Presley-like quality" in Grease, says director Kleiser, who would know. To help pay his college and film school tuition, the director, now 51, often worked as an extra in movies--including 1967's Double Trouble. "I had a bit where I was dancing with a girl and Elvis jumped off the stage and grabbed her," says Kleiser.

Travolta and Kleiser weren't the only ones conjuring up images of the King. The original script called for a Presley type in Frenchy's (Didi Conn) fantasy sequence. "We originally thought about Fabian, [but for some reason] we didn't go to him," says Carr. Frankie Avalon signed on, but with one caveat: The former good-boy teen idol balked at "playing Elvis," insisting he perform the "Teen Angel" scene Frankie Avalon-style.

But the weirdest Elvis connection occurred in the "Sandra Dee" scene. On the morning the scene began filming, with Stockard Channing singing "Elvis, Elvis, keep your pelvis from me" to a poster of the King, Presley's body was discovered at Graceland.

IS THERE A TRAVOLTA IN THE HOUSE? Forget about Travolta's swiveling hips--it was his healing hands that the cast and crew remember most.

Travolta's first restorative encounter came during an audition involving actress Annette Cardona (who went by the name of Annette Charles when she played Danny's hot-to-trot dance partner Cha Cha). Accidentally knocking heads with Travolta during their dance, Cardona momentarily lost consciousness. When she came to, she saw Travolta waving his arms over her head.

Kleiser also got the hands-on treatment when he cut his foot and developed a fever-inducing infection. "John came to my trailer to do a healing," Kleiser recalls. "He took his finger and pushed it into my arm and said, 'Do you feel my finger?' and I said 'Yes,' and then he'd move it an inch and say, 'Do you feel my finger?' He did this for about an hour. Here was the star of the movie helping me, so I didn't criticize. The next day, though, my fever was gone."

LET'S STAY TOGETHER! A pre-Taxi Jeff Conaway, who played Kenickie, remembers that although he was dating Lisa Hartman during the filming, he soon fell hard for Newton-John, a crush he shared with Travolta. When Travolta expressed his own interest (Newton-John says she was oblivious to all the attention), Conaway steered clear and did the next best thing: He asked Newton-John's sister Rona out on a date. They were married for five years before divorcing in 1985.

SECRET ADMIRERS For the large production numbers, Carr opened the Paramount soundstages to employees and visitors. Among those who stopped by: Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, as well as ballet dancers Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev, who watched as Didi Conn went through "Beauty School Dropout." But performing while the greatest dancers in the world stood on the sidelines didn't faze Conn--she was already a goner. "Frankie Avalon was so dreamy," says Conn, whose memories, along with other cast members', are collected in Frenchy's Grease Scrapbook, due out this month from Hyperion. "My heart palpitated every time he got closer."


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