Stockard Channing Says She Will Miss 'Grease' Co-Star Olivia Newton-John 'Tremendously' In Touching Tribute

Aug 11, 2022 by apost team

Beloved actress and hugely popular singer Olivia Newton-John passed away on August 8, 2022, at the age of 73, leaving her family, friends and many fans devastated.

Her family made the announcement on her Facebook page, saying she passed away peacefully at her Southern California ranch. While her cause of death was not specified in the message, Newton-John has had a history of battling cancer for more than three decades. 

Since her passing, there has been a tremendous outpouring of tributes, condolences, sharing of memories and love in her honor. Among them was her "Grease" co-star Stockard Channing.

Born Susan Williams Antonia Stockard on February 13, 1944, in Manhattan, New York City, Channing is best known for her role as Betty Rizzo in the hit musical film "Grease." 

Channing started school at Chapin School in New York City and then later attended Madeira School in McClean, Virginia, which is a girl's boarding school. The actress went on to study literature and history at Radcliffe College of Harvard University and graduated summa cum laude in 1965.

Channing studied acting at the HB Studio in New York City and began her career performing in Off-Broadway productions with the experimental Theatre Company of Boston. Her Broadway debut was in "Two Gentlemen of Verona – The Musical" in 1971. Then in 1973, she would perform on Broadway again, this time in "No Hard Feelings."

At the start of Channing's film career, she co-starred with Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty in the 1975 film "The Fortune." The movie was well received by critics but not a huge box-office success. Channing's first role that made her a household name came in 1977 with the production of "Grease." The actress was age 33 when she got the role of high school student Betty Rizzo opposite Newton-John.

Jeff Conaway, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing and Didi Conn (1998), (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Channing was in a difficult place when she was offered the role of Rizzo. She explained to Broadway World that she was not making very much money in Hollywood and struggling to pay her mortgage. Playing a character so much younger than herself wasn't exactly easy either. Channing said:

"I was at the bottom of the barrel, bottom of the drawer maybe but I decided the only way I could do this was to look at her like she was a real person. I was so much older than she was in life, but I could not think about that so I sort of threw myself back to what I felt when I was her age, even younger. The complexity of adolescents and hormones and sexuality and all of that other stuff. Seeing that I really was older I think that added to the isolation of Rizzo."

Newton-John, too, had some apprehension about taking on her "Grease" role as the clean-cut Sandy Olsson, believing that, at 28 during filming, she was too old for the part. But both actresses overcame their unease to play rivals in the film and we are all the better for it.

While Newton-John performed many songs in the film such as "Hopelessly Devoted To You," "Summer Nights" and "You're The One That I Want." While Channing had fewer tracks, they were no less memorable and included "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee" and "There Are Worse Things I Could Do." 

Channing said, "I was very much in love with that song, 'There Are Worse Things I Could Do,' and I fought for it and Pat Birch, who directed all the musical sequences, helped me."

Newton-John and Channing played their parts to perfection and will forever be immortalized in the all-time classic.

Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing (2001), (Newsmakers/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Unlike their characters in "Grease," Newton-John and Channing were close friends and, even years later, would be photographed at events catching up. Following her friend's death, Channing paid tribute to her former co-star with some touching words. "I don't know if I've known a lovelier human being," she told PEOPLE in a statement. 

"Olivia was the essence of summer – her sunniness, her warmth and her grace are what always come to mind when I think of her."

"I will miss her enormously."

Channing joined fellow "Grease" co-star John Travolta in offering her condolences. The actor, who played Danny Zuko, Newton-John's character's love interest in the musical, posted a touching message on Instagram alongside a gorgeous photo of the late star.

"My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better," he wrote, adding, "Your impact was incredible. I love you so much."

"We will see you down the road and we will all be together again."

"Yours from the moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!"

Newton-John leaves behind a daughter, a sister and brother, nieces and nephews and husband John Easterling, who took to Instagram two days after her passing to post a picture of them together in happier days. The caption read:

"Her bandwidth for genuinely caring for people, for nature and all creatures almost eclipses what is humanely possible. … In her most difficult times she always had the spirit, the humor, and the will power to move things into the light."

He added that, since her passing, he and their family have been moved by the tributes in Newton-John's honor.

"Our family deeply appreciates the vast ocean of love and support that has come our way."

Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing (2001), (Newsmakers/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

How lovely is it to see Olivia Newton-John's friends, such as Stockard Channing, offer such touching words after her passing? Were you a fan of their roles in the hit musical "Grease?" Let us know and remember to pass this on to family and friends.

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