Grease Star Susan Buckner Has Died

Susan Buckner Dead: The Grease star has passed away aged 71. Find out more information here...
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Susan Buckner, the actress best known for her role in Grease, has died. 

The 1978 hit musical has sadly lost another of its stars.

Grease follows the lives of greaser Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Australian transfer student Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John), who develop an attraction for one another during a summer romance.

Related Article: Grease Is Being Branded ‘Sexist’, ‘Misogynistic’, And ‘Problematic’ By People Rewatching Iconic Movie

Despite being over 40 years old, the movie continues to captivate audiences around the world with its blend of nostalgia, romance and rock ‘n’ roll.

It’s now been disclosed that Susan Buckner, who played Rydell High cheerleader Patty Simcox, has passed away.

Grease (1978).
Susan Buckner, who played a cheerleader at Rydell High in Grease, has sadly passed away. Credit: Alamy

The world has bid farewell to key cast members in recent years, including Olivia Newton-John and Jeff Conway.

Buckner’s passing has prompted a reflective glance back at the stars of the 1978 comedy to see where they are now…

John Travolta (Danny Zuko)

John Travolta
John Travolta has had a flourishing career since starring in Grease. Credit: Alamy

John Travolta’s acting career has flourished since starring in Grease.

He’s appeared in movies such as Pulp Fiction, Face/Off, Look Who’s Talking and Hairspray.

The 70-year-old is semi-retired, however, he recently starred in the action movie Cash Out.

Olivia Newton-John (Sandy Olsson)

Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John’s music career blossomed after Grease. Credit: Alamy

Olivia Newton-John was a four-time Grammy winner, known for hit tracks such as ‘Physical’.

Her career skyrocketed after starring in Grease and she would say she was ‘very grateful’ to have appeared in the musical.

Discussing the movie’s likeability, Newton-John told Billboard: “I think the songs are timeless. They’re fun and have great energy. The ’50s-feel music has always been popular, and it’s nostalgic for my generation; and then the young kids are rediscovering it every 10 years or so, it seems.

“People buying the album was a way for them to remember those feelings of watching the movie and feelings of that time period. I feel very grateful to be a part of this movie that’s still loved so much.”

Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John sadly passed away at age 73. Credit: Alamy

Sadly, Newton-John died from cancer at age 73 in 2022.

Her Grease co-star, Travolta, would say she ‘made all of our lives so much better’.

Stockard Channing (Betty Rizzo)

Stockard Channing as Rizzo in Grease.
Stockard Channing has had numerous TV roles since appearing in Grease. Credit: Alamy

Stockard Channing played tough Betty Rizzo in Grease.

Following her appearance in the hit musical, Channing would earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in the film Six Degrees of Separation.

Stockard Channing
Stockard Channing recently turned 80 years old. Credit: Alamy

Now 80, the star has appeared in episodes of various TV dramas, including The Good Wife.

Jeff Conway (Kenickie)

Jeff Conway as Kenickie in Grease.
Jeff Conway, who played Kenickie in Grease, died at age 60. Credit: Paramount Pictures

Jeff Conway played Danny’s best friend Kenickie. He would also star in the TV series Taxi and Babylon 5.

Conway died at age 60 in 2011. His death was ruled accidental and caused by a ‘major internal infection’, according to a coroner’s report (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Throughout his life, he had endured a long battle with drugs and alcohol.

Conway’s manager, Kathryn Boole, told the Associated Press (via ABC News): “It’s sad that people remember his struggle with drugs… He has touched so many people.”

Didi Conn (Frenchy)

Didi Conn as Frenchy in Grease.
Didi Conn stars in both Grease and Grease 2. Credit: Alamy

Didi Conn is best known for portraying the bubbly high school student Frenchy. She even stars in the sequel Grease 2.

The 72-year-old actress has become a celebrity spokesperson for Autism Speaks following her son’s diagnosis, as per CNN.

Didi Conn
Didi Conn has become a celebrity spokesperson for Autism Speaks. Credit: Alamy

Barry Pearl (‘Doody’)

Barry Pearl as Doody in Grease.
Barry Pearl says his role in Grease ‘may have pigeonholed’ him but he’s proud to be a part of such an iconic movie. Credit: Alamy

Barry Pearl, now 74, played ‘Doody’, a member of Danny’s posse.

He continues to have a career in acting, having starred in Beverly Hills, 90210, Baywatch and Criminal Minds.

Pearl returned to the Grease franchise for Grease Live! – this time playing the role of Stan Weaver.

Barry Pearl
Barry Pearl is now an acting teacher in the special needs communities. Credit: Alamy

In an interview with Now To Love, the star admitted he now lives an ‘un-Hollywood’ existence and is an acting teacher in the special needs communities.

Pearl says he is very proud of his role in Grease and the musical’s ongoing legacy.

“Though I may have had some secret hopes of continued fame, I was never so deluded to think that it was definitely going to be that sort of reality for me,” he told Now To Love.

“The role may have pigeonholed me as a clown but no major damage was done. As the years have passed and as the film continues its upward climb to the most successful film musical of all time, I take the ride with pride and gratitude.”

Dinah Manoff (Marty Maraschino)

Marty Maraschino
Dinah Manoff has delved into acting and directing. Credit: Paramount Pictures

Dinah Manoff made her film debut as Marty in Grease and went on to feature in various TV shows. She even went into directing, working on an episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, among others.

The 68-year-old has now stepped away from acting – IMDb reports her last credit to be 2008.

Dinah Manoff
Dinah Manoff has stepped away from acting. Credit: Alamy

Michael Tucci (Sonny LaTierri)

Michael Tucci as Sonny LaTierri in Grease.
Michael Tucci was 31 years old when he was cast as a high school student in Grease. Credit: Paramount Pictures

Michael Tucci, 78, played Sonny LaTierri in Grease. He was 31 years old when playing the 18-year-old, per Business Insider.

He’s continued to work in TV and film, having played the father of Melissa McCarthy’s character in The Heat (2013).

Tucci has also taught Fine Arts and Theatre Arts to California high schoolers, per The Independent.

Michael Tucci
Michael Tucci has reportedly taught Fine Arts and Theatre Arts to California high schoolers. Credit: Alamy

Kelly Ward (Putzie)

Kelly Ward, Barry Pearl, and Michael Tucci in Grease.
Kelly Ward (right) began focusing on work behind the camera after Grease. Credit: Alamy

Kelly Ward starred as T-Bird Putzie in Grease. Following his part in the hit film, he began focusing on work behind the camera.

The 67-year-old has become a voice director for children’s animated TV shows, as per The Independent. The star has worked on programmes such as Curious George and Scooby-Doo!.

Ward also works as a musical theatre professor at the University of Southern California.

Kelly Ward
Kelly Ward has become a voice director. Credit: Alamy

Jamie Donnelly (Jan)

Jamie Donnelly as Jan in Grease.
Jamie Donnelly has continued to work in film and TV. Credit: Paramount Pictures

Jamie Donnelly played Jan in the musical – the Pink Ladies member known for her quirky personality and love of food.

The 77-year-old has continued to act in various films, television shows, and stage productions since Grease.

Some of her notable work includes films such as Black MassCyrus, and Can’t Hardly Wait, per her IMDb.

Jamie Donnelly
Jamie Donnelly has numerous acting credits to her name. Credit: Alamy

Dennis Cleveland Stewart (Leo aka ‘Craterface’)

Dennis Cleveland Stewart as Craterface in Grease.
Dennis Cleveland Stewart would appear in the musical’s sequel. Credit: Paramount Pictures

Dennis Cleveland Stewart was an actor and dancer best known for playing Leo ‘Craterface’, the Scorpions’ gang leader in Grease. He reprised his role for Grease 2.

Tragically, the star would die at age 46 from complications of AIDS in 1994.

Annette Charles (‘Cha-Cha’ DiGregorio)

Annette Charles as Cha-Cha in Grease.
Annette Charles gave up acting and became a university professor. Credit: Alamy

Annette Charles was an actress and dancer best known for her role as ‘Cha-Cha’ DiGregorio in Grease. She would go on to make numerous appearances in film and TV.

The star would eventually give up acting and become a university professor, per the Mirror.

Sadly, Charles passed away at age 63 in 2011.

At the time of her death, a family member told TMZ: “Annette had recently started having difficulty breathing… and when she went to the doctor she learned that she had a cancerous tumour in one of her lungs.”

Susan Buckner (Patty Simcox)

Susan Buckner as Patty Simcox in Grease.
Susan Buckner, who starred in the hit musical Grease, has sadly passed away. Credit: Paramount

Grease fans have been left devastated by the news of Susan Buckner’s death.

Buckner was a beauty pageant queen before her acting career took off – she won the title of Miss Washington in 1971. She would represent the state at the nationwide pageant the following year, according to The Guardian.

Buckner was cast as Patty Simcox in Grease – Sandy Olsson’s friend as she joins Rydell High.

Throughout the movie, Patty frequently finds herself targeted by jokes from the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds.

In addition to her role as Simcox in Grease, the star appeared in several TV shows and films.

Buckner portrayed Hollywood bad girl Jean Harlow alongside Tommy Lee Jones in the 1977 CBS telefilm The Amazing Howard Hughes.

After departing from Hollywood, Buckner dedicated herself to family life and pursued a career directing children’s theatre and teaching dance.

Susan Buckner as Patty Simcox in Grease.
Susan Buckner’s cause of death has yet to be confirmed. Credit: Paramount Pictures

Melissa Berthier, publicist for the star’s family, has confirmed Buckner’s passing at age 72.

“Susan died peacefully on May 2 surrounded by loved ones,” she tells People.

Buckner’s daughter, Samantha Mansfield, adds: “The light she brought into every room will be missed forever. She was magic, and I was very lucky to call her my best friend.”

A statement to the Los Angeles Times reads: “Susan will be remembered for her kindness, generosity and unwavering commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of others.

“Her effervescent spirit will continue to inspire generations of performers and fans alike.”

Buckner’s cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

The actress is survived by her children, Adam and Samantha; grandchildren Oliver, Riley, Abigail, and Ruby; sister Linda; daughter-in-law Noel and son-in-law Adam; as well as her longtime partner, Al.

Donations in Buckner’s honour can be made to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

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Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.