Inside Grease tragedies from Olivia Newton-John’s cancer battle to sudden deaths of cast members and one star’s arrest

THE stars of Grease have faced significant tragedies throughout their lives and careers. 

Fans have speculated that some members of the cast are being plagued by a curse. 

Many of the cast members of Grease have faced tragedies off-screen, such as Olivia Newton-John's breast cancer diagnosis

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Many of the cast members of Grease have faced tragedies off-screen, such as Olivia Newton-John’s breast cancer diagnosisCredit: Getty
Three women close to John Travolta have died from breast cancer and the actor also lost his son, Jett, in 2009

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Three women close to John Travolta have died from breast cancer and the actor also lost his son, Jett, in 2009Credit: Getty
Actor Eddie Deezen was arrested last September on suspicion of second-degree assault, disorderly conduct, and trespassing

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Actor Eddie Deezen was arrested last September on suspicion of second-degree assault, disorderly conduct, and trespassingCredit: ALLEGENY COUNTY SHERIFF

The misfortune isn’t limited to those involved in the 1978 film, but many of the stars’ spouses and partners have faced tragedy as well.

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN

Playing Sandy Olsson opposite John Travolta’s Danny Zuko, Olivia Newton-John captured hearts during her performance. 

However, heartbreak struck after her father’s death from cancer in 1992. 

That same weekend, Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo breast reconstruction, chemotherapy, and a partial mastectomy. 

After a 30-year battle, the four-time Grammy Award-winning singer passed away on Monday morning at her ranch in Southern California, her husband John Easterling confirmed.

“Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” Easterling wrote on her Facebook page.

“Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer.

“Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.

“In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund (ONJFoundationFund.org).”

Following the news of her passing, Travolta paid tribute to Newton-John on social media, sharing: “My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better.

“Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will be together again. Yours from the moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”

EDDIE DEEZEN’S ARREST

Known for playing gullible nerd Eugene Felsnic, Eddie Deezen was arrested last September in LaVale, Maryland. 

Police were called after Deezen allegedly caused a scene in a venue.

He reportedly tried to hide behind a woman in a booth, TMZ reports.

Cops told Deezen to leave the restaurant several times but the actor refused.

Deezen allegedly threw plates and bowls at cops, with one reportedly hitting a deputy.

The actor was charged with second-degree assault, disorderly conduct, and trespassing.

Months before this arrest, Deezen was accused of harassing waitress Kara Lashbaugh at a restaurant. 

The actor reportedly complained about the waitress on Facebook as he allegedly commented on her fake eyelashes, and branded her an “attention wh***”, according to TMZ.

Hitting back, the waitress alleged: “Eddie Deezen is a f*** CREEP who comes into my work at least once a week, calls and asks other servers for my schedule, and if he comes in and I’m not wearing makeup HE LEAVES. 

“And this grown a** old man has the b*** to post this on Facebook about me I’m losing my mind.”

The Grease star was dropped by his PR manager after the allegations emerged, Fox News reported.

SUDDEN DEATHS

Edd Byrne, who played radio announcer Vince Fontaine, died at his California home at the age of 87 in January 2020. 

The news was announced by the actor’s news anchor son Logan, 54, who called his father “my best friend”.

Taking to Twitter, he posted: “It is with profound sadness and grief that I share with you the passing of my father Edd Byrnes. He was an amazing man and one of my best friends.”

He continued: “His is the story of an ambitious young kid who, in his 20s drove out to Hollywood from New York City with a few hundred dollars and a dream of making it big in the entertainment business.

“He soon landed a starring role on the wildly popular TV series ’77 Sunset Strip’ as the cool-talking ‘Kookie.’ He went on to star in dozens of motion pictures and television series popular around the world, including playing the suave and debonaire Vince Fontaine in ‘Grease.'”

He claimed the iconic Sunset Strip role had made him typecast, although he did star in a series of westerns in the last sixties before returning to TV.

Edd even hosted the pilot of the hit game show Wheel Of Fortune but missed out on the full-time gig.

The TV star was married to actress Asa Maynor, with whom he had his son, Logan, for nine years between 1962 and 1971.

On May 11, 2011, Jeff Conaway, who played Danny’s best friend Kenickie Murdoch, was found unconscious in what was originally believed to be an overdose on pain medication. 

However, it was later revealed the actor was suffering from pneumonia with sepsis. He was treated and placed into an induced coma. 

His family took him off life support on May 26 and he passed away the following morning at the age of 60. 

While Conaway’s drug use did not cause his pneumonia, his doctors said it drastically affected his ability to recognize how severely ill he was and he received treatment for pneumonia too late. 

“What happens is, like with most opiate addicts, eventually they take a little too much … and they aspirate, so what’s in their mouth gets into their lungs … That’s what happened with Jeff,” said Dr Drew Pinsky. 

TRAVOLTA TRAGEDIES

John Travolta has had his own fair share of tragedies throughout his career. 

Known as one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs, John has struggled with the loss of the three closest women in his life to breast cancer, his son’s sudden death and battling crippling confidence issues.

He had been dating Diana Hyland, an actress 18 years his senior who had a son, and was described as the “complete package” for the star.

John’s TV co-star Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs said: “She actually loved him and he worshipped her. He looked up to her.” 

The fledgling actor was “beyond excited” for his first big movie and had been training for five months before his world was rocked by the news that Diana had breast cancer in 1977.

Diana underwent a mastectomy but cancer had spread throughout her body and just three months after her diagnosis she died.

Wensley Clarkson, who wrote a biography about the star, explained that John spent every moment he could with her but struggled to rein in his emotions on set.

Wensley said: “She actually died in his arms and then he had to get back on that airplane, fly back to NY and go onto the set of Saturday Night Fever almost as if nothing had happened.”

John was in “a very, very tender state” and director John Badham described him as “a zombie” and “broken” between takes.

Despite his struggles, the film earned John his first nominations for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.

Travolta’s mother was also tragically diagnosed with breast cancer, but she chose not to tell him. 

Wensley said: “She knew what he’d been through with the death of Diana Hyland only 18 months earlier and she wanted to pretend, it was always her priority to protect him.”

After she revealed her health battle, John visited “almost every day” and in touching moments to “keep her spirits up” would perform musical numbers for her.

Eight months later Helen died, leaving “a huge void” in John’s life and at the same time, his career was under threat too.

While off-camera, John lived a happy life with wife Kelly Preston and their three children. 

But by 2009, more tragedy was in store for John when his son Jett, 16, died after he suffered a seizure and hit his head on a bathtub.

“Obviously it was devastating,” said entertainment reporter Kathryn Kinley. “He actually said he didn’t think he’d recover, he didn’t think he’d come out of his bedroom.”

John admitted it was “the worst thing that’s ever happened to me bar none” and he struggled every day to stave off depression.

Wensley said “There was a feeling in Hollywood and elsewhere of great sympathy for him, he has been through a lot.

“It’s almost as if every important stage of John Travolta’s life has been accompanied by the death of someone close to him.”

In another cruel twist of fate, John would lose his beloved wife, Kelly, to breast cancer in 2020 after she was diagnosed in 2018. 

John took to Instagram to announce his wife’s death and described that she “fought a courageous fight with the love and support from so many”.  

Four major deaths, including three from breast cancer, career highs and lows led many to conclude that John’s life was a “rollercoaster ride”.

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Journalist Kathryn Kinley said: “Sometimes he hasn’t wanted to take the ride, I don’t blame him but only the strongest survive.”

John’s former vocal coach, David Grant gave testament to the star’s comebacks across the decades and branded him “a Hollywood icon”.

Jeff Conaway, who played Kenickie Murdoch passed away from pneumonia in 2011

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Jeff Conaway, who played Kenickie Murdoch passed away from pneumonia in 2011Credit: Getty
Edd Byrne [left] died at his California home at the age of 87 in January 2020

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Edd Byrne [left] died at his California home at the age of 87 in January 2020Credit: Getty

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