'Ahead of Its Time': How Olivia Newton-John's Final Grease Outfit Became a Cultural Phenomenon

Press/Media: Expert comment


The death of Olivia Newton-John was followed by an avalanche of tributes from celebrities and fans on social media. And the image accompanying most of the posts of was Newton-John as Sandy Olsson in the last scene of her signature 1978 film, Grease. Wearing tight black trousers, an off-the-shoulder black top, red mules and biker jacket, with her hair teased and a cigarette in hand, she gazes into the eyes of co-star John Travolta as Danny Zuko.

Period12 Aug 2022

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • Title'Ahead of its time': how Olivia Newton-John's finl Grease Outfit become a cultural phenomenon
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletGuardian
    Media typePrint
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    DescriptionThe continued impact is partly thanks to the outfit’s place in the film. In the final scene, Sandy – previously painted as a square in the cutesy poodle skirts and pastel colours of the 1950s – is transformed into a “bad girl” in figure-hugging black and leathers. “It seems to have a way of representing [the] dreams of everyone,” says Oliver Gruner, who edited the 2019 book Grease is the Word. “[Sandy] transforms from a shrinking violet … [It’s an example of] just totally becoming a different character, remaking yourself.”
    Producer/AuthorLauren Cochrane
    PersonsOliver Gruner