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Pag The Palm Beach Post MARCH 27,1 998 TGIF 4 t i It's always been the word. In fact, audiences have been hopelessly devoted to the movie, soundtrack, video and theater versions for years. So, get ready for this weekend's movie re-release by meeting a South Florida cast member and finding out what the rest of the Grease gang is up to. South Florida woman remembers her 'goody-goody' role in 'Grease' !ii-v -ft. , Susan Buckner as Patty Simcox. Susan Buckner, 45, is a dance instructor at the Body & Soul exercise studio in Coral Gables, where she lives. But 20 years ago, on the silver screen, she was Patty Simcox in Grease, the culmination of a Hollywood career that included stints as one of Dean Martin's Golddiggers and as a dancer on The Sonny and Cher Show. At one point, Buckner was even up for the role of Sandy if Olivia Newton-John didn't get it. In an interview, she recalled her memories of Grease: Which character was Patty? "I was the goody-goody cheerleader with a poodle skirt. The Pink Ladies (girl gang) wouldn't even talk to me. They hated me." What scenes are you most visible in? "Definitely when Kenickie (Jeff Conaway) puts a frog in my purse during science class. At the dance, I'm the head of the decorations committee, and the whole decorations thing falls apart on my head. Then, as I'm doing my little part for the dance-off for the cameras, Kenickie comes up behind me and pulls through, but my kids will have slee-povers, and it'll be on. And I walk in and out of the room and see bits and pieces." When's the last time you saw it on the big screen? "I went to the premiere in Los Angeles last week. You miss so much on video. This is a chance for people to really see this the way it came out." Where was the premiere? "Mann's Chinese Theatre. Everybody was bused in on Rydell High School reunion school buses onto Hollywood Boulevard. The whole street was blocked off, and there was a huge Grease production dance going on in the middle of the street." Was it like going back to a high school reunion? "It really was. Of course, we know all the leads, but there were so many people that worked on the film that you had to work to remember their names, just like at a reunion. It was exciting, and it was scary, just like the real thing." Did Grease lead to other work for you? "I was in Wes Craven's my dress up over my head." While you were filming, did you have any idea what sort of phenomenon Grease would become? "We knew it was good. I don't think there was another set you could be on that was so exciting. But none of us knew I certainly didn't know that it would have this type of magnitude." What explains its monster success? "My theory is we've all been school kids, and we all relate to the friendships, the relationships, the sexual traumas, the problems of fitting in and decidingvhat you're going to do with your life. It's everybody's life, really." Did you make lifelong friends on the set? "Oh, yes, that was Patty Simcox's aim in life, to make lifelong friends. I have remained in contact with Jeff Conaway over the years." Do you own a videotape of Grease? "Actually, it belongs to my children (a daughter, 14, and a son, 17). It's just sort of always out I can't say I sit and watch it all the way Deadly Blessings in '81. It was with Lisa Hartman and Sharon Stone. That was her very first picture. And I did a television series called When the Whistle Blows, playing Lucy the iron-worker." Why did you leave show business? "I got married to someone who lived in Florida, and then I had children. I was going back and forth (to Los Angeles) every week, and it just became a geographical decision that I would stay here and raise my kids." Didn't you direct and choreograph a school production of Grease? "I really couldn't get out of it. My son was in the fourth grade at the time, and he volunteered me." Are you going to see the movie again this weekend? "You never know. I might be getting a group of people together to go. But, y'k-now, I think it would be so much fun to see it at a drive-in." So is Grease the word? "It certainly is the word. And it was titanic also." HAP ERSTEIN v Susan Buckner today. STILL THE ONES THAT YOU WANT What is the Grease cast up to now? With a little help from Frenchy's Grease Scrapbook (Hyperion), a new book by Grease cast member Didi Conn, some of the cast members ruminate on what the gang from Rydell High would be doing today. GREASE S ... 20 years old. (And don't you feel older!) A proven moneymaker. It grossed $360 million worldwide. Still a hot soundtrack. It sold 8 million albums, is now No. 4 on Billboard's back catalog pop list, where it has resided for a phenomenal 250 weeks. A long-running theater phenomenon. It opened in 1972, played more than eight years, then was revived in 1994 and played almost four more years. 1 . rn Stockard Channing (Betty Rizzo): Plays Paul Newman's love interest in Twilight. What would Rizzo be doing? "I definitely think that Rizzo and Kenickie got together and that he had a garage." Jeff Conaway (Kenickie): After Grease, he was in Taxi and is now on TNT's Babylon 5. What would Kenickie be doing? "He became a mechanic and now he owns a few garages, maybe by now a chain of garages. And he got married to Betty." Want to know where to see Grease? See Page 11. John Travolta (Danny). Now starring as the Clinton-like governor in Primary Colors. What would Danny be doing? "He owns an auto shop that specializes in 1955-57 T-Birds, and on the weekends Sandy and he go out dancing. They have three children." Olivia Newton-John (Sandy): After battling breast cancer, the singer-actress is planning to record a new album in Nashville. What would Sandy be doing? "I think she has developed her own cosmetic line called 'Sandra Dee' cosmetics, and she has her own makeover studio like you see on Oprah." 'i v f . -C The Pink Ladies of Grease at their slumber party from left, Jamie Connelly, Olivia Newton-John, Didi Conn, Stockard Channing and Dinah Manoff.