Buzzworthy: Stars who have traveled through 'Grease'

September 15, 2013 

Half of the Monkees, a quarter of the Bradys, the entire population of "The Blue Lagoon" and a Sweathog. Former stars of "Saturday Night Live," "Happy Days" and "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," and the shady lawyer from "Chicago."

They're all among the actors who have appeared in stage productions of "Grease," one of the most enduringly popular musicals of all time.

The Manatee Players' production, which runs through Sept. 29 at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, doesn't feature any big stars -- but then a lot of the performers who have appeared in "Grease" over the years weren't stars at the time.

The list of famous "Grease" stage alumni features some big names of entertainment past and present. For many of them, it was a significant rung on the way up the ladder; for others, it was a comfortable stop after their popularity had peaked.

Some who appeared in the stage versions, including John Travolta and Frankie Avalon, were also in the movie. "Grease" stage veteran Adrian Zmed starred in the follow-up film, "Grease 2."

But there are some surprises on the list. Then-unknown Richard Gere had the lead role (Danny Zuko) in the original London production 42 years ago, which makes it odd that everyone made a big deal about his singing and dancing when the film version of "Chicago" came out.

Peter Gallagher, best known for "American Beauty," "sex, lies and videotape" and "The O.C." -- and for his massive eyebrows -- played Danny in 1978.

"Pretty Baby" Brooke Shields starred in a 1995 Broadway revival. Joe Piscopo of "Saturday Night Live" was DJ Vince Fontaine in a 1996 road show with Zmed and Scottish pop star Sheena Easton.

Here are more Greasers from the past 41 years, and why we remember them:

• Rosie O'Donnell: Actor/talk show host/former magazine maven.

• Adrienne Barbeau: Curvaceous star of "Maude" and "Escape From New York."

• Barry Bostwick: Among his many movie roles was Brad in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." More recently, he played the mayor on "Spin City."

• Treat Williams: Star of film ("Hair") and TV ("Everwood").

• Marilu Henner: Best known for her role on "Taxi," later a health and fitness guru.

• Jeff Conaway: Co-starred with Henner on "Taxi," appeared in the film and original Broadway versions of "Grease," became a tragic reality show star.

• Taylor Hicks: Former "American Idol."

• Lucy Lawless: TV's "Xena."

• Danica McKellar: "The Wonder Years" star-turned-math guru.

• Tracey Ullman: Hilarious British comedian/actor/singer who introduced "The Simpsons" to the world.

• Walter Bobbie: Director of the Broadway revival of "Chicago."

• Patrick Swayze: Famous "Ghost."

• Al Jarreau: Scat-singing jazzman.

• Linda Blair: Demon-child from "The Exorcist."

• Jennifer Holliday: Broadway chanteuse most famous for "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" from "Dreamgirls."

• John Secada: Latin crossover pop singer.

• Joely Fisher: Sitcom star and half-sister of Carrie Fisher.

• Mackenzie Phillips: The older sister on "One Day at a Time" and one of the kids from "American Graffiti."

• Michael Lembeck: Phillips' husband on "One Day at a Time."

• Christopher Atkins: Brooke Shields' boyfriend in "The Blue Lagoon."

• Davy Jones: The impish Monkee.

• Mickey Dolenz: The pudgy Monkee.

• Don Most: Fonzie's sidekick on "Happy Days"; he then was called Donny.

• Deborah Gibson: The former teen pop star; she then was called Debbie.

• Alan Paul: The tallest person in the Manhattan Transfer.

• Jo Anne Worley: The loudest person on "Laugh-In."

• Sutton Foster: Broadway star and TV "Bunhead."

• Dody Goodman: TV mother of "Mary Hartman," and Blanche in the screen version of "Grease."

• Sally Struthers: Meathead's wife, Archie Bunker's daughter on "All in the Family."

• Rex Smith: Former pop idol; starred in "The Pirates of Penzance" on stage and screen.

• Chubby Checker: Twist-meister.

• Megan Mullally: Current star of "Childrens Hospital," former sidekick of "Will and Grace."

• Maureen McCormick: Marcia, the foxiest Brady.

• Barry Williams: Greg, the grooviest Brady.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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