Why Olivia Newton-John Is Parting Ways With Her Leather Jacket From 'Grease'

The actress opens up about the memorable costume, along with what she thinks about the upcoming "Grease" prequel.
"Grease" followed the romance between Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Australian transfer student Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John).
"Grease" followed the romance between Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Australian transfer student Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John).
Fotos International/Paramount via Getty Images

Olivia Newton-John is employing the KonMari method to her belongings ― and doing it for a good cause.

This fall, she’ll auction off some of her possessions to benefit the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness Research Center in Australia. More than 200 of her film and television costumes, ensembles, gowns and accessories will be up for auction on Nov. 1 via Julien’s Auctions.

“I’ve had my time with them and enjoyed it. And now somebody else can — and the money from the auction will have purpose. I feel joyful about it, as Marie Kondo would say,” the actress told HuffPost, referring to the organizing author and Netflix star.

Newton-John said that now felt like the right time to parse through her personal items to determine what could be auctioned off for the cancer center.

“It’s been 40 years since ‘Grease’ and I thought about it for the past few years: How can I raise money for my cancer research center in Australia? … I had a plan to do it. And last year, I wasn’t really able to partake in anything. I had some health issues going on,” said Newton-John, who has battled cancer multiple times in recent years. “And this year, I’m feeling great.”

Among the items up for grabs will be Newton-John’s black leather jacket and pants seen at the end of the 1978 movie “Grease.”

A close-up of Newton-John's jacket from "Grease."
A close-up of Newton-John's jacket from "Grease."
Julien's Auction

“It was in storage for a while and then it was in my house,” Newton-John said about the iconic outfit. “I actually wore the jacket onstage for quite a few years before my publicist said, ‘I think you should maybe not wear it onstage. It will be a valuable outfit one day.’ I hadn’t really thought of it. I hadn’t really thought that 40 years later people would still care. So, then I put it away and I got another jacket copied!”

Looking back, she can clearly recall what it was like to step into the costume on the set of the film, co-starring John Travolta. She first tried it on in the trailer while Travolta was recording the song “Sandy” at the drive-in movie theater.

“The hair person did my hair, and the makeup person did my makeup. And when I walked out there, the reaction I got was like, ‘Whoa, what have I been doing wrong?!’ They didn’t even know it was me, I think, initially. It was really fun to transform into a different person.”

"Grease" was set in the 1950s.
"Grease" was set in the 1950s.

Although it’s been over 40 years since “Grease” hit theaters, there’s still a lot of interest in the movie based on the musical of the same name. Paramount is currently working on a prequel to the film titled “Summer Loving.”

“I will be curious to see what they do. They are in the throes of writing it, that’s all I know,” she said.

When asked what she imagined her “Grease” character Sandy’s backstory to be, Newton-John wasn’t quite sure.

“She comes from Australia, so I imagine she comes from a little town and her parents are maybe in the diplomatic corps, so maybe they get transferred. I’ve never really thought about it until this moment! I’ve never really thought about what it would be for a prequel. I’ve thought about [Sandy’s life] afterward,” she said. “It would be very interesting to see what they come up with.”

But don’t expect Newton-John to revive her role in any new version of “Grease.”

“I don’t know, it would really depend on what it was. ‘Grease’ was what it was, and I really think it would probably be best left alone for me,” she said.

That doesn’t mean Newton-John doesn’t feel nostalgic for the film and that memorable closing-number outfit.

“I recently tried it on for fun ― just to see if I could get my leg in there. And I could!”

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