Grease (Clip): Thunder Road / Randal Kleiser / 1978
Los Angeles that summer was brutally hot, making the dance sequences—particularly the famous National Bandstand scene, filmed over five days inside an actual high-school gym with closed windows—particularly brutal. Michael Tucci, who played T-Bird Sonny LaTierri, fainted and had to be taken to the E.R. “We were dying,” says Didi Conn. “It was my birthday that week, and they got me a cake, and it was melting.”
Production was halted after Kleiser caught an infection in his foot from the filthy water of the Los Angeles River during the drag-racing Thunder Road shoot. He was resting in his trailer when Travolta walked in to give him a Scientology “touch assist.” Using his index finger, he touched Kleiser in various places as he said, over and over, “Feel my finger.” Kleiser would respond, “Yes,” and Travolta would answer, “Thank you.” This went on for an hour. “I was lying there with this fever and he’s poking me and poking me and poking me and I’m like, ‘Yes, I feel it.’ ‘Thank you.’ Then he left. The next day I was better, and of course he claimed it was because of the touch assist.” ➡︎
On a Saturday night in early October, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti threw a sort of farewell party for the viaduct. The idea was to close the bridge, put up a gigantic movie screen, and show Grease. One last hurrah. [...]
It’s easy to see why many L.A. filmmakers spent 2015 rushing to grab their last shots on the viaduct. A few hours before the mayor’s showing of Grease, the city suddenly announced the event would be moved to the next bridge to the north, the less-splendid Fourth Street Bridge. The result was a confused and sparse crowd, and my wife and I wondered why the last-minute change had been necessary. After the screening ended—and after Olivia Newton John remade herself as a tight-leather-pants-wearing, cigarette-smoking fast-girl for Travolta—we headed toward Sixth Street. As we crossed into East Los Angeles, we noticed that one of the lanes ahead was closed.
They were filming a car commercial. ➡︎
◼︎ Bridges to L.A. history / David Pierson / Los Angeles Times /2008