Tragic Passing: ‘Grease’ Star Remembered Fondly After Untimely Death

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A lively group of young adults in colorful 1950s attire energetically singing and dancing at a bustling outdoor fair, full of excitement and joy.

Credit: Paramount

Rydell High will never be the same, as one of the legendary characters from Grease has sadly passed away far too soon.

Olicia Neaton-John and John Travolta in Grease
Credit: Paramount Pictures

As many of us know, Grease is a beloved musical film that was released on June 16, 1978. It stars John Travolta as Danny Zuko and Olivia Newton John as Sandy Olsson, two high school students who fall in love over the summer break but find themselves attending the same school in the fall. The movie features a vibrant cast of characters including Rizzo (Stockard Channing), Kenickie (Jeff Conaway), Frenchy (Didi Conn), and Sonny (Michael Tucci), as the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds, among others.

At the box office, Grease was a massive success, becoming the highest-grossing musical film ever at the time of its release. It earned over $394 million worldwide, making it a commercial phenomenon.

Even decades after its release, Grease remains incredibly popular. It has become a cultural icon, with its memorable songs like “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One That I Want” still being widely recognized and sung today. The film has had numerous successful revivals in theaters, on television, and in live performances via Broadway, continuing to attract new generations of fans.

The hearts of Grease fans were shattered in 2022 when Olivia Newton John passed away. She had a long battle with breast cancer that first began in 1992. She fought the disease bravely for over 30 years.

olivia newton-john grease
Credit: Paramount

Now, another member of the Grease family has perished.

Susan Buckner, best known as cheerleader Patty Simcox in Grease, died on May 2, her son, Adam Josephs, tells Entertainment Weekly. She was 72. She “died peacefully” “surrounded by loved ones,” family publicist Melissa Berthier tells EW. No cause of death was provided.

Fans are devastated by the loss, commenting, “Man, 72 is way too young. RIP Patty, you and those Rydell High vibes will be missed” online.

Buckner’s portrayal of the overly positive cheerleader Patty Simcox was so excellent that her bouncy personality has been impossible to forget for decades and now, years later, will continue to live on through the films. In case you need a little Patty refresher, let us just remind you of her iconic cheer: “Do the splits, give a yell! Show a little spirit for old Rydell! Way to go, red and white! Go Rydell, fight, fight, fight!”. You can almost feel Rizzo’s eyes roll back as you read the cheer in your head.

Credit: Paramount

Related: Confirmed: Groundbreaking ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Star Passes Away in Tragedy

Although Patty Simcox was her most prominent role, Buckner continued her acting career into the ’80s, making appearances on television shows such as The Love Boat, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, B.J. and the Bear, and featuring in ten episodes of When the Whistle Blows. Additionally, she starred in Wes Craven’s Deadly Blessing alongside Sharon Stone and in the 1989 film Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, which marked her final role.

She then took a step away from the camera to focus on family.

All of us at Inside the Magic send out our deepest condolences to Susan’s friends and family during this time. 

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