16 photos show how 'Grease' costars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's friendship evolved over the last 44 years

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  • John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John met as costars in the 1978 musical "Grease."

  • The actors reunited years later to film "Two of a Kind," released in 1983.

  • Newton-John and Travolta were close friends for more than four decades.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John met through their roles as Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson in "Grease," but their real-life friendship went far beyond the hit 1978 musical film.

The costars continued to remain close in the years that followed the movie's release. They reunited for the 1983 film "Two of a Kind" and collaborated on the song "Take a Chance" as part of the soundtrack. The entertainers also teamed up for a joint holiday album in 2012 titled "This Christmas."

When Newton-John died in August 2022 at 73 years old, Travolta penned a heartfelt tribute on Instagram, writing, "My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!"

Here are photos that show how their friendship evolved.

Travolta convinced Newton-John to accept the lead role in "Grease."

A still from the Paramount film "Grease" in 1978.Paramount Pictures/Fotos International/Getty Images

Newton-John almost didn't take on the part of Sandy Olsson.

In her autobiography "Don't Stop Believin'," the Australian actress said she felt too old at 28 to play a high school student. Two of her prior films flopped at the box office, leaving her unsure about her acting career.

But when the already-cast Travolta met with Newton-John about the movie, she agreed to a screen test.

"In person, John Travolta radiates pure joy and love. That day, he greeted me with a big hug like we were already lifelong friends. How could you say no to John Travolta?" she writes, per The Sunday Post.

The costars attended the 1978 premiere of "Grease" together.

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Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta at the "Grease" premiere.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The actors arrived on the red carpet together to celebrate the premiere, fielding questions from reporters as they made their way past screaming fans.

Travolta channeled his on-screen character Danny Zuko in a leather jacket, while Newton-John opted for a pink gown.

Newton-John and Travolta kissed at a "Grease" party that year.

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Newton-John and Travolta at a Paramount party.Brad Elterman/Getty Images

While attending a party for "Grease" at Paramount Studios the year of the film's premiere, the actors gave a glimpse of their on-screen chemistry by sharing a kiss.

Though the actors stayed in character as Sandy and Danny on set, their romance was limited to the script. In her autobiography, Newton-John recalls having a mutual "attraction" with Travolta but explains that they were both committed to other people.

"The truth is, it never went beyond friendship with John despite the fact that the fans wanted for us to become a couple in real life. We left the making out to Sandy and Danny, but the deep feeling of sisterly love I have for John continues to this day," she writes, per The Sunday Post.

Decades after they shot the film, Newton-John said "Grease" benefited from the fact that the actors never got together in real life.

"I think it kept the tension there and the chemistry. It might have been a real disaster had we decided to date or we had a falling out or something." she reportedly said on a 2018 episode of Mamamia podcast.

They traveled overseas to promote the film.

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Newton-John and Travolta at the American Film Festival in Deauville, France.Laurent MAOUS/Getty Images

The duo did press rounds for "Grease" at the 1978 American Film Festival in Deauville, France.

Newton-John and Travolta both walked the red carpet at the 50th annual Academy Awards.

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Newton-John and Travolta at the 1978 Oscars.Ron Galella/Getty Images

The costars wore formal attire to the 1978 Academy Awards.

They reunited on-screen for the 1983 film "Two of a Kind."

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The costars reunited for "Two of a Kind."Juergen Vollmer/Popperfoto/Getty Images

Travolta and Newton-John teamed up once again as the leads in "Two of a Kind," a 1983 romantic fantasy film directed by John Herzfeld.

Fans and critics weren't nearly as impressed by the movie as they were by "Grease" ("Two of a Kind" was nominated for several Razzle Awards and scored an 18% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes). However, the movie's soundtrack was certified platinum and featured numerous songs by Newton-John.

In 1992, they both went to an event celebrating the original "Grease" theater production's 20th anniversary.

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Newton-John and Travolta at the original "Grease" production's 20th anniversary celebration.Ron Galella, Ltd./Getty Images

To honor the original 1971 musical, written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, the movie stars attended a party at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City, California.

A decade later, they reunited with the "Grease" cast at Paramount Studio's 90th anniversary party.

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The "Grease" cast reunited in 2002.Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Newton-John and Travolta attended an event for Paramount Studio's 90th anniversary in 2002 along with other stars from "Grease."

The "Grease" costars gave a live performance of "You're the One That I Want" at the party.

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Newton-John and Travolta performed at Paramount Studio's 90th anniversary party.Steve Granitz/Getty Images

Travolta and Newton-John dueted the finale song from "Grease," incorporating some of the original choreography into their routine.

The following month, Newton-John, Travolta, and Kelly Preston posed for cameras at the One World, One Child Benefit concert.

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Newton-John, Travolta, and Preston at the One World, One Child Benefit Concert.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Newton-John spent time chatting with Travolta and his wife Preston at the event.

Preston, who had been married to Travolta since 1991, died of breast cancer in 2020. She was 57 years old.

After her death, Newton-John described the actress as a "radiant, beautiful light in the world" on an episode of "People."

Travolta walked the Penfolds Icon Gala red carpet hand-in-hand with Preston and Newton-John in 2006.

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Kelly Preston with Travolta and Newton-John.Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Newton-John joined the married couple at the event, at which Travolta presented the actress with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Travolta and Newton-John reunited at the G'Day USA Australia black tie gala in 2008.

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Travolta and Newton-John in 2008.Barry King/Getty Images

They attended the event at the Hollywood and Highland Grand Ballroom in Hollywood, California.

John Easterling, Newton-John's husband, spent time with Travolta at the 2010 Australia Week Black Tie Gala.

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Easterling, Newton-John, and Travolta at the 2010 Australia Week Black Tie Gala.Jean Baptiste Lacroix/Getty Images

Newton-John has been married to Easterling, an environmentalist and businessman, since 2008.

Travolta and Newton-John collaborated on a 2012 holiday album called "This Christmas."

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Travolta and Newton-John in the "I Think You Might Like It" music video.Olivia Newton-John/YouTube

The tracklist included a duet called "I Think You Might Like It," from John Farrar, the same songwriter behind "You're the One That I Want."

Newton-John and Travolta shot a holiday-themed music video for the song, which was Travolta's idea, he explained during an interview on SiriusXM.

"The little step we created was a homage to 'You're the One That I Want,'" he said.

Newton-John added: "Everything was spontaneous."

Travolta and Newton-John shared the stage at the 2018 G'Day USA Black Tie Gala in LA.

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Travolta and Newton-John spoke on stage at the 2018 G'Day USA Black Tie Gala.John Sciulli/Getty Images

The actors spoke on stage at the event, which was held at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown.

The costars showed off their dance moves at a "Grease" screening on the film's 40th anniversary.

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Newton-John and Travolta at a "Grease" screening in 2018.Steve Granitz/Getty Images

After four decades, Travolta and Newton-John still knew their "Grease" choreography.

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