Donna Mills: Soap actor, 81, claims she was real inspiration behind Grease’s Sandy

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Donna Mills, star of American soap opera Knots Landing, has claimed the character of Sandy in Jim Jacobs’s musical Grease was inspired by her.

Mills, 81, posted a video on Instagram on Monday (20 June) in which she appears dressed up as Sandy. The actor sports two looks – a feminine pink sweater with pearls, and a black leather jacket over a lacy top like the character’s “female greaser” attire.

Then, she says: “Did you know I went to school with Jim Jacobs? Jim Jacobs who wrote Grease? Jim Jacobs who used me as his model for Sandy?

I didn’t know it at the time but I found out years later – I was the original Sandy.”

Jacobs’s musical, which he co-wrote with his late friend Warren Casey, has spawned several Hollywood productions – including Randal Kleiser’s ’s iconic 1978 film starring John Travolta as Danny Zuko, opposite Olivia Newton-John’s Sandy.

Both Jacobs and Mills reportedly attended Chicago’s Taft High School.

The Independent has contacted a representative for Jacobs for comment.

In an earlier interview with The Buffalo News, Jacobs said he had the idea for the musical – set in the fictitious Rydell High school and based on his own experiences – after he got involved with the local community theatre scene in Chicago.

“We’re sitting around in my apartment in like 1969, and it was some cast party of a show,” Jacobs said at the time. “Around one in the morning, there were still a few old potheads laying around, passed out on the floor. I was sick and tired of listening to Led Zeppelin or whatever the hell I had on the record player, and I dug out some of my old 45s. That’s the humble beginnings of it.

“I was playing Dion and the Belmonts, Little Richard and the Five Satins, and I said to Warren, ‘Man, wouldn’t that be a gas to do a Broadway show using this kind of music instead of that traditional ‘Brigadoon,’ ‘Oklahoma’ stuff that we all know?’”

Mills made her acting debut in 1966, with a role on CBS’s soap opera The Secret Storm. She also appeared in Woody Allen’s Broadway comedy Don’t Drink the Water the same year.

She landed the role of Abby Cunningham on the second season of Knots Landing – a spinoff of CBS’s family saga Dallas. Knots Landing’s Abby was among the show’s most popular characters, and Mills played her until 1989.

Mills will next be seen in Jordan Peele’s horror comedy Nope which is scheduled for release next month.