John Travolta has been in a lot of movies since he first hit screens in the ’70s. But one picture tends to get brought up more than any other: the 1978 mega-hit Grease. And come 2018 Grease was the word all over again, as it was the movie’s 40th anniversary. What’s more, Travolta found himself celebrating that milestone in a delightful way when he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
As a young actor, Travolta had quite a bit of success. In 1976, for instance, he played the villain in still-iconic Stephen King horror movie Carrie; he also portrayed Vinnie Barbarino in the ABC sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter for four years from 1975. But by the turn of the decade, Travolta was a massive movie star. Why? Well, it was all thanks to two movies in particular: Saturday Night Fever and Grease.
But Travolta very nearly didn’t get the star-making role of Danny Zuko in Grease. Initially, the producers had wanted Henry Winkler of Happy Days fame to play him; Winkler turned down the job, however, as he feared being typecast as a ’50s teen. Travolta eventually came on board, then, with two conditions: he would have Elvis-style black hair, and he would get to sing “Greased Lightnin’.”