Elvis Presley Once Turned Down Role Alongside Olivia Newton-John

by Taylor Cunningham

Elvis Presley almost starred alongside Olivia Newton-John in Grease, but he passed on the opportunity for reasons that he never shared.

The now-legendary movie began filming in 1977. At the time, Elvis had been expressing regret over his screen-side career. While he understood that he had built a reputation as one of the most iconic singers in history, he thought his movies fell flat. He personally hated nearly everything he starred in, and he hoped to make at least one blockbuster during his lifetime.

That year, his dreams seemed to be answered when Grease producer Allan Carr offered him a cameo in his anticipated musical. Carr had hoped that Elvis would play Teen Angel, the singing spirit who appeared to Frenchie when she became a beauty school dropout.

If the casting had panned out, The King of Rock and Roll would have floated in on a cloud to sing, “Your future, so unclear now, what’s left of your career now?” and convince the hairstyling hopeful to go back to high school.

But for some reason, Elvis declined the offer, and he never explained why. So, Frankie Avalon stepped into the part, and the rest is history.

While Elvis seemingly snubbed the film, Avalon’s portrayal of Teen Angel was a clear nod to Elvis’ pop-culture image. And eerily, Avalon filmed the scene on August 16, 1977—the same day that Elvis Presley died.

“It was all over the news, so everyone knew,” director Randall Kleiser remembered. “We did this number, and everybody kind of looked at each other like: ‘Yeah, this is creepy.'”

Olivia Newton-John Never Had the Chance to Meet The King of Rock ‘Up Close and Personal’

Olivia Newton-John was sad to miss the opportunity to work with the music great. Though she was already an icon in her own right, she had always been a fan of Elvis. And while she had been lucky enough to watch him on stage several times, she never got to meet him in person.

“He’s got a magic on stage,” she said of the singer in 1974. “And I’d heard a lot of people saying he’s this and that, and I always wanted to make my own judgment of him, and he was magic as soon as he comes on stage-whatever he does, people will accept.”

And the feelings were mutual. Elvis also had immense respect for Olivia Newton-John. He showcased that during a concert when he sang one of her hits—while she was in attendance.

“Elvis shocked me and sang my song Let Me Be There,” Newton-John wrote in her 2018 book, Don’t Stop Believin’ .“It blew me away to hear him say my name because I was such a big fan.”

“After the show, I went backstage to meet him and got another big surprise. Doris Day was there, too – I’ve always adored her,” she continued. “Doris was warm and welcoming, but sadly I never met Elvis up close and personal. His road manager said there was an emergency and Elvis had to leave the building, Literally!”