In Grease, Betty Rizzo is a memorable character. The vulgar, edgy girl who would rather smoke cigarettes with her Pink Ladies than be crowned homecoming queen. Rizzo is a fan favorite of the movie and is portrayed by award-winning actress Stockard Channing, who is most known for her work on The West Wing, Practical Magic, and Six Degrees of Separation. The contrast between her and Olivia Newton John’s persona, with their opposing ideologies and lifestyles, was everything that Olivia Newton John’s character was not. Rizzo was darker, meaner, and undoubtedly tougher, which enhanced the impact of her sensitive solo, “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.”
Several years have passed since the release of Grease and the less popular Grease 2, but Stockard Channing’s career hasn’t slowed down. Channing has worked on both Broadway and the big screen throughout the years, and she has garnered a number of accolades in the process. But since Grease, what exactly has the genuine Rizzo been doing? Let us give you the details.
When Stockard Channing played Rizzo in Grease, she wasn’t a teenager.
Grease is an iconic movie that only comes around once every generation, but Stockard Channing said in an interview with Variety that her role as Rizzo in Grease was just a “summer job.” She said, “I needed the gig. Work looked to be drying up for the actress after her early breakthrough in the industry with films like The Fortune.
Allan Carr, the Grease screenwriter and co-producer, allegedly called Channing at “the midnight hour” and offered her the part of 17-year-old Rizzo. She admitted, “I was grateful just to pay my rent for a few months. Given my background, I felt it was a bit odd, but I replied, “Well, it’s a job like any other, and I’m going to do it.”
Despite the movie’s enormous popularity, Channing claimed to have only watched it twice—once at the premiere and once at the 20th anniversary screening. She delivered this blow after confessing she hadn’t seen Grease 2, the movie’s sequel. To be completely honest, she said, “I’ve barely seen Grease 1.” I have other things to do, she joked when asked why.
Stockard Channing has two of her own shows after performing as Rizzo in Grease.
Stockard Channing went on to star in The Stockard Channing Show and Just Friends after becoming popular as Rizzo in Grease. Just Friends, sometimes known as Stockard Channing in Just Friends, was released in 1979, not long after Grease. It featured Susan, a recently divorced character played by Channing, as she relocated from Boston to Los Angeles in order to start over.
According to a 2015 interview with the actress, the show was renamed The Stockard Channing Show and had a new cast the next season. There isn’t much information available regarding any of these series, although Channing did let fans know that she didn’t want it to be called The Stockard Channing Show. She acknowledged that the moniker “embarrassed” her in a Q&A with the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. She said, “I felt really uncomfortable about it.
Channing also mentioned the difficulties that came with working on sitcoms like The Stockard Channing Show or Out of Practice, in which she had a starring role years later. Even though she worked on those shows decades apart, she claimed that when it came to dealing with network executives and business politics, they always encountered the same problems. She added in the Q&A, “I applaud anybody who makes a sitcom work because it’s so tough.
Stockard Channing began her start in theater while attending Harvard University in the late 1960s, the actress specialized to Broadway before playing Rizzo in Grease and other parts in the film industry. Before performing in Two Gentlemen of Verona: The Musical on Broadway, she had parts in a number of off-Broadway productions.
Following a brief hiatus from theater, Channing appeared in a number of motion pictures, including Grease, before making a comeback to the stage in 1979 to lead in the musical They’re Playing Our Song. Channing admitted that she has a special place for the early musicals she appeared in during a Q&A with the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. It’s both thrilling and terrifying, she added. “Nothing like it exists.”
Things seemed to be going particularly well for Channing once he was cast in the Broadway production of Joe Egg in 1985. She acknowledged during the Q&A session that she felt like her life was on track. She received the Tony Award for Best Actress that year for her work in the play, indicating that it appeared that everyone else shared that opinion.
Rizzo from Grease appeared in Six Degrees of Separation multiple times.
It’s uncommon for performers to play the same character on both the stage and the movie, but seasoned actors like Stockard Channing, who played Rizzo in Grease, can do it effortlessly. Channing played the lead role in both the Broadway production of Six Degrees of Separation and the movie adaptation. She received nominations for a number of significant accolades, including an Oscar, for her performances.
Channing revealed to Broadway that she first performed the piece in England before returning to complete the film. The playwright only agreed to produce the film if Channing kept her character because she was so good in the original play, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Channing continued to tell Broadway that it was a fascinating project to work on. And I believe that redoing anything, at least for an actor, actually helps. She described having the opportunity to appear in both films as a really amazing opportunity, but what was the best part? “You know your lines,” she said in jest.
Years after playing Rizzo in Grease, Stockard Channing portrayed a “evil woman” in the film.
In the 1996 film Moll Flanders, Stockard Channing featured opposite Morgan Freeman and Robin Wright. The movie follows Wright’s character Moll Flanders as she seeks a way to live after her mother is put to death. Wright’s character meets Mrs. Allworthy, the headmistress of a brothel played by Channing, as she is looking for employment.
Although not the best boss in the world, the affluent Mrs. Allworthy is one of the story’s most influential female characters. She informs Moll Flanders that “some of the first guys in London come through my door.” Wouldn’t you wish to be able to control them? In the movie, she plays a pretty cunning character, and Channing does a fantastic job portraying a character we want to dislike.
Channing provided some insight into what it was like to play a role who was very different from Rizzo in Grease or, as Shear termed it, a “evil woman” in an interview with Rhonda Shear. “Sometimes, it was uncomfortable,” the actress said. Mrs. Allworthy is not a psycho, she added. “She is a typical, average, venial human creature who is filled with avarice and aggravation, but she can occasionally be sort of hilarious.”
Given that Rizzo from Grease only appeared briefly in The First Wives Club, you might not have known that she played a crucial part in the movie. Okay, so she wasn’t portraying Rizzo, but Stockard Channing did have a small role as Cynthia, the main characters’ former college acquaintance.
When Channing’s character learns that her ex-husband Gil has married his mistress, she gives her pricey pearl necklace to her maid (the same necklace the other “first wives” also own), writes letters to her old friends to explain the situation, and then promptly hangs herself from her penthouse balcony. It is implied, but not stated, that she committed herself because of her ex-recent husband’s marriage.
Despite the fact that Channing’s cameo is only a brief one, her sequence is undoubtedly one of the most significant ones. The three companions in the movie wouldn’t have felt the need to band together and get revenge on their respective ex-husbands if Cynthia hadn’t been there.
In Practical Magic, the Rizzo in Grease actor revealed her witchy side.
While many fans know Stockard Channing as Rizzo from Grease, many more first encountered the actress in the 1998 witchy classic Practical Magic, which is renowned for its perfect song selections, iconic 90s attire, and emphasis on the strength of family. But this movie’s casting is also fantastic!
The story of the sisters, played by Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, is the primary emphasis of the film, although Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest’s portrayals of the sisters’ aunts also steal several scenes.
Although the movie wasn’t a big hit when it first came out, it has since gained cult status, and we firmly believe that part of the reason for this is Carol Channing’s outstanding portrayal of the eccentric Aunt Frances. Despite the film’s initial poor reviews, Entertainment Weekly announced in 2019 that HBO Max has given the go-ahead for a new prequel series. And what’s more thrilling news? Although set in the 1960s, the series will center on Channing’s character.
After playing Rizzo in Grease, Stockard Channing received numerous Emmys.
Since playing Rizzo in Grease, one of Stockard Channing’s most well-known performances has been her recurrent one as Dr. Abbey Bartlet, the president’s wife, in The West Wing, which lasted from 1999 to 2006. The show itself was extremely popular. According to IMDb, it had over 250 award nominations during its seven-season run and won 120 of them. Several of those nominations were due to Channing’s performance, and in 2002 she even took home an Emmy for it.
The West Wing was extremely current when it first aired in the early 2000s, as fans of the program are aware. Even Channing acknowledged that viewers of the series believed the program had access to information that the general public did not. In a 2017 interview, Channing recalled that at the time, “it was so parallel to the current administration that people said ‘Oh come on, you must have access to information we don’t have access to because Aaron, Sorkin, the creator, would write these episodes that were so prescient about what happened six weeks later.
Channing also disclosed that, at first, she didn’t have a significant part, which nearly prevented her from accepting the job. She and Martin Sheen, who portrayed President Bartlet, however, had such a great on-screen chemistry that she was added to the program occasionally.
Rizzo from Grease had a good decade in the 2000s.
Stockard Since his appearance as Rizzo in Grease, Channing has taken on a number of entertaining, fictional roles. She did, however, play the more somber Judy Shepard in The Matthew Shepard Story in 2002. The film focused on the prosecution and punishment of Matthew Shepard’s murderers, who horribly assaulted and killed him in 1998 because he was gay. Channing portrayed his distraught and tormented mother. The film itself had a lot of impact, and Channing’s portrayal of the part earned her two awards: a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Emmy Award.
Channing acknowledged that the movie was a challenging endeavor to get off the ground during a Q&A with the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. Despite Goldie Hawn being one of the producers, it looked like nobody wanted to hear this story. Even when we finished the movie, she admitted, “it required a lot of pressure to get it out there and get it supported, etc.” “Because it brought attention to what had occurred among so many people, I believe it was a magnificent thing to have been created. Beyond just being another television movie, it received a lot of criticism and caused a lot of waves.”
Stockard Channing’s next move was to find a new program for her to showcase her acting skills after portraying Rizzo in Grease and after her award-winning TV performances. That chance arrived with the brief but incredibly amusing Out of Practice.
The program featured Christopher Gorham’s portrayal of therapist Ben Barnes as he sought to make his own way in the world while living in the shadow of his opulent family. Gorham’s character, Dr. Lydia Barnes, is a status-obsessed cardiologist, and Channing played her mother. Her ex-husband is none other than Henry Winkler. Also starring in the program was Ty Burrell, a pre-Modern Family.
Sadly, the show only aired for one season, despite receiving positive reviews from publications like LA Weekly.
Rizzo from Grease has appeared on stage numerous times since 2008
After appearing in movies and television shows, Stockard Channing returned to Broadway in 2008 with the revival of Pal Joey. Although there were some negative reviews, Stockard Channing praised the Vera Simpson role. In 2011, Channing appeared in Other Desert Cities in addition to Pal Joey. According to the website for the program, she then switched to It’s Only A Play, which also starred Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, and Rupert Grint.
Working with such a famous group of actors, according to the Grease actress, was like being a member of a basketball team. She told Broadway World, “You have to play the game, and you have to play it with each other. It is truly a collective effort.
Channing also twice played the lead in the movie Apologia, first in London in 2017 and then in New York in 2018. The actress admitted to Broadway that Kristin Miller’s complicated and perhaps misunderstood personality drew her to the role. There weren’t any clichés, she insisted. “And it was also funny!”
Fans of The Good Wife will likely remember Stockard Channing from her role as Veronica Loy, the mother of Julianna Margulies’ character, Alicia Florrick. According to IMDb, the performer appeared in the program from 2012 till its conclusion in 2016. The description of Channing’s character, Veronica, as being “mercurial and influenced by her 1960s counterculture childhood,” appeared in one of the early announcements of Channing’s hiring on Entertainment Weekly. The character sounds a bit like Rizzo from Grease, don’t you think?
The first time Channing’s character appeared on the program was in the episode “A Defense of a Marriage,” in which after the death of Veronica’s husband, Malcom, Veronica travels to the city to seek legal assistance from her daughter. Veronica is upset that her late husband abruptly removed her from his will since she had cheated on him. Whatever the purpose of Channing’s presence, it was hilarious to watch Channing and fellow Broadway veteran Mary Beth Peil, who played Alicia’s mother-in-law Jackie, constantly trade insults. This continued well into the final episode Channing participated in.
In the swinging late 1950s and 1960s, a time famed for hippie culture, rock music, and women’s emancipation, Stockard Channing grew up, much like Rizzo from Grease. And because she had grown up as a girl in the 1950s, this era of freedom contrasted sharply with her more traditional upbringing. She explained to Broadway that, for someone her age, “you truly were raised with an expectation on a pretty restricted range, especially as a woman.” She said, “I had a pretty strict upbringing. And in the early 1960s, chaos reigned; some of us seized the opportunity, while others didn’t. As for Channing, she essentially “went off and joined the circus.”
“Even though a lot has changed since the 1950s and 1960s, Channing still considers herself to be a feminist. People frequently perceive feminists as wanting to create a “we and them” mentality, she said. But that’s not at all how I think of it.”
Immediately following her role as Rizzo in Grease, Stockard Channing met her longtime spouse.
You might not be familiar with Stockard Channing’s personal life or romantic relationships because she is not an actor who receives a lot of attention from tabloids. She has, however, been married to director of photography Daniel Gillham for more than three decades. IMDb claims that the couple first connected while Channing was working on the camera crew of A Time of Destiny in 1988, just a few years after he portrayed Rizzo in Grease. Despite spending a lot of time together, the couple, like several other celebrities, has never wed or given birth to a kid together.
Channing’s previous relationships weren’t quite successful before she met Gilham and they dated for years. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, she went through four divorces before beginning her connection with the filmmaker. According to her, “the only one that wasn’t a marriage lasts 15 years.” “Nothing about it is Hollywood-like. Nobody marries with the intention of getting divorced.”
However, it’s interesting to note that the actress’ stage name actually came from her first marriage, which she had at the age of 19. She changed her name from Susan Stockard to Stockard Channing by dropping her first name and adding that of her first husband.