’70s Flashback: Remembering the “Grease Day U.S.A.” TV Special

To promote the theatrical release of Grease , the hour-long TV special Grease Day U.S.A. was syndicated to stations across the United States. in June of 1978. A very strange time capsule of late-70s entertainment that ideally should be screened alongside of The Star Wars Holiday Special and Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, this oddball program features a mix of interviews with Grease stars Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta and producers Allan Carr and Robert Stigwood, footage from the Hollywood premiere of the film on June 9, 1978, and a bunch of anachronistic live versions of disco hits from the likes of Barry Gibb and The O’Jays (the latter of which delivers an amazing performance that deserves to be seen…or at least be featured in a better program).

The premise, if you can call it such a thing, is that the stars have come out for a premiere party of Grease. However, with this being the 1970s and all, the celebrity lineup includes Jodie Foster, Adam Rich, Rip Taylor, Alice Cooper and Leif Garrett, most of whom seem beamed in from a taping of The Brady Bunch Hour. Odder still is a lifeless performance from “The Grease Singers and Dancers” of “You’re the One That I Want” that blends the film’s showstopper with an Arthur Murray-choreographed dance called “The Grease Hustle” that is pure disco insanity. Elsewhere, Chevy Chase stops by to do some unfunny shtick and promote Modern Problems , and Mayor Thomas Bradley declares June 9th “Grease Day.” (It’s sadly probably not still commemorated).

It’s all as confusing and seventies-centric as a night at Plato’s Retreat. In other words, unmissable.

This is the sort of retro hell that nostalgia lovers can’t get enough of, and it has never been included as a special feature on any of the film’s various home video releases over the years. With that in mind, here’s the video rarity Grease Day U.S.A.. It’s not the time, place, motion, or way that you are feeling. But it is an A/V oddity that provides a faded Polaroid snapshot of exactly what the pop culture landscape was like when Grease first hit theaters 40 years ago.