Grease Actress Annette Charles Remembered
08.06.11 by Chris
Everyone who has seen Grease remembers Annette Charles' role as Cha Cha. Charles passed away Wednesday at the age of 63.
Lisa Lucas, a producer at ReelzChannel, knew Charles and shared some stories about the actress who went on to become a professor and social worker.
Charles started out as a dancer in the musical scene in New York City. Being half Chicano and half Italian, she pursued the few ethnic roles that were available at the time.
She had to really fight hard to be seen but she was really talented and kept going.
After starring in Broadway plays like West Side Story, Charles went to L.A. to pursue acting. She quickly got parts in some sitcoms but she got her big break when she was cast as Cha Cha in Grease.
It was a really casual thing. Nobody knew what a phenomenon it was going to become. It was like camp. Everyone had fun every day.
When it came to her dancing scenes with John Travolta, Charles said was surprised at how good of a dancer he was.
He was super sexy. She was just so thrilled to dance with him. She was a classically trained dancer and she didn't know he was going to be as good as he was. She said, 'He was the real deal.'
But it wasn't all fun on the set. Lucas told a story of Charles nearly dying on set.
When they were filming the Thunder Road scene, she had a temperature of 103. She was in severe pain. If she had told the director she was really sick, he would have said, 'If you can't do it, we'll get someone else.' It was an all-day shoot, she had to finish. Nobody knew. [After filming] she was rushed to the hospital. When you look at it, it shows how good of an actress she was.
Lucas said Charles always appreciated the doors that Grease opened for her.
She was grateful to Grease for everything. She did the reunion tour, the singalongs. She did it all. She as really proud of it.
After Grease, Charles decided to do more with her life. She went to New York to study social work and became a professor at California State University Northridge.
She was really into getting people to accept their identity. She made a commitment that it doesn't matter where you came from, if you had a dream it was possible. She got a lot of joy out of teaching. She was really into giving back to her community.
Charles was diagnosed with a rare lung cancer and died two months later.
She was an amazing person. I can't believe she's gone. She had so much more to give.