‘Knots Landing’ star Donna Mills claims Sandy in ‘Grease’ was modeled after her: ‘I found out years later’

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Donna Mills claims she was the inspiration behind Sandy in “Grease.”

The actress, who starred in the “Dallas” spinoff “Knots Landing,” recently took to her Instagram and shared a video of herself dressed up as the character from the 1978 movie, a role made famous by Olivia Newton-John.

In the clip, the 81-year-old claimed she was the “model” for Sandy.

“Does the character Sandy from Grease look similar to me?’” she captioned the post. “Here’s why!”


“Did you know that I went to school with Jim Jacobs?” Mills said in the video. “Jim Jacobs, who wrote ‘Grease.’ Jim Jacobs, who used me as his model for Sandy. I didn’t know it at the time. But I found out years later. I was the original Sandy.”

In 2010, Jacobs explained to The Buffalo News how he and co-writer Warren Casey came up with the idea for “Grease.”

“We’re sitting around in my apartment in like ’69, and it was some cast party of a show,” Jacobs explained at the time. “Around one in the morning, there were still a few old potheads laying around, passed out on the floor. I was sick and tired of listening to Led Zeppelin or whatever the hell I had on the record player, and I dug out some of my old 45s. That’s the humble beginnings of it.

“I was playing Dion and the Belmonts, Little Richard and the Five Satins, and I said to Warren, ‘Man, wouldn’t that be a gas to do a Broadway show using this kind of music instead of that traditional ‘Brigadoon,’ ‘Oklahoma’ stuff that we all know?'” he added.

Donna Mills (left) claimed she served as the blueprint for Sandy in “Grease,” a character famously played by Olivia Newton-John.
(Getty Images)

“Grease” tells the tale of two teens in love in the 1950s — Sandy and Danny Zuko (John Travolta). The pair met while on summer vacation and reconnected at the start of the school year when Sandy attends Rydell High as a transfer student. The film also starred Jeff Conaway and Stockard Channing, among others.

In 2019, Newton-John told Fox News Digital she had a blast transforming into “bad” Sandy during filming.

“It was so much fun,” the 73-year-old explained. “I was playing Sandy for quite a while on set, and I got to know her as this sweet little girl in a poodle skirt. But then when I got to try on that bad girl look for shooting, I actually didn’t know what to expect. I just had my hair and makeup done.”

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John starred in "Grease," directed by Randal Kleiser, 1978.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John starred in “Grease,” directed by Randal Kleiser, 1978.
(Paramount Pictures/Fotos International/Getty Images)


“I walked on set wearing the costume while John [Travolta] was in the middle of filming a song,” she shared. “The reaction I got was so unexpected. First of all, [the cast] didn’t know who I was. And then I got all of this attention from the guys. I just thought, ‘Oh my goodness! Is this what it takes?’ It was an aha moment, a humorous one. I was playing a character, but it was a lot of fun for me.” 

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