Stockard Channing is, in my opinion, the most endearing and genuine Rizzo we’ve seen in all these years.
Channing was a terrific performer, and her singing in Grease was unforgettable, but at age 79, she is hardly recognisable.
Getty Images/Paramount Pictures
The Big Bus was the first film in which I saw Stockard Channing, and it was instantly one of my favourites. I never would have guessed then that she would go on to accomplish everything that she has.
Stockard Channing is a household name because of her role as Betty Rizzo in the 1978 American musical romantic comedy film Grease, which was adapted from the 1971 musical of the same name. There have been many others who have said it, but Channing was the best Rizzo.
The role of First Lady Abbey Bartlett on The West Wing made Channing a household name. The veteran actress’s chemistry with Martin Sheen, who portrayed President Josiah Barlet, was acclaimed.
She told Entertainment Weekly in the year 2020, “It just worked.”
There was instant chemistry between us. Whatever it was, it stuck around and we never got over it. It was a fortunate coincidence.
The lead role of Beth Rizzo
But let’s go further into Channing’s crowning achievement. Even though she has continued to perform in films and on Broadway, she hasn’t acted in any big movie picture since Grease.
The actress, who has been nominated for 13 Emmys and seven Tonys, is quite content with being most known for her role as the Pink Ladies’ resident bad girl Beth Rizzo in Grease.
Is that the full truth though?
In 1973, Channing’s career took off somewhat when she starred in the vengeance-themed dark comedy The Girl Most Likely to… for television.
When I was younger, I was often stopped on the street by strangers who wanted to discuss the movie Grease with me. For the simple reason that its central theme is vengeance, making its viewers feel as if “no one else is watching” or “at last, someone gets me.” I’m not joking around. Aeons ago, it was the week’s most popular film by a wide margin. “Getting even always pays off,” she avers.
Channing claims she has seen Grease just twice.
Before, I disliked Grease because I associated it with tweens. It’s incredible now, however. She gushed about it to The Times in 2019: “I am very proud of it.”
The New York City native was 33 years old when she played Rizzo, so she had to work at convincingly portraying a high school student.
Commons on Wikipedia
Although I was several years older than she was, I forced myself to remember how I felt when I was her age or younger. Hormones, sexuality, and teenage complexity: a heady mix. Channing told Broadway World, “I actually was older, and I believe it emphasised to the loneliness of Rizzo.
Channing, who had always wanted to be an actress, was ecstatic when she was cast as Rizzo, and her performance propelled her to superstar status in the late 1970s. She won the People’s Choice Award for Favourite Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her work in Grease, but the New York native struggled to replicate that success in subsequent films.
Both of the comedies starring the adored actress, Stockard Channing (The Stockard Channing Show, 1980) and Stockard Channing (Just Friends, 1979), were flops, thus ending her career.
However, Channing, who resembled Elizabeth Taylor and exuded confidence, persisted in her career and went on to star in a number of critically acclaimed films and theatre productions. Her most recent film appearance was in the 2022 release of Angry Neighbours.
Stockard Channing, 2011. Photo by Sean Koo for Wikipedia Commons
The London Exodus
Channing, who presently lives in London, has been active in theatre production in recent years. She and her companion of 25 years lived in Maine until she relocated to England in 2019.
“Living on my own here during the pandemic, I was sort of taking the ride with the rest of the country,” she said to The Times.
Channing has avoided the spotlight in her personal life. No children have been born to the “reckless” and restless Grease star.
She has gone through four marriages and two divorces. As for the present, she takes solace in her dog, who has been at her side for years.
Reconstructive surgery for Stockard Channing
Channing has also been in the spotlight for her evolving appearance in recent years. In 2017, she was interviewed on the British morning programme Lorraine.
Many viewers were more concerned with what had happened to the Grease star’s looks than with what Channing had to say about her career and parts she had done. Many people were taken aback by how drastically she had transformed, prompting Twitter theories and tabloid pieces.
“Oh, God, what has Rizzo done to herself?” “Shocked at how Stockard Channing looked on Lorraine,” one viewer remarked, while another shared similar sentiments. They should leave plastic surgeons alone.
— Lorraine (@lorraine) October 17, 2017
A doctor was quoted as saying that Channing must have taken botox in a recent issue of the Daily Mail. Fortunately, however, some people stood up for Channing. I mean, obviously, a 79-year-old lady would look different than she did when she was 20.
Channing is just as cool and sultry as she was in her “Rizzo” days, in my opinion. In 2011, when being interviewed by Out magazine, the actress revealed that she did “everything I f—ing can” to maintain her fitness.
When you reach a certain age, you find yourself cast often in the role of mum. Perhaps her attitude might change if she had children of her own, “but I really hate bumping up against all these guys’ memories of their mothers, which, trust me, aren’t so hot,” she joked.
Perhaps they were big fans of The Golden Girls. I could have a lot more appreciation for someone who grew up watching The Golden Girls. I’d like to believe things have improved since then, and they certainly aren’t associating with ladies of this age anymore.
New York City’s Laura Pels Theatre hosted the Broadway opening night performance of “Apologia” by the Roundabout Theatre Company on October 16, 2018, and Stockard Channing was there to celebrate. (Image by Getty Images/Walter McBride)
In Grease, Stockard Channing was fantastic as Rizzo. Best of luck to you in the future!