After so many years, I don’t think there’s ever been a Rizzo as charming or easy to connect with as Stockard Channing.

Channing was a wonderful actor, and her singing in Grease was amazing. But now, at 80 years old, she looks very different, almost like a different person.

Paramount Pictures/Getty Images

The first movie I ever saw Stockard Channing in was called “The Big Bus,” and I thought it was really funny. But back then, I never imagined she would have such an amazing career.

Today, Stockard Channing is most famous for playing Betty Rizzo in the movie “Grease,” which came out in 1978. It’s a popular American romantic comedy musical based on a stage musical from 1971. Many people agree that Channing did the best job of all the actresses who played Rizzo.

You might also know Channing from the TV show “The West Wing,” where she played Abbey Bartlet, the wife of the President. People loved her chemistry with Martin Sheen, who played the President.

“It just worked,” she said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2020. “We had this chemistry right from the start. I’m not sure why, but it was there, and it never went away. It was a happy accident.”

Let’s dig deeper into the most important part of Stockard Channing’s career. Honestly, she hasn’t been in any big movies since “Grease,” even though she’s still acting in films and on Broadway.

Channing, who’s been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards and 7 Tony Awards, seems okay with being best known for playing the tough girl Rizzo in “Grease.”

But is that all there is to her story?

In 1973, she had a big role in a TV movie called “The Girl Most Likely to…,” which was a dark comedy about revenge. People were really into it at the time.

“A lot of folks talk about ‘Grease,’ but back then, just as many people would stop me on the street about that other movie. It was about revenge, and viewers at home would think, ‘Wow, someone gets me.’ It was a big hit,” she says.

Channing admits she’s only watched “Grease” twice.

“I used to be a bit grumpy about ‘Grease’ because I thought it was just for kids. But now, I think it’s pretty amazing. I’m really proud of it,” she told The Times in 2019.

Channing, who was born in Manhattan, was 33 when she played Rizzo, and playing a high schooler wasn’t easy for her.

Wikipedia Commons

“I was much older than Rizzo in real life, but I had to forget about that. I had to go back to how I felt when I was her age, or even younger. Dealing with all the complicated stuff teenagers go through, like hormones and figuring out who they are. Knowing I was older made Rizzo feel even more isolated,” Channing told Broadway World.

Channing always loved acting, so when she got the chance to play Rizzo, she was thrilled. Her performance made her really famous in the late 1970s. She even won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture Supporting Actress. But after “Grease,” it was hard for her to find the same success.

She tried to have her own TV shows, like “Stockard Channing in Just Friends” in 1979 and “The Stockard Channing Show” in 1980, but they didn’t do well, and her career slowed down.

But Channing didn’t give up. She kept acting, appearing in lots of movies and plays that people loved. Her most recent movie, “Angry Neighbors,” came out in 2022. With her beautiful looks and calm confidence, she kept going and proved herself as a talented actress.

Stockard Channing in 2011 / Wikipedia Commons / Sean Koo

In recent years, Channing has been involved in theater production in London, where she currently resides. She used to live in Maine with her partner of 25 years but moved 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 told The Times.

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