'Grease' actress Annette Charles dies at 63
August 4th, 2011
06:19 PM ET

'Grease' actress Annette Charles dies at 63

Just a few months after her "Grease" co-star Jeff Conaway died, actress Annette Charles, known to "Grease" fans as Cha Cha, passed away at age 63, CNN has confirmed.

Her rep says that she died at her home in Los Angeles on Wednesday night due to complications from cancer. According to TMZ, she'd learned of her condition just a few months ago.

Of course, Charles is best known for her sultry role as Cha Cha DiGregorio in the 1978 movie "Grease." Her character memorably kicked up her heels as "the best dancer at St. Bernadette's," stealing the attention of John Travolta's Danny Zuko during Rydell High's televised dance competition.

Charles went on to roles in "The Incredible Hulk" TV series and "Magnum, P.I."

Filed under: Celebrities • movies

soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. 3d porn

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    April 19, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
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    August 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lekan


    August 12, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. Michael

    I think they called her Cha Cha. 😉

    August 7, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Peg

    If you don't care about this tragic event then don't leave a message saying so. NEVER speak ill of the dead. This is a sad story. She was a great dancer & the movie Grease rocked. Have respect for the dead, their family & friends and stop being so hateful people. I hope she lived her life happy! God bless her & Jeff and may they be happy reuniting again in Heaven dancing happily to the celebration of eternity as they did in life!

    August 5, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. frank

    w0w! The Grease Curse Continues ... First it's Crater Face, then Kinicky ... then Cha Cha ... who's next?

    August 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. drew

    Olivia was upset at Cha Cha dancing with John.....Cha Cha knew he was gay!

    August 5, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hanna

    Awful video – please get a better tribute for this fine woman!

    August 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. matt

    Stockard Channing's dance number in the bedroom was great. The short top, underwares visible at times.

    August 5, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. T.R.

    Wow, it's incredible just how much that video sucked.

    August 5, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Faulkner's Liver

    Celebrity obsession equates to lack of any personal achievements. Instead of watching hackneyed "cinema" for the umpteenth teen, try getting out of the house. I'm just saying....

    August 5, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. ONJ

    Please let John Travolta be next.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  13. Me

    mswalli- I've reported people before on cnn and they do nothing about it, so don't hold your breath.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  14. Josh

    How old was Annette, when she played a "teenager" in Grease?

    August 5, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      Seriously, I don't think there was a single teenager in the cast of the movie "Grease". I love that movie, anyway! 🙂

      August 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Handjive

    Lol. Did she ever smoke? Too funny. I agree with the other posters about how you can get cancer even if you have never smoked. Cancer is a sneaky b!tch. Smoking can cause many things in some people and nothing in others. Cancer can make an appearance out of nowhere even in people in the best condition. Anybody remember the movie Brian's song?

    August 5, 2011 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
  16. Peace

    @ marin, Your right, not all cancer is from smoking. I have had skin cancer (squamis cell carsinoma)(sp?) twice. Luckily, I noticed early & had surgery right away. My neighbor has same type of cancer, didn't see dr till it was almost too late. Chemo, radiation, feeding tube etc...He's in his late 40's. So to all of you out there, wear your sunscreen! (Glad I lived to say that to you!)

    August 5, 2011 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
  17. denise

    A beautiful lady. Sorry for the loss RIP now

    August 5, 2011 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
  18. Kendall

    c'etait la copinde de celui qui est mort il y a seulement qques mois, dans Grease

    August 5, 2011 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
  19. Butterfly12

    Out of the blue, my 3 yr. old started talking to a "Cha Cha" on his play phone yesterday??? I was wondering who Cha Cha was, now I know. lol RIP:(

    August 5, 2011 at 4:16 am | Report abuse |
  20. Laurie

    Wow... that's the most annoying video editing I think I've ever seen.

    August 5, 2011 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Laurie

      May she rest in peace. I only saw her in GREASE, but she was great. 63 is too young to die. My thoughts & prayers to her family.

      August 5, 2011 at 3:36 am | Report abuse |
  21. extremecenter

    I did like that movie. 63 is so young but at least she didn't suffer too long. RIP. See ya in heaven.

    August 5, 2011 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
  22. mswalli

    oh p!ss on her

    August 5, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  23. Lou from NH

    A classy lady and great actress – her role in "Grease" will always be remember...RIP...

    August 5, 2011 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  24. diamond

    wow i cant believe she gone i like how she played cha cha she can dance

    August 5, 2011 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  25. brokenteeth

    She was a hot .

    August 5, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  26. LuciousLB


    August 4, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary Canada

      LOL yes, and everyday she goes to the prom, and her dancing gets better and better

      August 25, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  27. sdhjdshchdh

    For the life of me, i cannot watch grease. Not even if u paid me

    August 4, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  28. debbie

    She was a classy lady from St. Bernadettes. RIP Annette.

    August 4, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Oh Well

    who cares? gone gone gone. had money and fame now its done. sorry

    August 4, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  30. tdot

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5rSrOIwJLU. Here's that whole scene. This video they posted sucks.

    August 4, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Mary

    She was so good in Grease. Gone too soon. RIP Annette.

    August 4, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Beautiful Vixen

    RIP lady

    August 4, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  33. sothen...

    Sandy was such a whiner

    August 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  34. steve

    a sad day to a beautiful woman
    she was made for that part!
    only 63
    life isn't fair to many who pass thru this world too soon!
    RIP gorgeous!

    August 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  35. sam

    Sad, but what's with the video, it SUCKS!

    August 4, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  36. name is mike

    who this dum old ladey anyway

    August 4, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  37. arturotorres


    August 4, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Burbank

    In all honesty the dancing in this number was pretty average (mostly due to under-choreographig so Travolta, who barely knew how to dance, could look good too) but what a gorgeous, gorgeous woman! She was great in that part too. What a shame to die so young. R.I.P.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Little Lulu

      What a ridiculous remark on both counts. Travolta danced in the road company of GREASE before he worked on WELCOME BACK, COTTER. They both had to dance their asses off in this movie and did a terrific job of it. Sorry you don't like watching real dancers in action.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      One more thing, Lulu. I grew up in Burbank, which is why the screen name. I am well aware of the Kotter show and Travolta in those early days, saw it in person too. A freind of mine was a camera man on that show. Lived within a 10-15 minute walk of NBC.

      August 4, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  39. chris_n_sd1001

    I loved Annette Charles! My condolences and prayers go out to family and relatives. She will be missed.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  40. M. Carter

    How many more – famous or not – do we have to lose to cancer? Demand more from (so-called) "cancer research". Make them accountable for all the zillions they collect in the name of cancer research. Condolences to her family and friends.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Botterill

      No kidding about the cancer research, wonder what chemo drug companies are doing with the money lol
      Rip Annette

      August 6, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  41. The Selfish Meme

    So sad. Was she a smoker? I wonder what lead to her cancer and if it was something she could of caught early. She was great. Thank you Ms Charles.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      everyone doesn't smoke and die of cancer
      while we all know it's a terrible thing to do to our bodies
      my next door neighbor was 96 and died when the heart just gave out
      he smoked 2 packs a day for over 80 years. While i'm not implying that people should chance it. Many smoke and never have health issues. The luck of the draw I guess! I wouldn't chance it!

      August 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Thomas

    What a character! God bless you for what you gave us.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Dawn

    After all these years i still look up my vhs collection and watch Grease, without ever getting tired of it. The best scene is the dance when "Cha Cha" and "Danny" smoked the floor up. RIP Ms. Charles

    August 4, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  44. mark in nyc

    saint bernadettes mourns cha cha's passing.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  45. sheppard

    @jack – you got all the "stupid" covered here.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Michael Dominici

    Great dancer, great scene, great movie. Worst video editing EVER! What a disgrace!

    August 4, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  47. MZMILO

    Annette was not only a great dance but a wonderful singer – and a genuinely nice human being. She will be missed!

    August 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  48. JJ

    Did you people really have to pick the WORST EDITED VIDEO of this woman's great performance? What an insult!

    August 4, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • D-Vid-Edit

      Agree 110%.... that was the worst edited video EVER! Almost like something a student put together.... ugh. After the first time we hear "They call me cha cha", I think we get the point. I must go throw up now,

      August 5, 2011 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  49. #1GreaseFan

    RIP Cha Cha! This is and will always be my favorite movie of all time!

    August 4, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Conky2012

      Wow I really liked Grease lololool. God you guys are lame. I mean seriously, why even post if you are going to say something stupid like oh wow she was a good dancer, Grease is my favorite movie! As if that has anything to do with her dying. Wow you liked her most popular movie, so did everyone else

      August 5, 2011 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
    • tony montana

      One of my fav movies too, that summer my sister and I watched GREASE (on laserdisc, do you remember laserdiscs?-hahaha) twice a day...couldn't get enough of it, it is a classic for sure....RIP Cha Cha...

      August 5, 2011 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
    • SweetTeaOnIce

      Conky2012 – Are you serious!? You are the only one talking trash, just plain stupidity. Please get off your meds ASAP!

      August 5, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Smiley

      Conky2012 – A BIG FYI 4 you! People talk about Grease and how much they liked it and her dancing because it's pretty much the only way we knew and/or have fond memories of her. You really give the word "stupid" a whole new meaning! RIP ChaCha! A wonderful dancer and I loved you in Grease as well!

      August 5, 2011 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  50. stacey redd

    I am very sorry for the family and friends. I hope they can find peace and understanding. It truly is a tragedy that she is gone, but she will go on in the hearts of all her fans for yrs to come. God bless the Charles Family.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Chachi

    Whoever cut that video clip together shouldn't quit their day job!!!

    August 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Joe

    RIP, great movie and characters.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  53. JesusCrust

    Is that video a clip of their high school reunion?

    August 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kinicki

      LOL. I've yet to see a movie or TV show about high school where the students actually look high school aged. Great movie, though.

      August 4, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Volcher


      August 5, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Dave

    RIP, after dancing your butt off like that you need a little rest. Prefection on two legs, Cha Cha!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • seldomseen

      Annette Charles (March 5, 1948 – August 3, 2011)[1] was an American actress, probably best remembered for her role as "Cha Cha" DiGregorio in Grease. She has made several appearances on television, as well.

      Charles was born Annette Cardona in Los Angeles, California. Under that name, she earned a master's degree in Social Work from New York University and was a speech professor at California State University, Northridge.[2][3]

      August 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Fred

    Grease was such a great movie!! RIP Ms. Charles.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |

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