Susan Buckner, 'Grease' actor who played cheerleader Patty Simcox, dies at 72

Susan Buckner, whose TV and movie career included a memorable turn in “Grease,” has died.

The actor “died peacefully” in Miami surrounded by loved ones on Thursday, Melissa Berthier, a publicist for Buckner’s family, confirmed in a statement shared with The Times. A cause of death was not revealed. She was 72.

“Susan will be remembered for her kindness, generosity and unwavering commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of others,” the statement said. “Her effervescent spirit will continue to inspire generations of performers and fans alike.”

Buckner, who was born Jan. 28, 1952, appeared in a variety of television and film projects throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, but she was best known for “Grease.” In the 1978 musical, Buckner starred as Rydell High School cheerleader Patty Simcox, who recruits Olivia Newton-John’s Sandy Olsson to the cheer squad.

“We’ll have so much fun and get to be lifelong friends,” Buckner’s Patty tells Sandy as she persuades her to try out for the squad.

In the movie, Buckner and Newton-John’s characters are seen waving pom-poms and cheering “Do the splits, give a yell” at a football game. “Grease” also starred John Travolta, Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway, Didi Conn and others. Newton-John died in 2022 at age 73.

Buckner’s Hollywood credits feature appearances on TV series including “The Dean Martin Show,” “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour,” “Sonny and Cher,” “Starsky and Hutch” and the short-lived sitcom “When the Whistle Blows.” Beyond “Grease,” she appeared in the movie “Return Engagement” and Wes Craven’s 1981 horror film “Deadly Blessing,” which co-starred Sharon Stone.

Before Hollywood, Buckner was named Miss Washington in 1971 and co-founded the musical duo Buckner and Pratt. After her screen career, Buckner shifted her focus to parenting her two children. She also spent her post-Hollywood years as a director for children’s theater performances and as a dance instructor.

Buckner is survived by son Adam Josephs, daughter Samantha Mansfield, her grandchildren Oliver, Riley, Abigail and Ruby, sister Linda, daughter-in-law Noel Josephs, son-in-law Adam Mansfield and her longtime partner, Al.

“Rest in peace Susan,” the statement continued. “Your talent, spirit and infectious smile will live on in our hearts forever.”

Donations in Buckner’s honor can be made to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

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