Annette Charles, the high-school dancer Cha Cha in the 1978 blockbuster Grease, died on Aug. 4 in her Los Angeles home. Charles, who was 63 [not 66 as previously reported] had been suffering from lung cancer.
In Grease, Charles was the girlfriend of the Scorpions gang leader, Leo (Dennis C. Stewart). At one point, she dances with John Travolta’s Danny Zuko and Jeff Conaway’s Kenickie at a school dance competition. Conaway died earlier this year at age 60.
Besides Grease, Charles appeared in only two more movies: In Search of the Historic Jesus (1979) and, as Annette Cardona, Latino (1985). The former was Henning Schellerup’s low-budget mix of interviews and dramatic reenactments about the life of Jesus, with Charles as Mary Magdalene to John Rubinstein’s Jesus; the latter was set in Nicaragua during the US-abetted civil war between the leftist Sandinista government and the Contra rebels/terrorists. Charles played a local woman; cinematographer Haskell Wexler directed.
Charles also appeared on a number of television series, including Bonanza, Barnaby Jones, The Man from Atlantis, and Magnum P.I.