Susan Buckner, Cheerleader Patty Simcox in ‘Grease,’ Dies at 72

Susan Buckner, the actress and dancer best known for her turn as the bubbly and often-teased Rydell High cheerleader Patty Simcox in the 1978 blockbuster musical Grease, has died. She was 72.

She died Thursday in Miami, family spokesperson Melissa Berthier announced. No cause of death was revealed.

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Buckner portrayed Hollywood bad girl Jean Harlow alongside Tommy Lee Jones in the 1977 CBS telefilm The Amazing Howard Hughes and was one of the dancers/synchronized swimmers known as the Kroffettes on The Brady Bunch Hour (the 1976-77 ABC variety show was created by Sid and Marty Krofft). She also starred opposite Sharon Stone in Wes Craven’s Deadly Blessing (1981).

In Grease, directed by Randal Kleiser at Paramount, Buckner’s Patty convinces Olivia Newton-John’s Sandy Olsson, a new student, to try out for the cheerleading squad. She often is the butt of jokes from the Pink Ladies and T-Birds and called the “bad seed of Rydell High” by Stockard Channing’s Betty Rizzo.

Susan Buckner
Susan Buckner (right) with Olivia Newton-John in 1978’s ‘Grease.’

Born in Seattle on Jan. 28, 1952, Buckner won the Miss Washington pageant in 1971 and competed for the Miss America crown, then appeared as a Golddiggers dancer and sketch performer on NBC’s The Dean Martin Show in 1973. That led to becoming part of an all-girl group called Fantasy and half of a musical duo known as Buckner & Pratt.

She played one of the construction workers alongside Tim Rossovich and others on the 1980 ABC comedy When the Whistle Blows, which lasted just 10 episodes.

She also appeared on episodes of Police Woman, Switch, Starsky and Hutch, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries — as Georgia “George” Fayne — B.J and the Bear and The Love Boat and had roles in the films The First Nudie Musical (1976) and Police Academy 6: City Under Siege (1989).

Buckner left Hollywood to raise her family and went on to direct kids theater and teach dance.

Survivors include her children, Adam and Samantha; grandchildren Oliver, Riley, Abigail and Ruby; sister Linda; daughter-in-law Noel and son-in-law Adam; and her longtime partner, Al.

Donations in her memory can be made to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami.

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