The intersection of Avenue 26 and Jeffries Avenue in Cypress Park was dedicated Monday as Annette Cardona Square, honoring the late actress best known for her portrayal of Cha Cha Di Gregorio in the 1978 movie musical “Grease.”
“She was a role model at a time when there were few Latinos in substantial roles in mainstream Hollywood movies,” said Councilman Gil Cedillo, who introduced the motion to dedicate the intersection in honor of the lifelong Cypress Park resident.
The square also honors Cardona’s work as an instructor at Cal State Northridge’s Department of Chicana/o Studies from 2002 until her death in 2011 from lung cancer at age 63.
Cardona almost turned down role of the self-proclaimed best dancer at St. Bernadette’s High School who crashes the Rydell High dance-off, bumping and grinding her way to a win with Danny Zuko (John Travolta) while a humiliated Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) leaves the gym in a pouty huff.
“I was working really hard to become an actress and didn’t want to be thought of as just a dancer,” Cardona said in a 2010 interview with The Daily Sundial, the CSUN campus newspaper.
Mattel made a Cha Cha Barbie doll in 2008 in connection with the film’s 30th anniversary.
Cardona joined actress Mary Martin and violinist Itzhak Perlman for a performance at the White House in 1983. She also appeared in the 1979 made-for-television movie, “Can You Hear the Laughter? The Story of Freddie Prinze” and such television series as “Gunsmoke,” “The Flying Nun,” “The Mod Squad,” “Bonanza,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “Magnum, P.I.”
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