Grease Actress Susan Buckner, Who Played Sandy’s Cheerleading Friend Patty Simcox, Dead at 72

The star, who played cheerleader Patty Simcox in ‘Grease,’ retired from acting in the 1980s to raise a family

Actress Susan Buckner, best known for playing cheerleader Patty Simcox in the 1978 musical comedy Grease, is dead. She was 72.

Susan Buckner died peacefully on May 2

“Susan died peacefully on May 2 surrounded by loved ones,” according to Melissa Berthier, a publicist for the family. No cause of death was provided.

“The light she brought into every room will be missed forever,” Buckner’s daughter, Samantha Mansfield, tells PEOPLE. “She was magic, and I was very lucky to call her my best friend.”

Born in 1952 in Seattle, Buckner made a name for herself on the pageant circuit, winning Miss Washington in 1971 before she represented the state at the Miss America competition the next year. 

Buckner parlayed her pageant experience into the entertainment industry and became one of The Golddiggers, an all-female singing and dancing group featured on The Dean Martin Show.

She also made appearances on The Mac Davis ShowSonny and Cher, and The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

Susan Buckner
Susan Buckner

It was her supporting role in Grease, however, that would make Buckner a familiar face to millions of Americans. She landed the part of Patty Simcox, the effervescent cheerleader who shared the screen with Olivia Newton-John.

Her memorable cheer was a rallying cry for fictional Rydell High School: “Do the splits, give a yell! Show a little spirit for Old Rydell! Way to go, red and white! Go Rydell, fight, fight, fight!”

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Though she continued to act in the 1980s, Grease would remain her career-defining role.

After appearing in shows like The Love Boat and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, and films including Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, Buckner put show business on the back burner to raise her two children.

Susan Buckner
Susan Buckner

Later in life, she directed children’s theater at a Florida elementary school and taught dance as an instructor at a gym in Coral Gables.

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

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