By 1981, the disco craze was in its death throes, but don’t tell that to Rick Marks.
The 22-year-old from Northeast Philadelphia had just won a John Travolta look-alike contest at the Riverfront Dinner Theatre, which, not coincidentally, was performing Grease.
Marks did bear a resemblance to Travolta and is featured on the paper’s cover, as well as in an inside story striking the familiar Tony Manero pose while wearing a black shirt and white suit.
“I entered because people kept coming up to me in Center City and asking if I were him,” said Marks, who was nicknamed Vinnie (as in Barbarino, Travolta’s character in Welcome Back, Kotter) when he was at Penn State. “I told them, ‘Yeah,’ but I felt guilty afterward.”
That guilt, however, didn’t stop him from giving out autographs or enjoying “some new dates” thanks to his temporary fame.
Ironically, the real Travolta was in Philadelphia often in 1981 for the filming of the movie Blowout.