Cypress Park - In the movie “Grease,” she was “Cha-Cha” Di Gregorio from a rival school - the best dancer at St. Bernadette's high ... with the worst reputation.
Growing up in Cypress Park, she was Annette Cardona, a local girl who became Annette Cardona Charles, and found success a few neighborhoods away in Hollywood.
And under a motion proposed by City Councilmember Gil Cedillo of the 1st District, the intersection of Avenue 26 and Jeffries Avenue could be renamed in honor of the late actress as "Annette Cardona Charles Square.”
“Even after her role in Grease, Annette always sought to give back to toe community that raised her,” Cedillo stated in his proposal, “becoming a professor of speech and interpersonal communication at California State University, Northridge's Chicano Studies Department in 2002. Her students speak of her key role in helping them find their place in the world, giving them the confidence to become the leaders of tomorrow.”
The Council action follows a local grassroots effort neighbors to establish some kind of recognition, according to Steve Weingarten, a spokesperson for Cedillo’s office.
This particular intersection was chosen because it’s near Rio de Los Angeles Park and would reflect well on the actress, Weingarten said.
Annette Cardona Charles was born on March 5, 1948, to a Mexican-Italian family. Her first TV acting role was on High Chaparral in 1968. She had nearly a dozen such TV parts before her best known role, in “Grease.” She has been quoted as saying she almost turned down the role of Cha Cha.
“I was working really hard to become an actress and didn't want to be thought of as just a dancer,” she said, according to IMDB.
She continued getting acting roles until 2009. But she also reported graduated the NYU School of Social Work in 2001, and went on to teach at Cal State Northridge and New Jersey City University. She died in 2011 of cancer.