As ‘Saturday Night Fever’ turns 40, Brooklyn-born star looks back

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Forty years later, “Saturday Night Fever” is staying alive with a new director’s cut hitting theaters May 7.

Looking back now, Sheepshead Bay native Donna Pescow, who starred in the 1977 classic, is just glad that people who live outside of Brooklyn were into it.

“I didn’t have a clue,” Pescow told us from Los Angeles. “My vison of this film was that it was a wonderful film and hopefully more people will see it and like it than just people who live in Brooklyn and identify with it.”

Her vision was accurate. “Saturday Night Fever” became an international megahit and was Chicago-based film critic Gene Siskel’s favorite film of all time.

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Pescow, who has since appeared on “The Sopranos,” “Cold Case” and “NYPD Blue,” says she wasn’t a clubgoer herself when she was cast as Annette, a neighborhood girl who starts out as John Travolta’s character’s dance partner, but gets dumped. She recalls Studio 54 being a big deal at the time that they were filming, but the cast opted to go to the Brooklyn club upon which the film was based to study for their roles.

“I had never been to a disco per se, but we went to the Odyssey to see what it was and I had no clue how serious it was,” she confessed. “This was a very real destination for people who lived there and it was very important for them to be there every week and to improve their dancing. They took it very seriously.”

Actress Donna Pescow didn't know if the film would appeal to those outside of Brooklyn.

Actress Donna Pescow didn’t know if the film would appeal to those outside of Brooklyn.

(Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The one cast member who didn’t join them at the disco was John Travolta, who Pescow said was too famous to show up in clubs due to his being a TV star at the time.

“I was a fan of his from his show, ‘Welcome Back, Kotter,’ ” she said. “Again, that was a show based in Brooklyn. And if you’re from Brooklyn and see a show from there, you felt closer to it.”

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Pescow says that even now, she remains friendly with her “Fever” crew.

“We formed real friendships,” she said. “And I’m grateful for it.”


john travolta
donna pescow

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