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Former Teen Idol Says She "Was Living a Double Life"

Jennifer Grey opens up about being a high schooler who also partied with celebs.

She became famous playing teens in two of the biggest movies of the '80s, but Jennifer Grey's own adolescent years were far different from what she portrayed on screen. In her new memoir, Out of the Corner, the Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller's Day Off star opens up about various aspects of her personal life and career as an actor, including the "double life" she lived as a teenager. On the one hand, she was a high school student, but on the other, she was hanging out at nightclubs with celebrities and other people older than herself—and this was well before she became a movie star. Read on to find out more about Grey's childhood rebellion and to see how she looks back on it now.

RELATED: See '80s Teen Idol Elisabeth Shue Now at 58.

She lived a "double life" as a teen.

Jennifer Grey, Joel Grey, and Jo Wilder at the premiere party for "The Grand Tour" in 1979
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Grey grew up in New York City and is the daughter of Cabaret star Joel Grey and actor and singer Jo Wilder. Because of this, she had access to the world of the rich and famous that normal teens don't have. In a new interview with People ahead of the release of Out of the Corner, she looked back on those strange days.

"Yes, there was lots of drugs and drinking," Grey said. "All the time. I had a boyfriend, we were out at clubs at night. I would change at his house and go to school. I was living a double life. I am like just trying to get through the high school years so that I can get on with my life because I am not dating guys my age. I am not interested… I never dated a teenager in my life. I don't think I ever even kissed a teenager."

She partied with some iconic celebrities.

A portrait of Jennifer Grey from the 1980s
Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images

Grey explained that she frequented Studio 54 and hung out with Andy Warhol's group of friends.

"I saw everything," she continued to People. "That's why high school was so frigging impossible. Like, it was so boring. I was hanging out at [Andy Warhol's] The Factory during the day and 54 at night. I was very much in the… in the gang, going out to Andy's house in Montauk where the Stones had just left. We would go hear Dolly Parton sing at Windows on the World, right?"

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She felt pressure to be perfect.

Jennifer Grey at L.A. Dance Project Annual Gala in 2021
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Grey explained that the two sides of her life stemmed from the expectations of her family. "The good girl who is not allowed to be anything but perfect, so she's got to hide this whole other experience, which is really individuating," she said. And while she said that she loved her parents and thought they were "so [expletive] cool," she added, "There was a perfectionism and expected perfectionism. The standards were high. Everyone around me was very successful. That was a lot of pressure."

She became famous just a few years later.

Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze at the 1988 Oscars
Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images

Some time passed between Grey's rebellious teenage days and her career taking off. In 1984, when she was 24, she appeared in her first movies: Reckless, Red Dawn, and The Cotton Club. Two years later, she appeared in Ferris Bueller's Day Off as the main character's sister. Then, in 1987, she starred in Dirty Dancing as 18-year-old Baby Houseman, having filmed the role when she was 26.

She's now raised a teenager herself.

Stella Gregg, Clark Gregg, Jennifer Grey at the premiere of "Captain Marvel" in 2019
DFree / Shutterstock

Grey has now seen the teen years from the side of the parent. She has a 20-year-old daughter, Stella Gregg, with her ex-husband, actor Clark Gregg. Grey sometimes shares moments with her daughter on her Instagram account, including her graduation from high school and celebratory birthday posts. In December 2021, she posted a picture of Stella and wrote, "love this person. happy birthday my darling stella #thisis20 >@stellagreggslow yer roll, it's going too fast!"

RELATED: See Former Teen Idol Ally Sheedy Now at 59.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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