PASSINGS: Annette Cardona, Nikolai Petrov


Annette Cardona

Actress played Cha Cha in ‘Grease’

Annette Cardona, 63, a versatile actress, dancer and singer best known for her role as Cha Cha in the 1978 movie musical “Grease” about romance at a 1950s high school, died Wednesday at USC University Hospital, her family announced. She had lung cancer even though she was not a smoker.


Under the screen nameAnnette Charles in “Grease,” she played Cha Cha DiGregorio, the self-proclaimed “best dancer at St. Bernadette’s,” showing off her steps in the movie’s many dance scenes and starting the drag race by waving her scarf.

During the 1970s and ‘80s she also appeared occasionally in guest roles in episodic TV series, including “Barnaby Jones,” “The Bionic Woman,” “Magnum, P.I.,” “Bonanza,” “Mod Squad,” “Gunsmoke” and “The Flying Nun.”

As Annette Cardona, she starred inHaskell Wexler’s “Latino,” a 1985 drama about U.S. involvement in Nicaragua. Her stage roles included the Acid Queen in a 1972 production of the Who’s rock opera “Tommy” at the Aquarius Theater, and the lead in Jorge Diaz’s “A Cry in the Distance” at the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts in 1989.

Cardona and Amy Weinstein also co-wrote and co-directed “Second Chance,” a 1992 musical theater production for the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts that targeted at-risk Latino teenagers and toured local high schools.

A funeral Mass is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday at St. Andrew Church, 311 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena.

Nikolai Petrov

Renowned Russian pianist

Nikolai Petrov, 68, a renowned Russian pianist, died Wednesday in a Moscow hospital after suffering a stroke in May while touring in Belarus.

Petrov was born in 1943 into a family of musicians. He started touring in the early 1960s and was one of the few Soviet pianists to play abroad during the Cold War.

He performed with the New York Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Symphony Orchestra and top European orchestras. But Petrov always regarded the Moscow Conservatory as his main stage.

While Russian classical music was suffering from severe underinvestment in the 1990s, Petrov was one of the few musicians to remain based in Russia and help young musicians, mostly paying out of his own pocket.

Until May, Petrov played 70 to 100 concerts a year while touring the globe. In Southern California he performed at Pepperdine University, the Ambassador Auditorium and other venues.

—Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports