Olivia Newton-John, star of ‘Grease’ and Grammy winner, useless at age 73

Olivia Newton-John, singer, actress and philanthropist, died Monday, Aug. Eight on the age of 73 after an extended battle with breast most cancers. Newton-John is survived by her husband, John Easterling, who introduced the unhappy information through her official Facebook web page, and her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi.

“Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time,” Easterling posted Monday afternoon. “Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer. Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund (ONJFoundationFund.org).”

Beloved by movie followers for her efficiency as Sandy within the 1978 musical Grease, Newton-John initially rose to stardom as a singer, profitable two Grammy Awards for her 1974 nation single “I Honestly Love You” and scoring the highest single of 1982 together with her pop hit “Physical.”

A tireless advocate for breast most cancers consciousness and therapy since her personal first prognosis in 1992, the entertainer was the founding father of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia.

Known for her blond magnificence and a candy, girl-next-door demeanor that hearkened again to a extra harmless time, Newton-John was born in Oxford, England, in 1948. When she was 5 years outdated, she relocated together with her mother and father and two older siblings to Melbourne, the place her WWII codebreaker father, Brinley Newton-John, served because the headmaster of Ormond College. (Olivia’s grandfather on her mom Irene’s aspect was additionally a professor: Max Born, winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize in Physics.) At the age of 11, Olivia weathered her mother and father’ troublesome divorce, which she would later describe in her music “Changes.”

She started to pursue singing, turning into an everyday fixture on native Aussie TV starting in 1964. At 16, she received a expertise contest on the present Sing Sing Sing, receiving the prize of a visit to England. At that time, as she recalled in a 1975 People journal article, “I had to decide on finishing school or going after stardom. I quit school.”

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in a scene from the film 'Grease', 1978. (Photo by Paramount/Getty Images)Olivia Newton-John And John Travolta In A Scene From The Film 'Grease', 1978. (Photo By Paramount/Getty Images)
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in a scene from the movie Grease, 1978. (Photo: Paramount/Getty Images)

If Not for You, Newton-John’s 1971 debut solo album, yielded her first worldwide hit: the eponymous Bob Dylan cowl, which reached No. 25 on U.S. charts. “I’m not madly ambitious, that I want to be a huge star or anything like that. I just want to get better at what I’m doing,” the 23-year-old singer advised ABC News Australia.

It was when Newton-John pivoted from folk-rock to nation that she turned a world star. The twangy title music from her third album, Let Me Be There, launched in 1973, went gold within the U.S. and peaked at No. 7 on the nation charts. Between 1974 and 1976, the crossover artist would have seven songs land within the Top 10 Country Singles. She obtained Grammy Awards for “Let Me Be There” and “I Honestly Love You,” the No. 1 single from her subsequent studio album. Her unlikely success as an Australian nation star was not with out controversy. After Newton-John received the Country Music Association’s 1974 Female Vocalist of the Year Award — beating fellow nominees Dolly Parton, Anne Murray and Loretta Lynn — some CMA members have been so livid a couple of “foreigner” receiving the award that they stop the CMA in protest.

Olivia Newton-John with first husband Matt Lattanzi and daughter Chloe. (Starstock/Photoshot/Everett Collection)Olivia Newton-John With First Husband Matt Lattanzi And Daughter Chloe. (Starstock/Photoshot/Everett Collection)
Olivia Newton-John with first husband Matt Lattanzi and daughter Chloe. (Photo: Starstock/Photoshot/Everett Collection)

By this level, Newton-John was living in Los Angeles with businessman Lee Kramer, her supervisor and boyfriend via 1976. (The two met on trip within the south of France.) Though she would proceed to sing nation songs all through her profession, her music had begun to veer extra into pop territory. Between 1975 and 1977, she topped the U.S. Adult Contemporary charts seven occasions with singles similar to “Have You Never Been Mellow” (which additionally reached No. 1 on the pop charts and No. three on the nation charts), “Please Mr. Please” and “Don’t Stop Believin’” (which predated the Journey music of the identical title by 5 years).

Another form of fame awaited Newton-John in 1978, when she made her Hollywood movie debut because the star of the 1950s-set musical Grease. The position of Sandy, a virginal highschool senior who in the end embraces her wild aspect, spoke to the star, who’d at all times wrestled together with her personal “good girl” picture. “The part of Sandy is not too far away from myself in reality,” she advised the New York Times earlier than the movie opened. Later, her co-stars would recall how a lot she relished enjoying the leather-clad, stiletto-heeled Sandy of the movie’s remaining scene. “She looooved it,” Didi Conn, who performed Frenchie, advised Yahoo Entertainment in 2018. “She was such a goody-goody, you know, not only in the movie but as a major star.” Grease was the highest-grossing movie of 1978, and the soundtrack resulted in three of her greatest worldwide singles (two of them duets with co-star John Travolta): “You’re the One That I Want,” “Summer Nights” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”

Olivia Newton-John and daughter Chloe Lattanzi at the American Music Awards, January 2000 (Everett Collection)Olivia Newton-John And Daughter Chloe Lattanzi At The American Music Awards, January 2000 (Everett Collection)
Olivia Newton-John and daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, on the American Music Awards in January 2000. (Photo: Everett Collection)

Critics predicted a serious movie profession for the neophyte actress, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for Grease. “She’s a kind of ’70s Debbie Reynolds — and I project for her the same cinematic longevity, if she so chooses,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter’s Arthur Night. Newton-John didn’t select. Her subsequent movie, 1980’s roller-skating fantasy musical Xanadu, is taken into account a legendary flop — though once more, the singer walked away with a number of hit songs from the soundtrack, together with the No. 1 single “Magic.” Newton-John took yet another stab at movie stardom with Two of a Kind, a 1983 romantic comedy that reunited her with Travolta. When that movie additionally failed, she successfully retired from appearing for greater than a decade.

Though Xanadu was a industrial failure, the movie’s co-star Gene Kelly launched Newton-John to her first husband: Matt Lattanzi, a Xanadu dancer 11 years her junior. The couple married in 1984 and had daughter Chloe in 1986. The marriage lasted for 11 years.

Olivia Newton-John and co-star Michael Beck in 'Xanadu,' 1980. (Universal/Everett Collection)Olivia Newton-John And Co-Star Michael Beck In 'Xanadu,' 1980. (Universal/Everett Collection)
Olivia Newton-John and co-star Michael Beck in Xanadu, 1980. (Photo: Universal/Everett Collection)

At age 33, Newton-John launched probably the most profitable solo album of her profession, the 1981 pop odyssey Physical. “I just wasn’t in the mood for tender ballads. I wanted peppy stuff because that’s how I’m feeling,” she advised People in Feb. 1982. The title monitor, written by Steve Kipner and Terry Shaddick with Rod Stewart in thoughts, spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 and confirmed the healthful star in a horny new mild. The cheeky music video for “Physical” featured a spandex-clad Newton-John singing provocative lyrics like “There’s nothing left to talk about, unless it’s horizontally,” whereas doing aerobics (a rising train pattern within the early 1980s). The video obtained heavy airplay on the brand-new MTV and received Newton-John a Grammy Award for Video of the Year. (Notably, Newton-John launched a full video album to accompany the Physical file, making her one of many first main stars to take action.) “Physical” was probably the most profitable single of 1982 and was named Billboard’s “Sexiest Song of All Time” in 2012.

Newton-John launched greater than a dozen subsequent albums, together with greatest-hits collections, however nothing got here near the success of Physical. In the final three a long time of her profession, the singer started devoting herself to different ventures, together with her Koala Blue sportswear boutiques (based in 1982 and shuttered in 1993); a wine label (launched in 2002 underneath the Koala Blue title); the Australian luxurious resort Gaia Retreat and Spa (opened in 2005); and a 2011 charity cookbook, Livwise. She additionally turned an environmental activist, serving as the primary Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Environment Program and creating National Tree Day, which has resulted in over 10.5 million bushes planted in Australia since 1996.

Highlights of her later efficiency profession embody a 2014 Las Vegas residency and two visitor appearances on Glee. Newton-John additionally wrote a memoir, Don’t Stop Believin’, which was revealed in Australia final September and launched within the U.S. on March 19.

In 2005, the singer turned concerned in a weird thriller when her on-and-off boyfriend of 9 years, Patrick McDermott, vanished throughout an in a single day fishing journey. None of the 22 different passengers on the boat noticed him go overboard. “It was very hard. He was lost at sea, and nobody really knows what happened,” she advised Australia’s 60 Minutes in 2016. McDermott’s disappearance turned a favourite subject for tabloids, with some writers speculating that he faked his personal dying to flee his money owed (together with $8,000 he reportedly owed in youngster help funds). Reports of McDermott sightings proceed to crop up on occasion (together with a Nov. 2017 {photograph} taken in Mexico that turned out to be a Canadian pub proprietor on trip). “I lived in pain so long over this, but I had to teach myself to live in the now, which is an important life lesson,” she wrote of McDermott’s disappearance in Don’t Stop Believin’. Newton-John moved on to a relationship with Amazon Herb Company founder Easterling, whom she married on a mountaintop exterior Peru in 2008.

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While most cancers had been part of Newton-John’s life because the 1990s, the actress fought exhausting for each herself and different survivors (or “thrivers,” in her most well-liked terminology). She went public together with her first prognosis, for breast most cancers, in 1992. Newton-John turned a robust advocate for most cancers analysis, early detection and help for sufferers and their households. Thanks to her fundraising and consciousness efforts, she was in a position to open the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, the place analysis, scientific therapy and remedy are carried out alongside each other. “To have a place that supports the people that are going through it and their families is my dream. It’s here. And I’m so thrilled,” she advised Today in 2017.

Newton-John had a second bout with most cancers in 2013, this time in her shoulder, however didn’t share it publicly. Then in May 2017, she introduced in an interview on Australian tv that she had a tumor on the base of her backbone. She postponed a deliberate tour of the U.S. and Canada so as search therapy, and mentioned in an announcement that she would “be back later in the year, better than ever.” Though she didn’t resume her tour, Newton-John did present up for a Grease 40th anniversary reunion in August and a most cancers fundraiser in Melbourne in September.

Olivia Newton-John with husband John Easterling, left, and 'Grease' co-star John Travolta at the G'Day USA 2010 Black Tie Gala on January 16, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photoshot/Everett Collection)Olivia Newton-John With Husband John Easterling, Left, And 'Grease' Co-Star John Travolta At The G'Day Usa 2010 Black Tie Gala On January 16, 2010 In Hollywood, California. (Photoshot/Everett Collection)
Olivia Newton-John with husband John Easterling, left, and Grease co-star John Travolta on the G’Day USA 2010 Black Tie Gala on Jan. 16, 2010 in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo: Photoshot/Everett Collection)

Still, she selected to not give attention to how a lot time she had left, even because the most cancers progressed to probably the most aggressive stage.

“If anyone tells you, you’ve six months to dwell, very probably you’ll since you consider that,” Newton-John told 60 Minutes Australia in Aug. 2019. “So for me, psychologically, it’s better not to have any idea of what they expect or what the last person that has what you have lived, so I don’t, I don’t tune in.”

The singer instead concentrated on being grateful. “I’m so lucky that I’ve been through this three times and I’m still here,” she said. “I’m living with it. Every day is a gift now, particularly now.”

Newton-John’s influence transcended generations and genres, and grew in recent years. In 2018, ’90s indie icon Juliana Hatfield released the passion-project covers record Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John, telling Yahoo Entertainment: “Everything I do is influenced by my love for her. … Her music never really lost its appeal for me, She was always kind of in the back of my mind. She’s been a thread running through my life. … I was hoping that this album would make people revisit her and reappreciate her. I mean, sure, some people appreciate her and give her credit for being really talented and enduring, but I definitely think she’s underrated as a singer. There’s this condescending attitude toward her sometimes, and it really bugs me. Just people think of her as a cupcake or just this sweet confection, as if she hasn’t had a decades-long body of really substantial work, you know? She’s a very hard-working, talented singer and actress.” One dollar from the sale of every album went to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre.

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