Olivia Newton-John | Grease Star | Obituary

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Obituary – Olivia Newton-John – Singer and actor whose career rocketed after her starring role as Sandy in Grease

The four-time Grammy Award winner was a passionate and vocal advocate for breast cancer research before her death, and often kept fans posted on her own health updates through the years.

“Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” her husband wrote in the post. “Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund.”

  • Died: August 8th, 2022
  • Details of death: died after a decades-long battle with Breast Cancer.

Rise to Fame

Thanks to a string of country and soft-rock hits, Newton-John was already a popular singer by the late 1970s. But her co-starring role opposite John Travolta in 1978’s “Grease,” arguably the most popular movie musical of all time, lifted her to a new level of stardom.
Although she had little acting experience (and turned 29 during filming), Newton-John gave an indelible performance as Sandy, a sweet-natured Australian transfer student who romances Travolta’s alpha greaser Danny at a Southern California high school in the 1950s.
Their onscreen chemistry as mismatched lovebirds who undergo final-act makeovers to win each others’ hearts — she ditches her frilly dresses for heels, leather, spandex and a cigarette — anchored the movie and inspired repeat viewings by legions of fans.
 ”I don’t think anyone could have imagined a movie would go on almost 40 years and would still be popular and people would still be talking to me about it all the time and loving it,” Newton-John told CNN in 2017. “It’s just one of those movies. I’m very lucky to have been a part of it. It’s given so many people pleasure.”
Newton-John sang on three of the movie’s biggest hits: the duets “You’re The One That I Want” and “Summer Nights” with Travolta, and her swoony solo ballad, “Hopelessly Devoted To You.”
Born in Cambridge, England in 1948, Newton-John moved with her family to Melbourne, Australia, when she was five. After winning a talent contest on a TV show, “Sing, Sing, Sing,” as a teen she formed an all-girl group and began appearing on weekly pop music programs in Australia.
Newton-John recorded her first single in England in 1966 and scored a few international hits, but she remained largely unknown to US audiences until 1973, when “Let Me Be There” became a top-10 hit on both the adult contemporary and the country charts.
 A series of No. 1 easy-listening hits followed, including “I Honestly Love You,” “Have You Never Been Mellow” and “Please Mr. Please.”
Then came “Grease,” which was 1978’s top-grossing movie and became an enduring cultural phenomenon.
The movie gave Newton-John an opportunity to change her squeaky-clean image. The cover of her next album, “Totally Hot,” featured the singer in black leather, while its songs had an edgier, more contemporary pop sound.

Grease’s enormous success, and the warm reviews for her own performance, reinvigorated Newton-John’s career. It paved the way for another departure – her role as a reincarnated Greek muse in the 1980 film Xanadu. She received middling reviews but every other aspect of the film was panned, except for its disco-oriented soundtrack. From it came two major (and excellent) Newton-John singles, the title track and Magic. The song and album Physical followed later that year. The LP sold 10m copies, while the video for the single, which had Newton-John in then-novel aerobics gear, picked up a Grammy.

 

Physical proved to be her commercial high-water mark, with none of her subsequent projects coming close to its success. Box-office gold was not rekindled when Newton-John and Travolta teamed up again for a poorly reviewed romcom, Two of a Kind (1983), and a chain of Australian-themed clothes shops that she founded the same year went bankrupt in 1992. That year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

 

After successful treatment, she released several albums with a healing theme. In 2017 Newton-John discovered the cancer had returned. Part of her treatment took place at the Melbourne cancer research centre she had helped to fund in 2008, and the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund supports research into plant-based treatments for cancer. Her autobiography, Don’t Stop Believin’, was published in 2018, and two years later she was appointed a dame.

 

Newton-John’s first marriage, in 1984, to the actor Matt Lattanzi, ended in divorce in 1995. Her partner from 1996 onwards, the cameraman Patrick McDermott, was lost at sea and presumed drowned in 2005. Newton-John’s second husband, John Easterling, whom she married in 2008, and her daughter, Chloe, from her first marriage, survive her.

Date of birth: 26th September 1948

Date of Death: 8th August 2022 (aged 73)

 

 

 

Sources:

CNN – https://edition.cnn.com/2022/08/08/entertainment/olivia-newton-john-obit/index.html

Women’s Health – https://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/a40847842/olivia-newton-john-cause-of-death-breast-cancer/

The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/film/2022/aug/08/olivia-newton-john-obituary