According to a statement from her husband, Olivia Newton-John, the Australian singer who became one of the biggest pop sensations of the 1970s with her breathy voice and sweet looks in the smash film “Grease,” died on Monday. She was 73 years old at the time.
“Dame Olivia Newton-John 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,” her husband, John Easterling, had said in a statement on the singer’s verified Instagram account. “Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer.”
Cancer at the base of her spine had been diagnosed in September 2018 and she was undergoing treatment at the time. Following previous diagnoses in the early 1990s and in 2017, this was her third cancer diagnosis.
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Her Climb to Fame
After a string of country and soft rock singles in the late 1970s, vocalist Olivia Newton-John was already well-known. She shot to popularity after playing alongside John Travolta in 1978’s “Grease,” possibly the most successful musical film of all time.
Newton-portrayal John as Sandy, a sweet-natured Australian transfer student who falls in love with Travolta’s alpha greaser Danny in a Southern California high school in the 1950s, was unforgettable despite her lack of acting experience and the fact that she turned 29 during filming.
Fans have rewatched the movie over and over again because of their on-screen chemistry as mismatched lovebirds who undergo final-act transformations to win one other’s hearts (she ditches her flowery dresses for heels, leather, spandex, and a cigarette).
“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 the media 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 film’s most popular songs: “You’re the One That I Want,” “Summer Nights,” and “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” all duets with John Travolta. Newton-John was born in Cambridge, England, in 1948, and moved to Melbourne, Australia, with her family when she was five years old.
Olivia Newton-John has died at 73 after a decades-long battle with breast cancer, according to a post from her Facebook page. pic.twitter.com/cHTFRshhdY
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) August 8, 2022
Since then she has created an all-girl band and appeared on weekly pop music shows in Australia after winning a talent show called “Sing, Sing, Sing.” It wasn’t until 1973 that Newton-song John’s “Let Me Be There” reached the top 10 on the adult contemporary and country charts that she became a household name in the United States.
It was followed by a string of No. 1 easy-listening songs, such as “Have You Never Been Mellow,” “I Honestly Love You,” and “Please Mr. Please.” “Grease” was the top-grossing movie of 1978 and a cultural phenomenon. Newton-John was given a chance to rebrand herself in the film. This album’s tracks had a more modern pop sound, and its artwork portrayed the singer in black leather.
Her Success as a Singer
When she released Physical in 1981, she pushed her new, hotter character a step further by singing, “There’s nothing left to talk about except horizontally.” It became her most popular song, spending 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, despite being banned by some radio stations.
“Xanadu,” a musical fantasy with Gene Kelly in his final film appearance, was one of her other big-budget roles. In spite of the fact that the film was a failure, the music was a success, and “Magic” became a No. 1 hit. Travolta reunited with her in 1983 for “Two of a Kind,” a romantic comedy/fantasy, but their “Grease” chemistry was lost in translation.
More than 100 million albums were sold by Newton-John during a long and successful career. In 1966, John Newton-John and Pat Carroll posed for a picture in London. It wasn’t until 1973 that Newton-song John’s “Let Be There” reached the top 10 on the adult contemporary and country charts that she became a household name in the United States.
— King Commoner (@King_Commoner) August 8, 2022
“I’ve had many lives in music. I’ve had country when I started, then I crossed over into pop,” she told. “I had ‘Xanadu’ and ‘Grease,’ many songs in between. I feel very grateful. I have such a large repertoire to choose from.”
Recovering from Adversity
She had her share of difficulties and tragedies, however. As a result of being diagnosed with breast cancer, she was forced to cancel or delay several tours. On a fishing excursion off the coast of California, Newton-then-boyfriend, John’s Patrick McDermott went missing in 2005. The musician was plagued by the mystery of his disappearance for years.
“It’s very hard to live with that,” she stated to CNN’s Larry King in 2006. “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve been through a lot of things.” Newton-John continued to record and perform into her latter years, despite a decline in her public status.
Highlights of her career include appearances on “Glee,” a long-running residency at the Flamingo Las Vegas “Summer Nights,” and a dance club smash with daughter Chloe, “You Have to Believe.” She told CNN in 2017: “I love to sing, it’s all I know how to do. “That’s all I’ve ever done since I was 15, so it’s my life. I feel very grateful that I can still do it and people still come to see me.” Stay tuned with us only on Lee Daily