Australian Singer and “Grease” Star Olivia Newton-john Has Passed Away at the Age of 73! (Latest Updates)

The world has lost an angel today with the passing of Olivia Newton-John, the Australian singer whose chart-topping tunes “Physical,” “Have You Never Been Mellow,” and “You’re the One That I Want,” a duet she sang with John Travolta in Grease, were universally adored. Age-wise, she belonged to the 73-year-old bracket.

John Easterling, John’s husband, posted on Facebook that John had passed away on Monday morning at their ranch in Southern California. He praised Olivia, saying, “For over 30 years, sharing her battle with breast cancer has been a symbol of success and hope.” The Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund for Research into Plant Medicine and Cancer is a continuation of “her therapeutic inspiration and pioneering expertise with plant medicine.”

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Newton-John, who was born in England and raised in Melbourne, revealed in May 2017 that her breast cancer has progressed to her lower back, 25 years after her initial diagnosis. The artist called off a planned interview tour in Melbourne and Sydney in August 2018 barely three weeks before the first date was set.

At the height of her popularity in the ’70s and ’80s, Newton-John was a country-pop and soft-rock phenomenon with girl-next-door appeal; she sold over 100 million records and racked up nearly 40 entries on the Billboard Hot 100 over the course of her five-decade career.

However, she gained new heights of fame when she was cast as Rydell High good girl Sandy Olsson opposite John Travolta as Danny Zuko in Grease (1978), Paramount’s adaptation of the musical that premiered on Broadway in 1972 and ran for nearly 3,400 performances.

Olivia Newton-john Died
Olivia Newton-john Died

Before meeting Newton-John, then 29, at a dinner party given by singer Helen Reddy, producer Allan Carr considered Carrie Fisher (Star Wars had not yet been published), Deborah Raffin, Susan Dey, and Marie Osmond for the role of leading lady alongside 23-year-old Travolta. Newton-John was hesitant to work with her again after the failure of her previous film, the obscure English science fiction film Toomorrow (1970).

As Newton-John said to Vanity Fair in 2016, she was “extremely apprehensive” about shooting another film since her “music career was going well,” and she didn’t want to “mess it up” by doing another “excellent” movie. While Carr urged her to take the part, promising to make her character Australian, Travolta also advocated for her to do so. She sang well, and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect fit for Sandy than her.

The Hollywood Reporter compared Newton-John to “a kind of ’70s Debbie Reynolds,” writing that her performance in Grease conveyed “a childlike innocence and fragility.” She was likened to Doris Day by some. For a budget of only $6 million, first-time director Randal Kleiser’s Grease raked in $395 million ($1.7 billion in today’s money) and became the highest-grossing American movie musical of the 20th century.

You’re the One That I Want and Summer Nights, both of which featured duets with Newton-John and Travolta, quickly became pop standards. In an Instagram post, Travolta expressed his sorrow at her passing: Dearest Olivia, you have improved the quality of our lives in countless ways. The effect you had was incredible. A profound amount of affection for you exists in my heart.

The time is coming when we shall all be reunited, and until then, we will see each other again. Since the first time I laid eyes on you, you’ve been mine.
That would be like saying, “Your John is also named Danny.”

Olivia Newton-john Died
Olivia Newton-john Died

She was the youngest of three children and was the only one of the three to be born in Cambridge, England on September 26, 1948. Her mother, Irene, was the daughter of a scientist who had won the Nobel Prize, and her father, Brinley, was a headmaster at the school where she attended. When she was five years old, her family relocated to Melbourne, and it was there that she began studying the piano.

When Olivia Newton-John was only 15 years old, she had already won a talent competition on the long-running American television program Sing, Sing, Sing by performing the song “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” with her all-girl ensemble Sol Four. The first prize was a trip to London, and once she got there, she teamed up with a buddy named Pat Carroll to sing in bars and on army posts all around Europe.

Newton-John signed with Decca Records and in 1966 recorded a version of Jackie DeShannon’s “Till You Say You’ll Be Mine.” After that, she became the only female member of a bubblegum band called Toomorrow, which was assembled by Don Kirshner in the hopes of creating a U.K. version of The Monkees.

Newton-John is best known for her version of Jackie DeShannon’s “Till You Say You’ll Be Mine.” (Val Guest penned the script for the movie Tomorrow and also directed it.) Before earning a name for herself in 1971 with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “If Not for You,” which was included on her debut album, Newton-John served as an opening act for Cliff Richard on his tour and made an appearance on his British television show.

The first of her four Grammy Awards came to her in 1973 when she won the best country vocalist trophy for her U.S. album debut, Let Me Be There. The song “Title Track” was her first top 10 single. She went on to win three more Grammy Awards. After that, she achieved her first two number ones with the songs “I Honestly Love You” in 1974 and “Have You Never Been Mellow” the following year.

Olivia Newton-john Died
Olivia Newton-john Died

Her longstanding collaborator, songwriter John Farrar, was the one who came up with the songs “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One That I Want” for her. Newton-John recalled that the man entered her trailer at approximately six in the morning because he had been awake the entire previous night. He then asked me, “What do you think?” after playing “You’re the One That I Want” for me. I exclaimed, “Oh, my God, this is incredible.” Simply put, it exuded this wonderful vitality.”

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Karen Millions
Jasley Marry grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She’s been a state-finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an ex-pat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She’s also a bit of a snob about fancy whiskey. Jasley writes early in the morning, then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her Border collie puppy and make her experiments work.

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