Olivia Newton-John, the musical star who found enduring fame for her leading role in the film Grease, has died aged 73. The news was confirmed by her husband.
Newton-John, the Grammy-winning superstar reigned on pop, country, adult contemporary, and dance charts with such hits as Physical and You’re the One That I Want and won countless hearts as everyone’s favorite Sandy in the blockbuster film version of Grease.
In a statement posted on social media, Olivia Newton-John’s widower John Easterling said: “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. 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 2017, Newton-John revealed the breast cancer she had first suffered in 1992 had returned and had spread to her spine. She also revealed she’d had a second cancer diagnosis in 2013 but had kept it quiet.
From 1973-83, Newton-John was among the world’s most popular entertainers. She had 14 top 10 singles just in the US, won four Grammys, and starred with John Travolta in Grease and with Gene Kelly in Xanadu. The fast-stepping Travolta-Newton-John duet, You’re the One That I Want, was one of the era’s biggest songs and has sold more than 15 million copies.
It was Grease, the perky 1978 adaptation of the Broadway musical for which she will be most fondly remembered. Grease was the biggest box-office hit of the year, and its soundtrack album spent 12 consecutive weeks at No 1 in the US. Newton-John’s performance was nominated for a Golden Globe and she performed Hopelessly Devoted to You at the 1979 Oscars.
The film remains a much-loved staple of the small screen and the singalong circuit; its soundtrack is one of the top 10 biggest sellers of all time.
Tributes to Newton-John began appearing shortly after her family’s statement.
Co-star of “Grease” John Travolta shared his condolences on Instagram.
“My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible”, Travolta wrote.
Newton-John’s daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, paid tribute to her mother with a selection of images on Instagram, including pictures of Lattanzi as a baby.