The singer and actress Olivia Newton-John, who became world famous with the musical adaptation “Grease” in the 70s, died on Monday at the age of 73. This was reported by numerous US media, citing the husband and his post on the social media channels of the British-Australian songwriter and breast cancer activist.
The singer and actress died “peacefully” at their Southern California ranch, her husband John Easterling announced. She was surrounded by friends and family.
Newton-John had battled cancer for decades. “Olivia has been a symbol of victory and hope for more than 30 years as she shared her journey with breast cancer,” it said on Instagram. It’s been over 40 years since she caused a sensation with her cheeky appearance in the hit film musical “Grease”. In 1978, as blond, curly-haired Sandy, she turned John Travolta’s head in the role of the rebellious Danny – with a curly lard and sideburns.
Newton-John was a star years before she sang songs like “You’re The One That I Want” in “Grease” with a ponytail, pettycoat and Travolta duet.
Her former co-star Travolta wrote on Instagram: “My dearest Olivia, you have made all of our lives so much better. Your influence has been incredible. I love you so much”. Travolta signed his post with “Your Danny, your John!”.
There was great consternation in Australia, among others, where many consider Newton-John “one of their own”. A Today Australia TV presenter who knew her well broke down in tears in front of the cameras.
The cancer center founded by Newton-John in Australia thanked the film icon for her efforts in the fight against the disease. “Olivia touched the lives of many across Australia and around the world, but especially those of our staff and patients at the Olivia Newton John Centre, whom she encouraged, inspired and supported every day,” the center said on Tuesday .
“We are eternally grateful for the special relationship we have had with Olivia over the years,” it said. “She was the light at the end of the tunnel for many, many people.”
The Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Center (ONJCWC) was founded in Melbourne in 2012 and is active in cancer treatment and research.
Australian actor Hugh Jackman has also expressed his dismay at the death of Olivia Newton-John. “I’m devastated,” wrote the 53-year-old (“X-Men”) on Facebook. “It’s no secret that Olivia was my first crush. I kissed her poster every night before bed.”
“It has been one of the great privileges of my life to meet her,” Jackman continued. “Not only was she one of the most talented people I know, she was one of the most open-hearted, generous and fun.” Her legacy as a fighter against cancer will only grow stronger in the years to come. “I love you Olivia.”
Australian singer and actress Kylie Minogue has credited Olivia Newton-John as a huge inspiration in her life. “I’ve loved and looked up to Olivia Newton-John since I was ten years old. And it will always be that way,” wrote Minogue (54) on Twitter on Tuesday. She also provided a photo showing the two together. “She was and will always be an inspiration to me in many, many ways.”
“Too young to leave this world,” wrote Barbra Streisand (80) on Instagram for a joint photo from the 1970s.
“Another angelic voice has joined the heavenly choir,” tweeted US singer Dionne Warwick (81), who once recorded a duet with Newton-John.
British singer Rod Stewart (77) described her in a tweet as a “great friend” who had left. The skinny drainpipe pants she wore in “Grease” inspired his “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” era.
US talk show host Oprah Winfrey (68) said: “Your positive attitude was simply contagious.”
He loved “Grease” and her music, wrote “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn (56) on Twitter. She was his first big crush, he also said.
Colleagues such as Mia Farrow, Antonio Banderas, George Takei and Brian Wilson also paid tribute to the deceased.
Singer Melissa Etheridge (61) mourned the loss of a “wonderful woman” and a “special talent”. Newton-John was one of the first to give encouragement after Etheridge’s own cancer diagnosis became known.
Born in Cambridge, England, the granddaughter of the German Nobel Prize winner in physics, Max Born, and the daughter of a college president who emigrated to Australia, founded a girls’ band as a schoolgirl. A talent competition brought the 15-year-old back to Great Britain. In 1966 she recorded her first record there.
The folk blonde made a name for herself with her cuddly songs, especially in the USA. 1974’s “Let Me Be There” was her first US hit. Songs like “On The Banks Of Ohio”, “If You Love Me Let Me Know”, “I Honestly Love You” and “Have You Never Been Mellow” made her a pop queen there.
After “Grease” she was back in front of the camera in 1980 for the fantasy musical “Xanadu” on roller skates to disco suits with the hit songs “Xanadu”, “Magic” and “Suddenly”. A year later, Newton-John released their most successful album, Physical.