PC: CNN International
Olivia Newton-John, singer and actress famous for her hits You’re the One That I Want and Hopelessly Devoted to You, died Monday at the age of 73 after battling cancer. She was best known, however, as one of the original leads in the ‘70s film adaptation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Her other successful ventures include having starred alongside Travolta in Grease and hosting the popular TV show Grease: You’re the One That I Want! based on her hit songs from the movie.
Newton-John and Travolta gained international fame when in 1978 when they starred as bad boy Danny and sweet Sandy in the movie musical “Grease.” “My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better,” the actor wrote on Instagram. “Your impact was incredible. I love you so much.”
According to a statement from her husband, Australian singer Olivia Newton-John passed away on Monday. Her innocent beauty and breathy voice made her one of the biggest music singers of the 1970s and she delighted generations of fans in the hit movie “Grease.” She was 73.
“In the company of family and friends, Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away peacefully this morning at her ranch in Southern California. We kindly request that everyone respect the family’s privacy during this extremely trying time “John Easterling, the singer’s husband, posted a statement on her verified Instagram account. “Olivia has shared her journey with breast cancer for more than 30 years, serving as a symbol of victories and hope.”
The singer made it known that she was receiving treatment for cancer at the base of her spine in September 2018. She had previously experienced breast cancer diagnoses in the early 1990s and in 2017. This was her third cancer diagnosis.
Her ascent to fame
By the late 1970s, Newton-John was a well-known performer due to a succession of successful country and soft-rock songs. She rose to a new level of fame because to her co-starring role with John Travolta in “Grease,” possibly the most well-known musical film of all time, in 1978.
Newton-portrayal John’s as Sandy, a sweet-natured Australian transfer student who romances 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 production.
Their on-screen chemistry as mismatched lovers who transform in the film’s last act to win each other’s hearts—he trades in his flowery skirts for heels, leather, spandex, and a cigarette—anchored the story and encouraged throngs of fans to watch it again and again.
Newton-John told CNN in 2017: “I don’t think anyone could have anticipated a movie would go on for over 40 years and would still be famous and people would still be coming to me about it all the time and appreciating it.” “One of those flicks, that’s all. I’m quite fortunate to have taken part in it. So many people have enjoyed it.”
The duets “You’re The One That I Want” and “Summer Nights” with Travolta, as well as her sultry solo ballad “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” featured Newton-John on three of the movie’s biggest hits.
Newton-John, who was born in 1948 in Cambridge, England, relocated to Melbourne, Australia, with her family when she was five years old. In her teen years, she founded an all-girl combo and started performing on regular pop music shows in Australia after winning a talent competition on the TV programme “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
Before 1973, when “Let Me Be There” reached the top 10 on both the adult contemporary and the country charts, Newton-John was completely unknown to US audiences. She had recorded her debut single in England in 1966 and had a few overseas singles.
The songs “Have You Never Been Mellow,” “Please Mr. Please,” and “I Honestly Love You” were among a string of No. 1 easy-listening singles that came after.
Then followed “Grease,” the highest-grossing film of 1978, which went on to become an enduring cultural phenomenon.
The film offered Newton-John the chance to shed her spotless reputation. Her subsequent album, “Totally Hot,” had an edgier, more modern pop sound, and the singer was depicted on the record cover wearing black leather.
Her musical success
With “Physical,” a dance song with suggestive lyrics like “There’s nothing left to talk about until it’s horizontally,” she developed her new, hotter persona even further in 1981. It was her biggest hit and spent 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 despite being banned by some radio stations.
Additionally, she had appearances in a number of other high-profile films, such as the musical fantasy “Xanadu,” which starred the late Gene Kelly. The movie flopped, but its soundtrack did well and gave rise to the No. 1 single “Magic.”
She reunited with Travolta in 1983 for the romantic comedy-fantasy “Two of a Kind,” but the two’s “Grease” chemistry was lost in the film.
Over the course of a long career, Newton-John sold more than 100 million albums and received four Grammy Awards.
“I’ve had many lives in music. I’ve had country when when I started, then I crossed over into pop,” she told CNN. “I had ‘Xanadu’ and ‘Grease,’ many songs in between. I feel very grateful. I have such a large repertoire to choose from.”
However, Newton-John experienced her fair share of hardships and tragedies. After being told she had breast cancer, she was forced to reschedule and cancel several tours.
And in 2005, Patrick McDermott, Newton-then-boyfriend, John’s vanished at sea while out fishing off the coast of California. He was never discovered, and the singer spent years struggling with this unanswered mystery.
In 2006, she said to CNN’s Larry King that “it’s very hard to live with it.” “I’ve been through a lot of things, and this is perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.” Newton-John never stopped recording and performing, even though her career profile dwindled in her final years. Some of her career high points included guest spots on “Glee,” a lengthy “Summer Nights” residency at the Flamingo Las Vegas, and a dance club smash called “You Have to Believe,” which she co-wrote with daughter Chloe. In 2017, she told CNN, “I love to sing, it’s all I know how to do.” “It’s my life; that’s all I’ve ever done since I was 15 years old. I’m quite appreciative that I can still do it and that people continue to visit me.”
Olivia Newton-John was an icon in both the music and film industry, leaving behind a legacy that will be remembered for years to come. She starred in hit films such as Grease and Xanadu, while also releasing popular songs like Physical and Have You Never Been Mellow. Olivia Newton-John was a true talent who will be deeply missed.