Olivia Newton-John, singer and actor, who soared to international stardom with classics like "Grease" and "Xanadu" died Monday after a years-long battle with breast cancer. She was 73. The actress passed away peacefully at her Southern California home while surrounded by loved ones. Her death was revealed on her Facebook page by her husband John Easterling.
"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," Easterling wrote on Facebook. No exact cause of death of Newton-John was given.
Death of a Legend
The sad news of the death of Newton-John was announced on her official Facebook page in a statement. The "Physical" singer is survived by her daughter Chloe Lattanzi, 36, and her husband of 14 years, John Easterling.
"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," Easterling wrote.
Her family requested that any memorial contributions should be donated to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund.
The actress opened up about her battle with Stage 4 breast cancer and how she was using medical marijuana to manage the pain in 2014. She received a third cancer diagnosis in September 2018.
The actress famously beat breast cancer twice but was diagnosed again in 2017. She described the illness in a chilling interview with The Guardian in 2020, saying, "It's been a part of my life for so long. I felt something was wrong. It's concerning when it comes back, but I thought "I'll get through it again."
The warm-voiced Australian-born vocalist was voted as the top female soloist of the 1970s by chart historian Joel Whitburn. Her nine top-10 pop singles of the decade included three chart-topping 45s; the biggest of them, "You're the One That I Want," a duet with John Travolta drawn from the smash 1978 soundtrack of the musical "Grease," spent nearly six months on the U.S. lists.
Newton-John, whose father was an MI5 agent, was born in England and relocated with her family to Melbourne, Australia, when she was six years old. In order to pursue her singing career, she moved back to the UK when she was a teenager. In 1974, she appeared in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Four years later, she received her big break with "Grease." She famously refused to accept the offer, initially rejecting producer Alan Carr because she believed she was too old for the character.
The movie went on to become a massive hit across the world as soon as it was released. For many years to come, Newton-John defended her sweet-to-sexy transformation despite a barrage of criticism during the #MeToo movement.
"It's a movie. It's a story from the 50s where things were different. Everyone forgets that, at the end, he changes for her, too. There's nothing deep in there about the #MeToo movement. It's just a girl who loves a guy, and she thinks if she does that, he'll like her,"
"And he thinks if he does that, she'll like him. I think that's pretty real. People do that for each other. It was a fun love story," she said.
Newton-John started singing in the late 1960s, and in 1971, she released her debut solo album, "If Not for You," which featured the title song, which was written by Bob Dylan and recorded by George Harrison.
The song peaked at No. 1 in Adult Contemporary and No. 25 in Pop in the US. She didn't have a major hit until 1973's "If Not for You," which gave her another top 10 hit, her first Grammy for best country female singer, and an Academy of Country Music Award for the most promising vocalist. After that, her career in the United States somewhat stalled.
In the US Adult Contemporary list, the song peaked at No. 1, and on the pop charts, it peaked at No. 25.