Olivia Newton-John Dies After Long Battle with Breast Cancer
LOS ANGELES - Actress/singer Olivia Newton-John has died after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 73.
Newton-John passed away at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends, according to her husband 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. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund (ONJFoundationFund.org)," he wrote on Facebook.
Known for her performance as Sandy in the 1978 film musical "Grease," Newton-John rose to stardom as a singer, winning two Grammy Awards for her 1974 country single “I Honestly Love You” and earning the top single of 1982 with her hit single “Physical.”
Becoming a vocal advocate for breast cancer awareness and treatment since her own first diagnosis in 1992, she established the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in her native Melbourne, Australia.
She began singing at an early age, becoming a regular fixture on Australian TV beginning in 1964. Then, at 16, she won a talent contest on the show Sing Sing Sing, where she won the prize of a trip to England where she grew her singing career. If Not for You, Newton-John’s 1971 debut solo album, earned the budding singer her first international hit: the iconic Bob Dylan cover, which reached No. 25 on U.S. charts.
Newton-John then moved from folk-rock to country and became an international star when the catchy title song from her third album, Let Me Be There, released in 1973, earned gold status in the U.S. and peaked at No. 7 on the country charts. Between 1974 and 1976, the crossover artist would have seven songs land in the Top 10 Country Singles. She went on to win Grammy Awards for “Let Me Be There” and “I Honestly Love You,” the top single from her next studio album.
In 1978, when she made her Hollywood film debut as the star of the musical Grease. She played the role of Sandy, a virginal high school senior who ultimately embraces her wild side, something that struck a chord with her as she reconsidered her own “good girl” image.
Grease went on to become the highest-grossing film of 1978, and the soundtrack resulted in three of her biggest international singles (two of them duets with co-star John Travolta): “You’re the One That I Want,” “Summer Nights” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”
In the early 80s, she married actor Matt Lattanzi, in a union that lasted 11 years and produced daughter Chloe Lattanzi.
Newton-John released more than a dozen albums in succeeding years, including greatest-hits collections, but she would not equal the success of Physical. In the last three decades of her career, the singer began other ventures, including her Koala Blue sportswear boutiques (founded in 1982 and closed in 1993); a wine label (which debuted in 2002 with the Koala Blue name); the Australian luxury hotel Gaia Retreat and Spa (opened in 2005); and a 2011 charity cookbook, Livwise. She also became an activist for the environment, serving as the first Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Environment Program and creating National Tree Day, which has resulted in over 10.5 million trees planted in Australia since 1996.
Newton-John is survived by her husband John Easterling and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi.