Grease Grammy Award-winning actress, singer and pop culture icon Olivia Newton-John passed away Monday morning, according to a statement posted on her official Facebook account. She was 73 years old.
The statement said Newton-John “passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California” on Monday morning, “surrounded by family and friends”.
“We ask everyone to respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time,” read the statement.
The singer-actress was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and had to undergo chemotherapy and a partial mastectomy. In 2013, she was diagnosed with cancer in her shoulder.
In September 2018, Newton-John revealed that her cancer had returned the previous year and had spread to her lower back.
The statement announcing her death highlighted her advocacy work for cancer research and called on fans to donate to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation, which specializes in plant medicine and cancer research. instead of flowers.
One of the best-selling artists of the 1970s and 1980s, Newton-John had a string of #1 singles, including “You’re the One That I Want,” a catchy duet she sang with John Travolta. in the music event of 1978 Grease.
Her lead role in that film catapulted the Australian-born to superstardom, as did her appearance with Gene Kelly in 1980. Xanaduwith her performance of the title track also topping the charts.
Her 1981 cult hit “Physical” further cemented her celebrity stardom, spending 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, while the adventurous lyrics and theme music video sport education recreated her image for the rest of the 1980s.
“I recorded it and then suddenly thought, ` `God, maybe I’ve gone too far!’ ‘I called Roger and said, ` `We have to pull this song!” he said. , “ It was too late. It was on the radio and was running on the charts. ‘ I was horrified!”
From 1973 to 1983, Newton-John had 14 top 10 singles in the US, and won 4 Grammy Awards. She has sold more than 100 million records during her career.
Newton-John is the daughter of German literature professors Brin Newton-John and Irene Bron, whose father is the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Bron. Newton-Johns moved to Australia when Olivia was 5 years old, but she returned to England in her late teens and lived with her mother after her parents split.
She had her initial dream of becoming a veterinarian but won singing competitions in high school and before the age of 20 toured military bases and clubs and collected records. his first single, “Till You Say You’re Be Mine.” In 1971, she covered Bob Dylan’s “If Not for You” and began working closely with a friend from Australia, John Farrar, who produced the song and later wrote “You’re the One That I.” Want”, “Magic” and some other hits for her.
She had loved country music, especially the records of “Tennessee” Ernie Ford, from an early age, but her early success did not impress critics or some fellow musicians. A Village Voice review likened her to a geisha who “makes her voice smaller than it really is just to please men”. When Newton-John beat Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn to win the Country Music Association’s top artist award in 1973, Tammy Wynette helped found the Country Entertainers’ Association, a club designed to excluding Newton-John and other crossover performers.
But Newton-John had a fan of show business, who with her became one of cinema’s most forgettable teams. Travolta starred in the theatrical version of “Grease,” and for the projected film, Newton-John thought Newton-John would be the “final” Sandy, a nice girl who’s tough in the final act. along and get his man.
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“I was worried that at 29, I was too old to play a high school girl,” Newton-John, who insisted on taking a test before accepting the role, told The Telegraph in 2017.
“Everything in the making of the movie was fun, but if I had to pick one favorite moment, it was the transition from what I call Sandy 1 to Sandy 2. I had to play a different character and get dressed. other, and when I put it on. That tight black outfit for singing You’re the One That I Want, I got a very different reaction than the men on set. “
Up until that decisive moment, Newton-John had favored soft pop-country songs like “Please Mr. Please” and “Have You Never Been Mellow” and soft ballads like “I Actually Love You” “, which won the Grammy Award in 1975. for best female pop vocalist and discography of the year.
She had a few hits after “Physical,” but her career took a turn and Newton-John became more famous for her private life. In 1992, while she was preparing for a concert tour, her father died and she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Her marriage to actor Matt Lattanzi, with whom she had a daughter, actor and singer Chloe Lattanzi, broke down in 1995 and a years-long relationship with cinematographer Patrick McDermott ended. mysteriously. McDermott went missing during a 2005 fishing trip in California, and his fate remained unknown many years later. Multiple reports allege that he is living in Mexico, with a new girlfriend.
“He went missing at sea and no one really knows what happened,” Newton-John told Australia’s 60 Minutes in 2016. “People have to wonder. But you know what, those are the things in life you have to accept and let go of. Because whenever you go through tough times, there are always those concerns.”
Newton-John’s recent albums include “Stronger Than Before”; holiday collaboration with Travolta, “This Christmas” and the autobiography “Gaia: A Woman’s Journey,” inspired by her battle with cancer and the loss of her father.
Newton-John married John Easterling, founder of the Amazon Herb Company, in 2008. She has been involved in many philanthropic activities, serving as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program and a spokesperson for the United Nations Environment Program. Children’s Health Environmental Coalition. She also founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Health Center in Melbourne, Australia.
She is survived by her husband; daughter Chloe Lattanzi; sister Sarah Newton-John; brother Toby Newton-John; and several nieces and nephews.
Travolta was among co-stars, collaborators and other celebrities who paid tribute to Newton-John on Monday after her death was announced.
“My dearest Olivia, you have made our lives so much better,” Travolta wrote in an online post. “Your impact is amazing. I love you very much. We’ll see you on the road and we’ll all be together again. Sincerely from the moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, Your John! “
—With files from the Associated Press
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