“The Lady Olivia Newton-John passed away peacefully at her ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. We ask everyone to respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time,” wrote her husband, John Easterling. , it’s a statement. on the singer’s verified Instagram account. “Olivia has been a symbol of triumph and hope for more than 30 years by sharing her journey with breast cancer.”
Thanks to a string of country and soft rock hits, Newton-John was already a popular singer by the late 1970s. But his co-starring role opposite John Travolta in 1978’s “Grease,” arguably the most popular musical movie of all time, elevated her to a new level of stardom.
Although she had little acting experience (and turned 29 during filming), Newton-John gave an indelible performance as Sandy, a sweet-natured Australian transfer student who has an affair with Danny, Travolta’s alpha greaser, at a school. Southern California high school in the 1950s.
Their on-screen chemistry as mismatched lovebirds who undergo final-act makeovers to win each other’s hearts (she trades in her frilly dresses for heels, leather, spandex, and a cigarette) anchored the film and inspired legions of fans. fans to watch repeatedly.
Newton-John sang on three of the film’s biggest hits: the duets “You’re The One That I Want” and “Summer Nights” with Travolta, and his dazzling solo ballad, “Hopeless Devoted To You.”
Newton-John recorded her first single in England in 1966 and had some international hits, but remained largely unknown to American audiences until 1973, when “Let Be There” became a top 10 hit on both the UK charts and the UK charts. country music and adult contemporary music. .
A string of No. 1 easy listening hits followed, including “I Honestly Love You”, “Have You Never Been Mellow” and “Please Mr. Please”.
Then came “Grease,” which was the highest-grossing film of 1978 and became an enduring cultural phenomenon.
The film gave Newton-John the opportunity to change his absolutely clean image. The cover of her next album “Totally Hot” featured the singer dressed in black leather, while her songs had a more edgy and contemporary pop sound.
His success as a singer
In 1981, she took her new, sexier persona a step further with “Physical,” a dance number with lyrics as suggestive as “There’s nothing left to talk about unless it’s horizontal.” Banned by several radio stations, it became her biggest hit, spending 10 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100.
He also appeared in several big-budget movies, including the musical fantasy “Xanadu,” with Hollywood legend Gene Kelly in his last on-screen role. The film flopped, but its soundtrack sold well and spawned “Magic,” a number one hit.
In 1983 he teamed up with Travolta again for “Two of a Kind,” a fantasy romantic comedy, but failed to recapture the spark of “Grease.”
During a long career, Newton-John won four Grammy Awards and sold more than 100 million albums.
“I have had many lives in music. I had country when I started, then I crossed over to pop,” he told CNN. “I had ‘Xanadu’ and ‘Grease,’ a lot of songs in between. I feel so grateful. I have such a huge repertoire to choose from.”
overcoming the tragedy
But Newton-John also faced her share of problems and tragedies. Her breast cancer diagnoses forced her to postpone and cancel several tours.
“That’s very hard to live with,” he told CNN’s Larry King in 2006. “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve been through a lot.” Although the profile of his career dimmed in his later years, Newton-John never stopped recording and performing. Her highlights include guest appearances on “Glee,” a long-running residency on “Summer Nights” at the Flamingo Las Vegas, and a dance club hit, “You Have to Believe,” recorded with her daughter. Chloe.
“I love to sing, it’s all I know how to do,” she told CNN in 2017. “That’s all I’ve done since I was 15 years old, so it’s my life. I’m very grateful that I can still do it and people still come to see me.”