Beautiful Virgin Islands

Olivia Newton-John: Tributes as Grease star and singer dies aged 73

Olivia Newton-John: Tributes as Grease star and singer dies aged 73

Tributes have been paid from around the world to Olivia Newton-John, who has died from cancer aged 73.

The British-born Australian singer and actress was best known for playing Sandy in Grease, one of the most successful film musicals ever made.

Her Grease co-star John Travolta said she "made all of our lives so much better" while its director said: "What you see is what you get with her."

She died peacefully at her California ranch surrounded by family and friends.

An actress and musician, Newton-John achieved commercial success as a country singer and sold millions of records globally.

But it was her role as high school student Sandy in the film Grease that catapulted her to worldwide fame.

The musical was the biggest box-office hit of 1978, and gave Newton-John three huge hit singles, including You're The One That I Want and Summer Nights, both performed with co-star John Travolta.

And it was a catalyst for change in both her image and her musical direction - shedding her innocent, country-pop image.

Following the news of her death, scores of fans, as well as famous figures from the world of entertainment, shared heartfelt messages and memories.

Actress Stockard Channing - who played Rizzo in Grease - said: "I don't know if I've known a lovelier human being.

Newton-John soared to global fame playing girl-next-door Sandy in smash-hit musical Grease

"Olivia was the essence of summer - her sunniness, her warmth and her grace are what always come to mind when I think of her. I will miss her enormously."

Singer Rod Stewart called her "the perfect lady, gorgeous, with great poise and with a certain Aussie sophistication".

"Her spandex trousers in Grease were my inspiration for my 'Da ya think I'm Sexy' era," he added, referencing the iconic tight black outfit that she wore at the film's finale.

US television host Oprah Winfrey said her "positivity was just infectious". "You'll be missed, Olivia," she wrote. "Here's to the good times."

Travolta wrote on Instagram: "Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again."

"Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever!" he added, signing off: "Your Danny, your John!"

The film's director Randal Kleiser said he had been friends with Newton-John for 40 years and "she never changed, she was always exactly the way everyone imagines her".

"She was charming, lovely, warm... There are so many clichés you can say about her, but in her case it was all true."

Asked what his everlasting memory of her will be, he told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Hanging out with her at her ranch. Seeing the real Olivia which was exactly like the Olivia she projected. No cameras around, no people around... she was exactly the same and as loving as ever."

Didi Conn, who played Frenchy in Grease, told BBC's Newsnight: "She was such a humungous, big, big pop star and her persona was of this beauty... pure and sweet. In the movie we would call her Miss Goody Two Shoes, you know, but simmering under that façade of innocence was a hot mama ready to come out."

Other tributes came from singers Kylie Minogue, who called her an inspiration, and Dionne Warwick, who called Newton-John "one of the nicest people I had the pleasure of recording and performing with".

Australian rock legend John Farnham, a long-time friend and with whom Newton-John released her final studio album, said she would be "greatly missed" and "behind that iconic smile was a tenacious fighter".

Olivia Moore, who is currently playing Sandy in Grease in London's West End, broke the news to a shocked audience at the end of Monday evening's performance.

Newton-John was first diagnosed with cancer in 1992 and went on to become a leading advocate of cancer research. Her charity, the Olivia Newton-John Foundation, has raised millions of pounds to support research.

In a statement, the hospital that runs the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Melbourne - which was opened after the star's campaigning - said she "encouraged, inspired and supported" staff and patients every day.

"We are incredibly grateful for the special relationship we had with Olivia for many years. Her generous support and gift provided hope and changed the lives of thousands of cancer patients... She was the light at the end of the tunnel for many, many people."

Her efforts in the field were recognised by the Queen, who honoured her with a damehood in the 2020 New Year's Honours list.

In a statement posted to her social media channels, Newton-John's husband John Easterling said she had died on Monday, hailing her "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 later years, Newton-John became a cancer campaigner which led to the opening of an institute named after her in Melbourne

Newton-John was born in Cambridge on 26 September 1948.

Her father had been a British spy during World War Two. Her mother was the daughter of the German Nobel laureate, Max Born, and had fled with her family when the Nazis came to power in 1933.

The family moved to Australia in 1954, where she was raised.

Her breakthrough came in 1971 when she released a Bob Dylan-penned track, If Not For You, which reached number seven in the UK charts and featured on an album of the same name.

She won four Grammy awards and scored seven US number one hits between 1974 and 1977.

While critics never warmed to her audience-friendly style of music, the star forthrightly dismissed the reviews.

"It annoys me when people think because it's commercial, it's bad," she told Rolling Stone. "It's completely opposite. If people like it, that's what it's supposed to be."

In 1978 she became a global star with the release of Grease. The film, set in the 1950s, told the story of Sandy's summer fling with John Travolta's Danny and the difficulties the relationship encounters. In the end the pair reconcile, with Sandy having transformed her appearance.

In 2019, after being diagnosed with breast cancer for the third time, she was asked by CBS News how she coped.

"It was consuming my day and after a time I went 'you know what', I need to enjoy my life so I'm going to eat a cookie if I want it," she said.

"Because the joy of life and everyday living has to be a part of that healing process as well. So I've chosen that path to be grateful and to feel good about things because the other side's not so good."


Related Articles

Beautiful Virgin Islands
China Conducts Surprise Military Drills Around Taiwan
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Grim Polls Predict Major Loss for PM Rishi Sunak
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Rishi Sunak's Campaign for UK Election: Key Issues Highlighted
BVI Freedom Song
German Property Crisis Worsens as Foreign Investment Declines
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
Princess of Wales's Taskforce Calls for Business Investment in Early Childhood
Campaign Groups Condemn UK Report on Protests
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
Former Royal Marine Charged with Espionage Found Dead
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Australian PM Calls for Julian Assange's Freedom
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
ICC Seeks Arrest Warrants for Israeli and Hamas Leaders
Hello Dolly
UK's Infected Blood Scandal: Conclusion Nears After Seven Years
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
Julian Assange Granted Right to Challenge US Extradition
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
Congo Army Thwarts Attempted Coup Involving Americans and a British Citizen
Yes He Can
Ireland's Homeless Gain Voting Rights
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Blinken orders crackdown on Israel-Hamas leaks
Julian Assange Faces US Extradition: Key Facts
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
Jacob Zuma Takes Campaign to ANC Stronghold Soweto
The Lord's Prayer
Attempted Assassination of Slovakia PM Robert Fico: Investigation Ongoing
What Happens If an Iranian President Dies in Office?
Spain Recalls Ambassador After Argentina President's Remarks
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
Rishi Sunak Faces Cabinet Backlash Over Proposed Changes to Foreign Student Visas
Ramblin' Rose
Rwanda Denies Entry to Human Rights Researcher
Protoje - Who Knows ft. Chronixx
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Reportedly Killed in Helicopter Crash
Pressure - Virgin Islands Nice
Blue Origin Resumes Space Tourism with 90-Year-Old Ed Dwight
Phil Wickham - House Of The Lord
Rishi Sunak and Wife Akshata Murty Wealthier Than King Charles
My God Is Real (Yes, God Is Real)
New Dutch Government Drives Wedge Through EU Liberals
The Lion King Circle of Life by LEBO M. — LIVE at the HAVASI Symphonic
Iranian President Raisi Missing After Helicopter Goes Down
Louis Armstrong - When The Saints Go Marching In
Freemasons and ‘Global War Party’ Accused of Conspiring Against Georgia
Kanye West Sunday Service - hallelujah, salvation, and glory
Poland Supports Rolls-Royce's Nuclear Power Plant Initiative
Jonathan Nelson - I Believe (Island Medley
European Ports Overflow with Unsold Electric Vehicles
From The Virgin Islands Sqad Up
Esprit Files for Bankruptcy in Europe, Putting Hundreds of Jobs at Risk
Common, John Legend - Glory
Chevron Halts North Sea Drilling Amid Rising Tax Burden
Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell - If I Ain't Got You
Jeremy Hunt Accused of Exaggerating Conservatives' Economic Record
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Victoria Atkins Discusses Historical Gender Bias in the NHS
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Dublin and Monaghan Bombings 50th Anniversary: Calls for Justice
BVI Freedom Song
Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty’s Wealth Rises to £651 Million
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
New Caledonia Riots Escalate After French Voting Rights Change
Renters Face Fierce Competition as Listing Times Shrink
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
Surge in Fake Science: 19 journals shut down due to fraudulent papers from 'paper mills'
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Global Birthrates Decline, Raising Economic and Social Concerns
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
Boeing Faces Possible Prosecution Over 737 MAX Settlement Violation
Hello Dolly
Prisoner Escapes in France as Two Officers Killed in Van Ambush
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
German Court Rules AfD Can Be Monitored for Extremism
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
Jacob Rees-Mogg Criticizes Bank of England’s Inflation Strategy
Yes He Can
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Promote Invictus Games in Nigeria
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
UK Arms Ban on Israel Would Aid Hamas, Says Cameron
US Regulators Probe Credit Card Reward Schemes
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
Labour Vows to End Rwanda Deportation Scheme/Scam
The Lord's Prayer
Exonerated Andrew Malkinson Faces Hardship Awaiting Compensation
India Poised to Surpass Japan as 4th Largest Economy
UN General Assembly Approves Palestinian Membership Bid
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day