Singer, songwriter, actress and activist Olivia Newton-John died Monday morning at age 73. Her family wrote in a statement shared on social media: “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. 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).” Newton-John was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in the ’90s; and was in remission for more than 20 years before it returned in 2013. In 2018, she revealed that the disease returned and metastasized to her spine.
Newton-John’s musical breakthrough came in 1973 with the country hit “Let Me Be There.” The next year, the singer released one of her signature songs. “I Honestly Love You,” which won Grammys for record of the year and best female pop vocal performance in 1974. Newton-John rose to international fame in 1978, playing Sandy alongside John Travolta’s Danny Zuko in the big-screen adaptation of the musical “Grease.” The two became one of the most beloved couples on film, performing the duets “You’re the One That I Want” and “Summer Nights” together. Travolta posted a tribute to her on Instagram, writing: “My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. 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! Your Danny, your John!”
In 1980, Newton-John teamed with the legendary Gene Kelly for the roller-skating fantasy “Xanadu,” and became a music-video pioneer with her single “Physical” which spent 10 weeks at the top of the charts and won the 1982 Grammy for video of the year. Newton-John sold more than 100 million albums and continued to work until the recurrence of her cancer forced her postpone her 2017 tour.
Newton-John and her ex-husband, actor Matt Lattanzi, welcomed their daughter Chloe in 1986 She later helped establish the “Healthy Child, Healthy World” organization after the daughter of Newton-John’s friend died of a rare form of cancer. During her battle with breast cancer, Newton-John worked to raise awareness for the disease and established the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Center in her hometown of Melbourne in 2012. In 2020, she launched the Olivia Newton-John Foundation to fund research for treatments and therapies to cure cancer.
Newton-John is survived by her husband John Easterling, daughter Chloe Lattanzi, sister Sarah Newton-John, brother Toby Newton-John and her many nieces and nephews.
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