Grease star Olivia Newton-John dies aged 73

·4 min read
Grease star Olivia Newton-John dies aged 73

Dame Olivia Newton-John has died at the age of 73, her husband has confirmed.

The British-born singer died "peacefully" at her ranch in Southern California on Monday morning, surrounded by family and friends.

Newton-John is best known for her starring role as Sandy in the 1978 film Grease, in which she starred opposite John Travolta.

In a statement posted on social media, Newton-John’s widower John Easterling said: "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."

She is survived by her husband as well as her daughter Chloe Lattanzi, who paid tribute to her mother with a selection of images on Instagram.

The post included pictures of Ms Lattanzi as a baby as well as more showing the pair appearing to give interviews together.

Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer three times.

But instead of focusing on her third prognosis, she raised funds for research into the effects of cannabis as a cancer treatment.

The star also sold some of her film memorabilia in order to raise money for research, including the iconic “bad Sandy” outfit from Grease.

Newton-John first overcame cancer in 1992 and was then in remission until 2013, when she was again diagnosed with the disease.

She revealed she had been diagnosed with cancer for the third time in three decades in September 2018.

At the time, she told Australian news programme Sunday Night that doctors had found a tumour in her lower back in 2017.

The singer said she was treating the illness “naturally” and was using cannabis oil made from marijuana her husband grows in California to alleviate the pain.

She received a damehood for her services to charity, cancer research and entertainment in 2020.

She was born in Cambridge, England, but her family moved to Melbourne in Australia when she was six years old.

While having early success as a singer, her career soared after she starred in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Grease in 1978.

Grease became the biggest box-office hit of 1978, and the soundtrack created three ‘Top 5’ singles for Newton-John, including ‘You’re the One That I Want’, ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’, and ‘Summer Nights’.

Tributes are flowing for the iconic actress and singer.

Her co-star John Travolta said: “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!”

Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin recalled starring alongside Dame Olivia Newton-John in the 1996 film It’s My Party, one of the first films to address the topic of Aids patients dying with dignity.

She said: “I am SO saddened at the news of the passing of Olivia Newton John. I remember being so star struck when I met her at my first Hollywood gathering for Paramount. She was the sweetest and brightest light and I loved getting to know her on It’s My Party. RIP dear, sweet Olivia.”

Star Trek actor George Takei has paid tribute to Dame Olivia Newton-John calling her a “great, iconic artist”.

Aside from her hit role in the film, Newton-John is also a multi-platinum selling artist, with two singles and two albums having earned the certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

She also represented the UK in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Long Live Love. She finished fourth in the competition, held in Brighton, losing out to Abba, with their hit song Waterloo.