Olivia Newton-John's Family to Accept Offer of a State Funeral, Niece Says: 'Australia Needs It'

·4 min read

Olivia Newton-John's niece is reflecting on her beloved aunt's legacy.

While appearing on Australia's A Current Affair program Monday following the news of the star's death at age 73, Tottie Goldsmith shared that she had the chance to say goodbye just a few days ago.

The 59-year-old said while she was not able to make it to Newton-John's California home in time, the actress and singer's husband, John Easterling, was able to connect the two over FaceTime.

"I managed to see her, and told her all the things I needed to say and wanted to say," Goldsmith explained.


Speaking on behalf of her brother and sister, the icon's niece said Newton-John was "more than a mother" to her and her siblings and an "incredible part of their lives." Goldsmith is the daughter of the "Physical" singer's sister Rona Newton-John, who died in 2013 at age 70 from brain cancer.

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According to Goldsmith, the Grease star had a "very susceptible immune system" which led to her getting "secondary infections" from her time in the hospital as well. Newton-John was open about her health since announcing her breast cancer diagnosis in 1992.

RELATED: Olivia Newton-John Dead at 73: The Star and 'Grease' Icon Dies of Breast Cancer

Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic Olivia Newton-John

"It's not a shock, we've known how sick she's been, especially the last five days," she said of her aunt, who died Monday at her ranch in Southern California.

Goldsmith remembered a time when Newton-John was seeking treatment at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute in Melbourne and asking her if she was "afraid of dying" and she was appearing "really skinny and really unwell."

Olivia Newton John, Tottie Goldsmith
Olivia Newton John, Tottie Goldsmith

Sam Tabone/WireImage Olivia Newton-John and Tottie Goldsmith

"She said, 'Plonker', which was my nickname to her, she said, 'I'm not, I'm not afraid, I've done more in my life than I could have ever imagined,' " she remembered. "She honestly never imagined her life would be how it was."

She said she believes her aunt's cancer center, and helping those with cancer is "what kept her going."

"The cancer center was more important to her than, not her family — Chloe and John and us, but more than her career," she said.

When asked by host, Tracy Grimshaw, what Newton-John was most proud of, Goldsmith teared up and named the star's daughter, Chloe Lattanzi.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 06: Chloe Lattanzi, John Easterling and attends the Olivia Newton-John Wellness Walk and Research Run on October 06, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. The event helps fund cancer research and provide access to world-leading wellness and support care programs for patients within the ONJ Centre. (Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 06: Chloe Lattanzi, John Easterling and attends the Olivia Newton-John Wellness Walk and Research Run on October 06, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. The event helps fund cancer research and provide access to world-leading wellness and support care programs for patients within the ONJ Centre. (Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage)

by Sam Tabone/WireImage Chloe Lattanzi, John Easterling and Olivia Newton-John

"She just loved her girl so much," she said of the superstar's daughter, 36.

Grimshaw also said that Newton-John's family has been offered a state funeral for her, and Goldsmith said they plan to accept.

"We will, on behalf of not just our family, but I think Australia needs it. She's so loved," Goldsmith said.

The premier of the Australian state of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, further confirmed Tuesday that the government would offer a state funeral to celebrate Newton-John's "amazing contributions."

"She took her cancer journey and used that to save lives and change lives, and that's just a deeply impressive thing," Andrews said, per News.com.au.

"The research that's done there (at the cancer and wellness center), the treatment, the care, the love and support that is central to that place is a lasting legacy to the person that she was," the lawmaker added.

Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John

Sarah Morris/Getty Olivia Newton-John

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Easterling, 70, announced his wife's death Monday on Newton-John's social media channels writing, "Dame Olivia Newton-John 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," the post continued. "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 @onjfoundation."