R.I.P. Olivia Newton-John, ‘Grease’ star and four-time Grammy-winner

The pop star had multiple battles with cancer and was seen as an inspiration to countless people over the last three decades.

AP Images

Even if you weren’t a fan of pop music in the 1970s, and regardless of your age, there’s still a pretty good chance you know the face and voice of Olivia Newton-John.

Before she was catapulted into a new realm of stardom in the 1978 musical Grease, Newton-John had already created a name for herself.

The England-born and Australia-raised singer-songwriter began her career as a teenager, appearing on various music programs in Australia. Her first single, “Till You Say You’ll Be Mine” was released in 1966, but it was the early ‘70s when her career really began to flourish.

Her first No. 1 song was “I Honestly Love You,” which peaked on Oct. 5, 1974. The following year, “Have You Never Been Mellow” hit the top of the charts for a week.

The already promising and successful music career of Olivia Newton-John got a once-in-a-lifetime boost, with the 1978 film Grease, arguably the most popular and recognizable musical ever.

Her role as Sandy did more than turn heads. The costar role, next to John Travolta as Danny Zuko, gave the pop star a vast new audience, allowing them to hear her in three of the movie’s top songs.

“You’re The One That I Want,” a duet with Travolta, became a No. 1 hit in 1978. Grease, which was the year’s top-grossing movie according to CNN, took Newton-John’s career to a whole new level.

She told CNN in 2017, “I don’t think anyone could have imagined a movie would go on almost 40 years and would still be popular and people would still be talking to me about it all the time and loving it.”

She added she was very lucky to have landed the role, and sing “Summer Nights” and the solo “Hopelessly Devoted To You.” Newton-John didn’t slow down after the film, and her time atop the charts wasn’t over, either.

Her next chart-topping hit was “Magic,” which came from the 1980 musical flop Xanadu, a movie in which Newton-John appeared with Gene Kelly, his final on-screen role. Though the movie wasn’t remotely on the same wavelength as Grease, the film allowed “Magic” to reach No. 1 on the charts in 1980, holding the spot for four weeks.

You can make the argument Newton-John’s most successful venture of her career was Grease, but it wasn’t until after the classic musical was a few years old that we saw her top-performing single get released.

There was no bigger No. 1 song of Newton-John’s career than the 1981 smash-hit “Physical.” The suggestive, up-beat tune was the star’s biggest, lasting 10 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Featured in a film that has stood the test of time, Newton-John is a household name across multiple generations. Part of the reason why so many fans were shaken to learn the star was battling breast cancer both in the early ‘90s and in 2017.

In 2018, a new form of cancer had surfaced in the base of her spine.

The worldwide ‘70s icon passed away Monday, according to an Instagram post made by her husband, John Easterling, on her verified account.

“Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends… Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” the post read in part.

When all said and done, Newton-John had five No. 1 hits in her career to go along with four Grammy Award victories from 12 nominations.

She was 73.

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horribleHDanny 23 months ago
This one REALLY broke my heart!!One of my first crushes and a truly sweet person,with a voice like honey dripping down a tree!!R.I.P. my Olivia!!=(
AllisonWunderland 23 months ago
What a phenomenal and sweet person. You will be missed but not forgotten…RIP Olivia 🙏🏻
jacko3 23 months ago
A beautiful lady, fine talent, brave personality .. May the True Risen LORD Bless Olivia Newton-John for Eternity ~ Amen Alleluia!
WilliamUchtman 23 months ago
Not many people know this, but Olivia's sister, Rhona Newton-John, was also an actress. She was one of the cast members of "The Benny Hill Hill Show" in the 70s.
mmradiantsun 23 months ago
Rip Nichelle Nichols. Condolences to your family and friends. I watched star trek all the time. You played the part Uhura like you were the actual person. Great actress and one of the leading roles as a strong woman. You broke the barrier that woman are smart and strong and can be beautiful at the same time.
mmradiantsun 23 months ago
Correction to my post. You fought hard against this deadly disease cancer
mmradiantsun 23 months ago
Rip Olivia Newton John. You were a gift to all of us . I always heard what a beautiful and sweet person you were. You fought hard again this deadly disease cancer . I really know first hand how cancer can change your life. I will never forget you . Your legacy will live on . I love your music and your acting talent but most important we your fans loved you Olivia the person. You were taken too soon but your legacy will live on. Rest in peace my friend rest in peace. Condolences to your husband, daughter Chloe, sister Rona , your extended family and friends. Ps a message to your daughter Chloe. Your mom I could tell from what she said and did loved you very much. Goodbye OliviaNewton John for now but not forever.
NickG 23 months ago
Saw her once. Wish I had known it was OK for people to bring her flowers and gifts on stage. She seemed so genuine. RIP. You were amazingly brave and talented.
musicman37 23 months ago
I'm glad I got to see her live (twice) in my life. She was not just a great singer, but a fantastic entertainer. She was the perky British girl-next-door while I was growing up, and she was immensely popular. My favorite version of "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" has and will always be the one by Livvy. Rest in Peace, Sweet Angel.
Rita6868 23 months ago
Growing up in the 70's was great.We had alot of music playing in the house.One sister playing mostly rock, a brother playing Led Zeppelin and big sis playing The Carpenters, Olivia, John Denver and Barry Manilow.I could not wait to hear The Carpenters.I saw Grease at the theater and still have the album.Olivia had a beautiful voice.She was on The Merv Griffin Show in 1981 with John Travolta, Karen and Richard Carpenter.Karen said Livi wants us(Karen and her husband)to move to Malibu to be closer to her.Livi now you and Karen can live together in paradise.The 2 angels singing together.Beautiful.Thanks for the beautiful music Olivia.Rest easy.
GoUTVols1961 23 months ago
All I can say is GORGEOUS! I am so sad.
tootsieg 23 months ago
Very sad. We are losing so many from the movies, TV and music world.
RIP Olivia.
Lillyrose 23 months ago
Olivia Newton-John is one of my favorite singers. RIP, Olivia Newton-John. Prayers for her soul.
Rob 23 months ago
I was still reeling from the news of Roger E. Mosley’s passing when I heard the news about Olivia Newton-John. This one really hurts and I don’t know why it affects me so much.
daDoctah Rob 23 months ago
And then, Lamont Dozier of the original Four Tops.
Barry22 daDoctah 23 months ago
Dozier was not a member of The Four Tops. but he did write some songs for them.
musicman37 Barry22 23 months ago
Lamont was a member of the famous Holland-Dozier-Holland writing and production team at Motown, then later at their own Hot Wax and Invictus Record companies. They wrote and/or produced scads of hits for the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Honey Cone and many others.
eddiecantorfan 23 months ago
Physical by Olivia Newton John a wonderful song by
A wonderful woman!!
Rest In Peace
Hilary 23 months ago
Olivia is a role model not as just as a celebrity but as a woman who battled cancer valiantly and never gave up. Rest In Peace beautiful Olivia.
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