Olivia Newton-John has died at the age of 73 after a brave and extraordinarily public decades-long battle with cancer.
The actress died peacefully at her home in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Her husband John Easterling announced her death on her Facebook page.
‘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,’ he said.
Among the first to pay tribute to her on Monday was John Travolta, her co-star in Grease – the 1978 movie that catapulted her career and made her a global icon.
Olivia Newton-John, left, in one of her last public appearances in 2019. The actress died on Monday aged 73. She is shown, right, in her most iconic role in Grease in 1978
Newton-John’s husband announced her death on her Facebook page on Monday. She was 73
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in the iconic 1978 movie Grease that catapulted her career. He was among the first to pay tribute to her on Monday
John Travolta was among the first to pay tribute to Newton-John on Instagram. Their joint performance catapulted both of their careers in 1978
‘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.
Newton-John’s daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, posted this tribute to her days ago
‘Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!’ he said in an Instagram post.
The family asked for donations to be made to her cancer organization, the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, instead of flowers.
She is survived by her 36-year-old daughter, Chloe Lattanzi. Chloe posted a loving tribute to her mother on Instagram three days ago, saying: ‘I worship this woman. My mother. My best friend.’
The actress famously beat breast cancer twice but was diagnosed again in 2017.
She spent the last few years at home, campaigning for animals’ rights and raising money for her charity online.
In a haunting interview with The Guardian in 2020, she said of the disease: ‘It’s been a part of my life for so long.
‘I felt something was wrong. It’s concerning when it comes back, but I thought “I’ll get through it again”‘.
In other interviews, when asked how she battled the disease so bravely, she said: ‘I’ve had and am having an amazing life so I have no complaints.
‘I really don’t. Everyone goes through something. We all have something we need to go through in life. This has been my challenge.’
Born in England to an MI5 agent father, Newton-John and her family moved to Melbourne, Australia, when she was six. She returned to the UK as a teenager to pursue a singing career and starred in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974.
Her big break in Grease came four years later. She famously resisted the part, at first turning down producer Allan Carr because she thought she was too old for the role.
When the movie was released, it was an immediate, international hit and she became a global sex symbol.
Newton-John’s death was announced by her husband, John Easterling, on her Facebook page on Monday
Olivia Newton-John’s home in southern California where she died peacefully today surrounded by family
She would later defend her sweet-to-sexy transition for years to come and amid a wave of criticism from during the #MeToo movement.
‘It’s a movie. It’s a story from the 50s where things were different. Everyone forgets that, at the end, he changes for her, too. There’s nothing deep in there about the #MeToo movement. It’s just a girl who loves a guy, and she thinks if she does that, he’ll like her.
‘And he thinks if he does that, she’ll like him. I think that’s pretty real. People do that for each other. It was a fun love story.’
Riding a wave of success from Grease, she hammed up her newfound sex symbol status with Physical, her most successful album and single released in 1981.
It was dedicated to her first, Matt Lattanzi, to whom she was married between 1984 until 1995.
Newton-John’s iconic sweet-to-sexy transformation was recreated for years to come in costumes and tributes
Newton-John famously resisted the part of Sandy in the 1978 movie Grease. She was 28 at the time and thought she was too old to play a fresh-faced high school student
After Grease, Newton-John’s acting career faltered. She appeared alongside Lattanzi in the movie Xanadu in 1980, but it failed to impress in the box office.
She took three years off work following the birth of her daughter in 1986, then was struck with her first cancer diagnosis in 1992 when she was 44.
After her first diagnosis, she devoted her career largely to charity and humanitarian work.
She was notoriously open about taking drugs, particularly for healing purposes, and met her second husband on an ayahuasca retreat in Peru. They returned to the country to get married in 2008.
Newton-John (left) in 1974 competing in the Eurovision Song Contest for Britain, four years before starring in Grease. She is shown singing (right) in 1980
Let’s get physical: Newton-John promoting her 1980 album. It was dedicated to her first husband Matt Latanzi, right. The pair were marries from 1984 until 1995