Olivia Newton-John shared one final heartbreaking post on Instagram on Friday just three days before she passed away from cancer aged 73.
The British-Australian actress and singer had shared a happy throwback photo with her beloved husband John Easterling, 70, simply writing: ‘Flashback Friday’ but made no reference to her health struggles.
Olivia was last pictured on April 18 when she stood in front of a backdrop of sunflowers in her garden, while smiling from ear-to-ear.
She had written: ‘Wishing everyone a Happy Easter on this beautiful Spring day.’
‘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,’ he captioned an Instagram post alongside a photo of Newton-John.
‘Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!’
Farewell: Olivia Newton-John shared a final, throwback heartbreaking Instagram post with husband John Easterling on Friday just three days before she passed away from cancer aged 73 – as tributes poured in from Hollywood
In memory: Newton-John’s Instagram was mostly made up of flashback posts from throughout her career, but on April 18 the star shared a rare candid photo of herself with a beaming smile beside a bed of sunflowers
Among other tributes included Australian singer Delta Goodrem, who honoured her beloved ‘mentor and friend’.
Delta, 37, shared pictures of herself hugging Olivia and said she was ‘like family’ to her.
‘I love you forever,’ Delta wrote in her moving post. ‘The whole world will feel this heartbreak today because the entire world felt Olivia’s unmatched light. A force for good. A force of nature. Strong and kind.’
‘My mentor, my friend, my inspiration, someone who always guided me… she was always there for me. Family to me.’
She added: ‘I don’t have all the words I would like to say today but I hope everyone will join in celebrating our beloved Olivia, her heart, soul, talent, courage, grace… I love you forever ❤️.’
The Lost Without You songstress famously played the Aussie icon in the 2018 TV miniseries, Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You.
Iconic role: Olivia is most known for her famous role as Sandy in the 1978 movie Grease (pictured, Newton-John with Grease co-star John Travolta)
Heartbreaking: Grease co-star John Travolta was among the first to pay tribute to Newton-John writing: ‘your Danny, your John’ under a photo (above) of the star
Poignant: John wrote this touching caption alongside the beautiful throwback image of his co-star
Kylie Minogue shared a throwback photo of herself and Olivia side by side at the Royal Bicentennial Concert.Kylie appears to be starstruck by the Grease star, as she looks on at her idol.
Singer Dionne Warwick, 81, wrote ‘Another angelic voice has been added to the Heavenly Choir. Not only was Olivia a dear friend, but one of the nicest people I had the pleasure of recording and performing with. I will most definitely miss her. She now Rests in the Arms of the Heavenly Father.’
Brooke Shields, 57, shared a lovely black and white photo of her and Olivia to Instagram, writing: ‘A true class act whose light shines everywhere she went… she inspired us all.’
‘A wonderful mother and wife, who was grace and strength personified. Sending all of my love to Olivias family and friends. She’ll never be forgotten.’
Scarface star Michelle Pfeiffer, 64, posted a photo of her and Olivia writing ‘Thank you for your art and talent you gifted us all so graciously with. You will be so greatly missed.’
Dancing With The Stars pro Peta Murgatroyd, 36, shared an Instagram Story, writing: ‘This has done me over today. An Aussie icon and legend, there will never be another. This is so tragic. RIP the beloved Sandy.’
Deepest condolences: In a sweet Instagram tribute, Kylie Minogue, 54, shared a throwback photo of the pair in 1988. ‘I have loved and looked up to Olivia Newton-John. And, I always will,’
Heartbroken: Delta Goodrem paid tribute to her beloved ‘mentor and friend’ Olivia Newton-John after the Grease star’s death at the age of 73 following a lengthy cancer fight
‘A force of nature’: Delta shared this sweet caption alongside the black and white image of herself with Olivi
All-stars: Nicole Kidman, 55, (left) and her husband Keith Urban, 54, (right) paid tribute to the beloved Olivia (centre) on Tuesday
The couple shared photos of themselves with their long-time friend and Aussie icon in happier times. One of the snaps showed Nicole with her arm around Olivia as they attended the second Annual Penfolds Gala Black Tie Dinner at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles in 2005
She wrote: ‘Since I was ten years old, I have loved and looked up to Olivia Newton John. And, I always will. She was and always will be, an inspiration to me in so many, many ways. My deepest condolences to her family and loved ones. x ONJ4EVER.’
‘Livvie brought the most divine light into the world,’ Nicole, 55, captioned the pictures on Instagram.
She continued, ‘So much love, joy, inspiration and kindness, and we will always be hopelessly devoted to you,’ in reference to the song Olivia recorded for the Grease soundtrack.
One of the snaps showed Nicole with her arm around Olivia as they attended the second Annual Penfolds Gala Black Tie Dinner at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles in 2005.
The same year, the Grease star was spotted with Keith’s, 54, arm around her at the 39th Annual Country Music Awards in New York.
Elton John, 75, shared a picture of himself with Olivia as he spoke about her courage.
He wrote: ‘The saddest of news to wake up to. Olivia was a beautiful and courageous woman, who I never heard complain about her illness. A beautiful voice and a warm and loving friend. I will miss her so much. Condolences to her family and loved ones.’
Bindi Irwin shared a photo of herself holding the iconic actress’ hand during a charity event and wrote: ‘One of the kindest and most wonderful souls the world has ever known.’
‘Love and Light ONJ. You were a true icon and I absolutely adored you,’ Rebel Wilson also said.
Barbra Streisand wrote on Instagram: ‘Too young to leave this world. May she RIP.’
Antonio Banderas said: ‘Rest in peace, Olivia Newton-John. Deepest condolences to her family and loved ones.’
RIP: Barbra Streisand shared this throwback image of herself wIth Olivia and wrote that she was ‘too young to leave this world’
Rest in peace: Fellow actor Antonio Banderas also paid tribute to Olivia via social media
Meanwhile, Richard Wilkins broke down on the Today show as he spoke about the death of his long-time friend.
Wilkins, 68, burst into tears as his last interview with Olivia was aired.
Today host Karl Stefanovic left his seat on the panel to comfort his colleague as he wiped away tears.
‘I didn’t want to do this,’ Wilkins wept.
‘It’s alright,’ Stefanovic said while hugging the presenter. ‘This woman was extraordinary.’
Richard appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday and revealed he had texted John to offer his condolences, and said he is understandably very cut up about her death.
He said: ‘I texted John. One of the weird things about the job I do, when something like this happens – it is almost exactly 12 hours ago that I got the phone call from one of our producers who told us the horrible news.
‘I will miss her so much’: Elton shared a photo of himself and Olivia, calliing her a ‘courageous woman’ who he ‘never heard complain about her illness’
Forever: Actress Elle Fanning, 24, posted a beautiful photo of the star writing: ‘Forever icon’
True icon: Fellow Australian star Rebel Wilson, 42, wrote ‘You were a true icon and I absolutely adored you!’
Inspiration: Yolanda Hadid, 58, shared a tribute on Instagram: ‘Rest In Peace beautiful angel, it was an honor to know you,’ adding, ‘thank you for decades of inspiration’
Special: Actress Goldie Hawn, 76, shared an iconic video of herself on stage with Olivia, Meryl Streep, Bette Midler, and Cher as they performed What A Wonderful World during an all-star charity concert in 1990 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles
Homage: Her daughter Kate Hudson, 43, also paid homage to the legendary star, sharing a video of herself singing Hopelessly Devoted To You, first crooned by Newton-John’s character, Sandy Olsson, in Grease (1978)
‘You go to work, talk about Olivia all day and you find yourself reaching out to people. Most of the people around her who you would expect and like to hear from aren’t ready to talk publicly, and such is the nature of social media that people can issue statements. But aside from that, a lot of people – John is heartbroken; he’s too raw to talk.’
He added: ‘They, of course, shared an enormously close bond after starring in one of the world’s favourite movies together. Olivia leaves such a great hole in the world.
The 41-year-old was chatting to hosts Natalie Barr and David ‘Kochie’ Koch about performing at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham when she was asked about her memories with late Grease star Olivia.
Towards the end of the chat, Vanessa called time on the interview as she broke down in tears after a picture of herself, Olivia and Tina Arena flashed up on screen.
Peter Andre took to Instagram to share an image alongside Olivia when they performed in a charity concert together, after it was revealed she died following a 30-year battle with breast cancer.
Too hard to carry on: Australian singer Vanessa Amorosi cut short her live interview on Sunrise on Tuesday, as she learned the news of Olivia Newton-John’s death and became overcome with emotion
In the caption Peter, who has been starring in a West End revival of Grease, described Olivia as a ‘warm, kind and loving person,’ who ‘spent time speaking to everyone backstage’ after they worked together decades earlier.
Peter, who was among a slew of stars who paid tribute to Olivia, penned the caption: ‘My sister Debbie just sent me this photo. The night of the Spina Bifida charity concert in Australia where I had the privilege to perform alongside Dame Olivia Newton John.
‘This photo reminds me what a warm, kind and giving person she was. She smiled constantly and spent time speaking to everyone backstage. I will never forget it.’
Earlier that evening, Peter had shared another tribute to Olivia, adding in a poignant note that ‘Grease would be very different for them now.’
Sharing a trio of images of Olivia throughout her life, the caption said: ‘This has made me really really sad. I have had the privilege of meeting the incredible Olivia a few times and even worked with her on a special Spina Bifida concert in Australia.
Sweet: Peter Andre shared a touching throwback snap with Olivia Newton-John as he shared his memories of her
A tragedy! Earlier that evening, Peter had shared another tribute to Olivia, adding in a poignant note that ‘Grease would be very different for them now’
Paying tribute: In the caption the star said Olivia ‘lit up every room,’ after it was announced on Monday she’d passed away following a battle with cancer
‘She was lovely in every way. Always lit up the room. Thoughts with her family. RIP…. Grease will feel very different for us now. #brave #strongwoman #iconic @therealonj #olivianewtonjohn #grease #letsgetphysical #xanadu #spinabifida.’
Shane Warne‘s ex-wife Simone Callahan shared a sweet tribute and posted a video montage containing pictures of her late cricketer husband Shane and Olivia together, as well as the Grease star in the 1980 film Xanadu.
‘You will always be my Queen, one more angel in heaven,’ Simone captioned her post. May you rest in peace beautiful Dame Olivia Newton John ❤️ We will miss you.’
Simone went on to say that Olivia passed away on August 8, the release date of her iconic film Xanadu.
The movie is about an artist who falls in love with Newton-John’s character and Greek muse Kira.
‘The irony that she passed on the 42nd anniversary of Xanadu because to so many she was an Inspiration and icon, so much grace, talent and beauty,’ Simone said.
Paying tribute: Her daughter Chloe Lattanzi shared a photo with her mother just three days before her death, writing: ‘I worship this woman. My mother. My best friend’
‘I worship this woman’: Her daughter shared a moving post alongside some beautiful images
‘Vale Olivia Newton-John, I hope you’ve found Xanadu.’
Actress Mandy Moore, 38, shared a black and white photo of the star, with the caption ‘Thank you for the joy you brought countless people around the world.’
Meanwhile her other Grease co-tar Stockard Channing, 78, called Olivia ‘the essence of summer’ in a statement to People.
‘I don’t know if I’ve known a lovelier human being. Olivia was the essence of summer – her sunniness, her warmth and her grace are what always come to mind when I think of her. I will miss her enormously.’
George Takei, 85, also paid tribute to the actress, writing on Twitter: ‘We have lost a great, iconic artist in Olivia Newton John, gone too soon from us at age 73.’
‘I trust she is now is the great Xanadu beyond. Know that we are forever helplessly devoted to you, Olivia. Rest in song and mirth.’
Singer Richard Marx, 58, posted photos of himself along with the late actress, writing: ‘My heart is broken. Rest now, sweet friend. You were as kind and loving a person as there’s ever been. I’ll miss you every day.’
Emotional: Host Karl Stefanovic left his seat on the panel to comfort his colleague Richard Wilkins who broke down in tears
Painful: Richard appeared on British TV show Good Morning Britain on Tuesday and revealed he had texted John to offer his condolences, and said he is understandably very cut up about her deat
Underworld star Kate Beckinsale, 49, posted a snap of the star as Sandy, writing ‘RIP, absolute icon. Thank you for the years of joy.’
‘RIP What an icon,’ Katharine McPhee, 38, wrote over a photo of a younger Olivia looking radiant in a black trench coat.
X-Men star Hugh Jackman, 53, wrote a heartfelt message on Instagram revealing Olivia was his first ‘crush’ and that he kissed her poster ‘every night before bed.’
‘I’m devastated to hear the news that @therealonj has passed away. One of the great privileges of my life was getting to know her. Not only was she one of the most talented people I’ve known… she was one of the most open hearted, generous and funny.’
‘She was a one of kind spirit. It’s no secret Olivia was my first crush. I kissed her (poster) every night before bed. Her legacy will only grow stronger in the years to come. A fighter for healing from cancer that knows no bounds. I love you Olivia.’
Special: Bindi Irwin also shared a photo of herself holding the iconic actress’ hand during a charity event and wrote: ‘One of the kindest and most wonderful souls the world has ever known’
Tribute: Shane Warne ‘s ex-wife Simone Callahan shared a sweet tribute to Olivia after the singer’s death following a 30-year battle with cancer
Actress Goldie Hawn, 76, shared an iconic video of herself on stage with Olivia, Meryl Streep, Bette Midler, and Cher as they performed What A Wonderful World during an all-star charity concert in 1990 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles.
‘A light landed on this planet 73 years ago. Her voice brought us to such joyous heights, nothing held her back, nothing. Her mind was strong and heroic. Olivia’s light will continue to shine and will never flicker. Never. Rest sweetheart. Rest peacefully, you are Love,’ she wrote in her caption underneath.
Her daughter Kate Hudson, 43, also paid homage to the legendary star. While paying her respects to the Australian icon, the Almost Famous star shared a video of herself singing Hopelessly Devoted To You, first crooned by Newton-John’s character, Sandy Olsson, in Grease (1978).
As she cradled her three-year-old daughter, Rani Rose, in her arms, the mother-three belted out the chorus before penning a heartfelt tribute to her ‘inspiration.’
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Rinna, 59, shared an autographed photo of Olivia with the words ‘Rest In Peace.’
Rest in peace: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Rinna, 59, shared an autographed photo of Olivia with the words ‘Rest In Peace’
Icon: ‘RIP What an icon,’ Katharine McPhee, 38, wrote over a photo of a younger Olivia looking radiant in a black trench coat
Tribute: Stockard Channing was one of many stars who paid tribute to Olivia Newton-John on Monday
Touching: The 78-year-old actress called her Grease co-star ‘the essence of summer’ and said she will ‘miss her enormously’ in a touching statement to People; (L) Channing as Rizzo (R) Newton-John as Sandy in 1978 stills from Grease
Yolanda Hadid, 58, shared a tribute on Instagram: ‘Rest In Peace beautiful angel, it was an honor to know you,’ adding, ‘thank you for decades of inspiration.’
Actress Elle Fanning, 24, posted a beautiful photo of the star writing: ‘Forever icon’ while Gabrielle Union, 49, shared a snap of Olivia from Grease.
Fellow Australian star Rebel Wilson, 42, wrote ‘You were a true icon and I absolutely adored you!’
Comedian Rosie O’Donnell, 60, took to Instagram and TikTok with a video expressing her sadness at the news.
‘Oh boy, just heard about Olivia Newton-John. What a great woman she was. She fought long and hard. She had cancer a while.’
‘I loved her, I almost bought her house in Florida. It didn’t go through but… she was amazing, and I lover her. It’s very sad. Rest in Peace, beautiful woman.’
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, posted a 1978 photo of Newton-John and Travolta.
‘Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta at the 50th Academy Awards (April 3, 1978). A few months later, they took the world by storm as Sandy and Danny in ‘Grease’ – which went on to become the highest grossing film of 1978, proving that Grease is (and forever will be) the word.’
The star has asked fans to donate to her charity instead of buying flowers in her memory before she died – as her moving photo – the last picture taken of her outside of Instagram was revealed.
The picture shows her surrounded by sunflowers with a beaming smile.
Newton-John, who shot to international stardom thanks to her role as Sandy in the 1978 movie Grease, died on Monday morning surrounded by family at her home in southern California after a long battle with breast cancer.
Her husband revealed the actress’ final request was for donations to be made to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, ‘in lieu of flowers’.
The foundation funds research into plant-based medicine and holistic treatments for cancer.
In a final video posted just before Christmas, Olivia thanked her fans for their support over the years.
‘I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish all a primarily healthy, happy, peaceful Christmas,’ she said.
Strong: In her final video post, shared just before Christmas Newton-John wished fans a ‘happy, peaceful’ Christmas after a tough 2021
Paying tribute: Fans left flowers and photos on Newton-John’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (above) after she died on Monday morning
‘I know it’s been a very, very, very difficult time for everybody in the whole planet – so this is a time we can get together, celebrate each other and our families and whatever faith that you believe in we can express it with each other which is very important.
‘I want to thank you all for all of your support over the years and I wish you all the best and send you love and light.
Newton-John’s battle with breast cancer first began in 1992 when she was just 44 years old. She was very open about her diagnosis and treatment, which famously included the use of medical marijuana.
Her cancer returned in 2013 and again in 2017.
Newton-John and Easterling met while on a ayahuasca retreat in Peru.
Olivia is survived by her 36-year-old daughter Chloe Lattanzi – who posted a loving tribute to her mother on Instagram three days ago, saying: ‘I worship this woman. My mother. My best friend.’
Tragic: Her husband John announced her passing with this beautiful picture of the star on Instagram
Words: This caption was posted alongside the picture, announcing the news that Olivia had passed away
During the candid chat, Olivia revealed her deep faith and the pact she made with God while pregnant with daughter Chloe Lattanzi back in the eighties.
‘I remember when I was pregnant with Chloe, and I was close to losing her,’ Olivia explained on the podcast.
‘I went to bed and asked God to save her and if he did, I would say the Lord’s Prayer every night for the rest of my life and so I have.’
She added: ‘I think prayer is very powerful.’
Olivia also shared her thoughts on death and faith, saying she believed there was something out there after you die.
‘Have you contemplated your death?’ the podcast host asked.
‘I have quite a few times that it was a possibility sooner than I wanted it,’ Olivia said.
‘We all know we are going to die… I think we spend our lives denying it. It’s extremely personal. I find it hard to put into words, I feel we are all part of one thing, I have had experiences with spirits or spirit life and felt the spirit world and have heard things, that I believe there is something that happens.’
Olivia said she thought there was ‘energy’ and a life of some sort after death.
‘It’s almost like we are parts of the same computer and we go back to the main battery. I don’t have a definite definition of what it is,’ she explained.
‘I think there is a great knowingness out there we become part of it. I hope that the energies of the people you love will be there… I think all the love will be there… I’m sort of looking forward to that, not now, but when it happens,’ she added with a laugh.
However, in one of her last red carpet appearances. Olivia confessed that she had been in ‘denial’ about her cancer battle in recent years – and refused to label her struggle to live as a ‘fight.’
Just two years before her passing, she spoke candidly about her outlook on life at the G’Day USA benefit in Beverly Hills alongside former co-star Travolta.
‘Gosh, life is a gift and I’ve had an amazing life and I intend to keep going with it and I want to help other people with cancer of course,’ she told DailyMail.com in the January 2020 interview.
‘I have my wellness center in Melbourne and I want to see an end to cancer in my lifetime so other people don’t have to suffer.’
Reflecting on her fight to beat the condition, she admitted: ‘I don’t see it as a battle. I don’t think about it a lot, to be honest. Denial is a really good thing and I’m getting stronger and better all the time! I am doing well!…I am feeling wonderful.’
She also admitted that she had hope for her future.
‘I’m winning over and living with it well and that’s how I see it,’ she added.
The actress famously beat breast cancer twice but was diagnosed again in 2017. She spent the last few years at home, campaigning for animal rights and raising money for her charity.
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.’
Olivia committed a large portion of her personal fortune to support her charity three years before her death.
The Grease star used money raised from a massive sell-off of her real estate and invested it in The Olivia Newton-John Foundation for cancer research, reports the New York Post.
After she learned she had stage 4 cancer in 2019, Olivia selflessly threw herself into raising money for the foundation which was established in 2012 by selling off most of her massive real estate portfolio.
Olivia spoke candidly about her positive outlook on life amid her long battle with cancer, in an interview with DailyMail.com at the G’Day USA benefit in Beverly Hills in January 2020. She is pictured with her niece, Australian actress Tottie Goldsmith
After failing to sell her California ranch in 2019, Olivia transferred ownership to the Santa Barbara property to her husband John Easterling.
In 2019, Olivia also sold off her 189-acre farm located in Dalwood, New South for $6.6million.
The beloved star initially purchased the land in the 1980s and rebuilt the home in the early 2000s.
‘Olivia loved helping people. She spent the last two decades of her life giving back,’ a source close to the star told the publication.
‘She wanted to leave behind something that would last, and something that her daughter, too, could benefit from.’
Over the years, Olivia invested in her Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital.
Olivia did not let her grave illness stop what would be her final performance in Australia.
The international superstar appeared before thousands of fans at Sydney‘s Accor Stadium for the Fire Fight Australia concert in February in 2020, two years before her death.
Olivia bravely took to the stage to sing a duet with John Farham as she fought cancer which had spread to the base of her spine.
Wow! Olivia performed at the Fire Fight Australia charity event amid her breast cancer battle two years before her death. Pictured: John Farham (L) and Olivia (R) at the event
Powerful: She belted out Two Strong Hearts with John during the 10-hour charity event that raised $9.5million in the wake of the deadly Black Summer Bushfires of 2019-2020
She belted out Two Strong Hearts with John during the 10-hour charity event which raised $9.5million in the wake of the deadly Black Summer Bushfires of 2019-2020.
Olivia looked radiant as she emerged on-stage in a kimono by Aussie designer Camilla Franks. Later, the Xanadu star was joined by Queen’s Adam Lambert to sing John Farham’s 1986 megahit, You’re the Voice.
Born in England to an MI5 agent father, Brinley, or ‘Brin’, 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.
As an MI5 agent and Bletchley Park codebreaker, then an acclaimed educator, Brin’s career could not have been any more different from his daughter’s, but it was in many ways just as remarkable.
And he was far from the only exceptional character on Olivia’s family tree. Her grandfather was the renowned Jewish German physicist Dr Max Born, who was forced to flee to England after the Nazis came to power in 1933.
He ended up teaching at the University of Edinburgh for twenty years before returning back to Germany. In 1954, Born was awarded the Nobel prize in physics for his ‘Born Rule’, a foundational theory of quantum mechanics.
His son and Olivia’s cousin, Gustav Born, was a leading pharmacologist, who was among the first allied personnel to witness the medical aftermath of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.
After noting the tendency of victims to suffer from severe bleeding disorders, he concluded this was due to a lack of blood platelets caused to radiation damage. Subsequent research into the role of platelets made a considerable contribution to the detection of thrombosis.
As if being related to two scientific geniuses was not enough, Olivia was also the third cousin of Ben Elton, the actor and comedian who helped write the legendary sitcom Blackadder.
Newton-John got her first break at just 15-years-old, winning the Sitmar Talent Quest on Channel Seven’s popular Sing Sing Sing show, hosted by Australian rock icon Johnny O’Keefe, in April 1964.
She performed the songs Anyone Who Had A Heart and Everything’s Coming Up Roses, winning the top prize of a trip to the UK.
With a voice Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive described as ‘pure and powerful’, Newton-John was in demand and appearances on 7’s Sunnyside Up, ABC’s Teen Scene and a return to Sing Sing Sing followed.
Billed as ‘Lovely Livvy’, she filled in as hostess on Seven’s Happy Show over the summer of 1964–65 and then – against her Cambridge University-educated father Bryn’s wishes – Newton-John left school to follow her dream.
She appeared in the children’s movie Funny Things Happen Down Under, followed by the first of many appearances on ATV-0’s (later Channel 10) pop music program GO!!
Newton-John also signed a contract with Seven to appear on daytime variety show Time For Terry.
These productions also featured her boyfriend of the time, singer and actor Ian ‘Turps’ Turpie.
Her rush to success continued in May 1965, when Newton-John was the opening act on an episode of Boomeride, a new live music show on Channel Nine.
Given her experience over the previous 12 months, she already had a confidence seemingly beyond her years.
This was reflected in the risque song she was given to sing, with lyrics saying that though she was ’16 now … One of these days, when I grow up, I’m gonna make love to you’.
In early 1966, accompanied by her mother, Irene, Newton-John finally used her Sing Sing Sing prize, travelling by ship to England.
The unbridled early success she had achieved in Australia was not immediately replicated in the UK.
Her debut single, Till You Say You’ll be Mine, flopped, as did a singing duo with fellow Australian, Pat Carroll.
A Monkees-style pop group called Toomorrow then recruited her and she fronted them on a flop 1970 ‘space musical’ film and two singles.
Despite the tough times in England she never gave up and in 1971 things took a better turn when Cliff Richard hired her as a regular guest singer on his TV variety show.
With the help of Richard’s backing band The Shadows, Newton-John finally scored a hit single with a cover of Bob Dylan’s If Not for You.
Several more hits, including two albums, quickly followed, with an up-tempo take of the murder ballad Banks Of The Ohio, doing well in Australia as well as the UK.
Her 1973 song Let Me Be There was her key to success in the US, earning her a Grammy award for best female country vocal performance.
With a follow-up hit, I Honestly Love You, Newton-John won the female vocalist of the year trophy at the 1974 Country Music Association awards.
Getting her voice heard: Olivia pictured performing Everything’s Coming Up Roses on Sing Sing Sing, broadcast on April 19, 1964
Seen and heard: Pictured singing When I Grow Up, which featured risque lyrics, on Boomeride in 1965
Some of the biggest names in American country music were reportedly angered by an Australian pop singer having hits in a genre they regarded as their territory.
It made no difference, and Newton-John later said she had no idea there was a backlash.
‘I was travelling and touring, and I heard about it after, and heard that Dolly [Parton] and Loretta [Lynn] had backed me up, so I had great support,’ she said.
While some rock music magazines railed against her for not being ‘authentic’, others gave her a pass due to her looks.
Creem magazine asked it’s readers ‘What female singer would ya like most to sit in yr lap? ‘Connie Francis? (too old) Cher? (too bananas). Answer: Olivia!’
She won more awards, including another three Grammys, but by the late 1970s her sales were dropping.
Her big break in Grease came in 1978. She famously resisted the part, at first turning down producer Allan Carr because she thought she was too old for the role.
He won her over, and adapted the script to make the character an Australian ex-pat to accommodate her accent. When the movie was released, it was an international hit and she became a global sex symbol.
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 husband, Matt Lattanzi, to whom she was married between 1984 until 1995.
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.
Kind: Olivia’s touching final act of kindness has been revealed – after failing to sell her California ranch in 2019, Olivia transferred ownership of the Santa Barbara property to her husband John
Spreading kindness: In 2019, Olivia also sold off her 189-acre farm located in Dalwood, New South for $6.6million. The beloved star initially purchased the land in the 1980s and rebuilt the home in the early 2000s
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.
The Australian High Commission to the UK posted a photo of Newton-John by the Sydney Harbor bridge.
‘We are terribly saddened by the passing of Dame Olivia Newton-John AC DBE,’ they tweeted.
‘British born and Australian raised, Dame Olivia inspired us in song and brought us together as one. We remember her with our British friends, and send our deepest condolences to her loved ones.’
Patrick McDermott, 48, went on an overnight fishing trip with 22 other people on June 30, 2005, but vanished before it returned to dry land without anyone noticing.
For almost two decades afterwards, he was rumoured to be in hiding in Mexico, on the run from crushing debts.
But repeated manhunts by police, media and private detectives have never been able to find any conclusive proof, despite constant reports of him being spotted.
‘I don’t think I will ever really be at peace with it,’ Newton-John admitted.
Her family: Olivia (left) with her MI5 agent and Bletchley Park codebreaker father, Brinley, and sister Rona (right) in the late 1980s
‘I think there will always be a question mark.’
She hooked up with McDermott after her 1995 divorce from first husband Matt Lattanzi and began a nine-year on-off romance with the cameraman.
Newton-John was on a promotional tour in Australia when McDermott disappeared and it was another week after the fishing trip until it was noticed he had gone.
Crew on his fishing boat had found the American’s car keys, passport and wallet on board the boat and his car was found parked at the San Pedro marina in Los Angeles.
But still no-one realised he was missing until he failed to appear at a family event on July 6, with police finally called in on July 11.
By then though the trail had gone cold – and investigators turned up nothing.
McDermott had previously been briefly married and fathered a son, and a court had recently ordered him to pay $8000 in backdated child support.
Threads: Olivia’s father was far from the only exceptional character on Olivia’s family tree, with her relatives also including renowned physicist Dr Max Born (left), her grandfather, and his son, Gustav, (right) a leading pharmacologist
Celebrated: As if being related to two scientific geniuses was not enough, Olivia was also the third cousin of Ben Elton, the actor and comedian who helped write the legendary sitcom Blackadder
He had filed for bankruptcy with debts of more than $30,000, prompting speculation he’d faked his death to escape and start anew.
A Coast Guard inquiry admitted they ‘did not find any evidence of criminal action, suicide, accident or hoax in the disappearance of McDermott.’
A three-year probe into the ‘Freedom’ fishing boat found it didn’t carry out any head counts on the day of the trip, causing McDermott’s disappearance to go unnoticed.
Both probes concluded McDermott was likely lost at sea during the night.
But eye witnesses continued to report seeing him around Mexico, where he was said to be living on a yacht off the coast of Sayulita and Acapulco.
TV companies repeatedly sent teams of undercover film crews and private detective to hunt for him and set up sophisticated online website traps to trace him.
One investigator John Nazarian insisted in 2016: ‘It’s rumoured he was with a German national. I spoke to people there.
‘The girl he was travelling with was described as having a German accent.
‘To come up with the conclusion that he fell off the boat, and allegedly no-one saw him fall off the boat, is the most preposterous thing I’ve ever heard in my life.’
Baffling: The mysterious fate of Olivia Newton-John’s on-off lover Patrick McDermott haunted the singer in her later years after he disappeared without trace amid claims he faked his own death
Past love: Olivia (seen with daughter Chloe Lattanzi) hooked up with Patrick McDermott after her 1995 divorceand began a nine year on-off romance with the cameraman
All the manhunts proved fruitless though and McDermott remained elusive.
Photographs of a man and a woman said to be McDermott and his new lover in Mexico were published in 2017 by New Idea magazine.
But the claims were undone weeks later when a Canadian couple came forward to say they were the people in the photograph.
Olivia Newton-John put the tragedy behind her to get on with life, meeting future husband John Easterling and marrying him at an Inca ritual in Peru in 2008.
But the mystery continued to stalk her in the years that followed, although she had resigned herself to the fact McDermott was most probably dead.
‘He was lost at sea, and nobody really knows what happened,’ Newton-John told 60 Minutes in 2016.
‘It’s human to wonder. Because whenever you go through difficult times, there’s always those concerns.
Mystery: Patrick, 48, went on an overnight fishing trip with 22 other people on June 30, 2005, but vanished before the boat ‘Freedom’ returned to dry land without anyone noticing
Map: For almost two decades afterwards, he was rumoured to be in hiding in Mexico, on the run from crushing debts and said to be living on a yacht off the Mexican coast at Sayulita
‘Those are the things in life you have to accept and let go. Of course questions always come up and that’s human.
‘But you know, I live on.’
Another scandal was that Grease became a victim of ‘cancel culture’ as it’s star Olivia Newton-John battled cancer – but she was always had the best comeback to the haters who said it was ‘sexist’ and even ‘offensive’ to women.
Newtown-John said people needed to ‘relax a little bit and just enjoy things for what they are’.
‘It’s a fun movie that entertains people,’ she said.
However, students at Presbyterian Ladies’ College and Scotch College in Perth in November didn’t see it that way when they decided not to perform the musical because the girls deemed it to be anti-feminist.
The show was made famous by the movie version starring Newton-John and John Travolta in 1978
PLC principal Cate Begbie and Scotch College acting headmaster Peter Burt released a joint statement about their decision to cancel the musical.
‘A number of PLC students raised concerns whether the musical was appropriate in modern times,’ it read.
‘Scotch College listened respectfully to the girls’ concerns, and both schools agreed a different musical would be better suited for their joint production in 2022.’
Let’s get physical: Newton-John promoting her 1980 album. It was dedicated to her first husband Matt Lattanzi, right. The pair were married from 1984 until 1995
Sunrise reported the girls at PLC told teachers they felt Grease was ‘offensive, sexist and anti-feminist’ and refused to take part.
‘They can’t put on Mary Poppins because she disciplines the children. Sound of Music, you know, does it does it portray a blended family accurately?’ co-host Edwina Bartholomew asked on the program last year.
‘What are they deciding on?’ David Koch replied.
‘I don’t know, The Book of Mormon?’ Bartholomew joked.
Newton-John repeatedly defended the film in her recent interviews, saying people shouldn’t be taking it ‘too seriously’.
‘I think it’s kind of silly. I mean, this movie was made in the 1970s about the 1950s,’ she said.
‘It was a stage play, it’s a musical, it’s fun. It’s a fun movie musical, not to be taken so seriously.
‘We need to relax a little bit and just enjoy things for what they are. I didn’t see it like that at all, I think it’s a fun movie that entertains people.’
Grease was also aired on free-to-air TV in the UK earlier this year, with the showing attracting similarly angry responses from viewers.
Many viewers accused the film of being ‘misogynistic’, ‘rapey’ – and even encouraged ‘slut-shaming’.
Newton-John said during a 2020 interview she believed it actually conveyed a strong female character that was relevant in today’s society.
‘It’s a movie. It’s a story from the ’50s where things were different,’ she said of its criticism.
‘Everyone forgets that, at the end, he changes for her too. There’s nothing deep in there about the #MeToo movement.’
Originally posted 2022-08-09 12:05:40.