Pop Singer And "Grease" Star Olivia Newton-John Dies At Age 73
She collected No. 1 singles, albums that debuted at the top of the charts, and four recordings that each sold over two million copies. She was likeable, even liked, beyond everything else.
Olivia Newton-John, who performed some of the biggest hits of the 1970s and 1980s while transforming herself from the virginal girl next door into a spandex-clad vixen, passed away on Monday at her ranch in Southern California.
Her transformation was mirrored in miniature, one of the most well-known movie musicals of its time, pop singer and "Grease" Star Olivia Newton-John dies at age 73.
Her husband John Easterling made the announcement of her passing, but he did not provide a cause of death.
Instead, he mentioned the 1992 breast cancer diagnosis she had been living with. She revealed that the disease has expanded and resurfaced in 2017.
She established a foundation in her name to assist cancer research and launched a research and wellness center in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia, during the years she was a well-known supporter of the field.
She was born in England and raised in Australia. Ms. Newton-John accumulated No. 1 singles, albums that debuted at the top of the charts, and four LPs that each sold more than two million copies.
She was likeable, even liked, beyond everything else. Early in her career, Olivia Newton-John charmed listeners with a high, supple, vibrato-warmed voice that harmonized well with the romantic middle-of-the-road pop that frequently passed for country music in the mid-1970s.
That blurring was made evident by her chart success. On the country chart of Billboard, she recorded seven Top 10 singles, two of which peaked at No. 1 overall in 1974 and 1975.
Peter Allen and Jeff Barry's "I Honestly Love You" was the first song, and it was followed by "Have You Never Been Mellow," a delicate tune written by John Farrar, the producer of many of her best albums.
By the late 1970s, Newton-John was a well-known performer due to a succession of successful country and soft-rock songs.
She rose to a new level of fame because to her co-starring role with John Travolta in "Grease," possibly the most well-known musical film of all time, in 1978.
Newton-portrayal John's as Sandy, a sweet-natured Australian transfer student who romances Travolta's alpha greaser Danny in a Southern California high school in the 1950s, was unforgettable despite her lack of acting experience and the fact that she turned 29 during production.
Their on-screen chemistry as mismatched lovers who transform in the film's last act to win each other's hearts he trades in his flowery skirts for heels, leather, spandex, and a cigarette anchored the story and encouraged throngs of fans to watch it again and again.
Newton-John told CNN in 2017: "I don't believe anyone could have anticipated a movie would carry on for over 40 years and would still be famous and people would still be coming to me about it all the time and appreciating it."
"One of those flicks, that's all. I'm quite fortunate to have taken part in it. So many people have enjoyed it."
The duets "You're The One That I Want" and "Summer Nights" with Travolta, as well as her sultry solo ballad "Hopelessly Devoted To You," featured Newton-John on three of the movie's biggest hits.
Newton-John, who was born in 1948 in Cambridge, England, relocated to Melbourne, Australia, with her family when she was five years old.
In her adolescent years, she founded an all-girl combo and started performing on regular pop music shows in Australia after winning a talent competition on the TV program "Sing, Sing, Sing."
Before 1973, when "Let Me Be There" reached the top 10 on both the adult contemporary and the country charts, Newton-John was completely unknown to US listeners.
She had recorded her debut single in England in 1966 and had a few overseas singles. The songs "Have You Never Been Mellow," "Please Mr. Please," and "I Honestly Love You" were among a string of No. 1 easy-listening singles that came after.
Then followed "Grease," the highest-grossing film of 1978, which went on to become an enduring cultural phenomenon. The film offered Newton-John the chance to shed her spotless reputation.
Her subsequent album, "Totally Hot," had an edgier, more modern pop sound, and the vocalist was depicted on the record cover wearing black leather.
With "Physical," a dance song with provocative lyrics like "There's nothing left to speak about until it's horizontally," she developed her new, hotter character even further in 1981.
It was her biggest success and spent 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 despite being banned by some radio stations.
Additionally, she had appearances in a number of other high-profile films, such as the musical fantasy "Xanadu," which starred the late Gene Kelly. The movie flopped, but its music did well and gave rise to the No. 1 single "Magic."
She reunited with Travolta in 1983 for the romantic comedy-fantasy "Two of a Kind," but the two's "Grease" chemistry was lost in the film.
Over the course of a long career, Newton-John sold more than 100 million records and received four Grammy Awards.
"I've lived a lot of musical lives. I began with country music before transitioning to mainstream "She spoke to CNN.
"I had a lot of tunes in between "Xanadu" and "Grease." I'm incredibly appreciative. I have so many options in my repertory."
However, Newton-John experienced her fair share of hardships and tragedies. After being told she had breast cancer, she was forced to reschedule and cancel many tours.
And in 2005, Patrick McDermott, Newton-then-boyfriend, John's vanished at sea while out fishing off the coast of California.
He was never discovered, and the singer spent years struggling with this unanswered mystery.
In 2006, she said to CNN's Larry King that "it's really hard to live with it." "I've been through a lot of things, and this is perhaps the hardest thing I've ever gone through."
Newton-John never ceased recording and performing, even if her career profile dwindled in her final years.
Some of her career high points included guest spots on "Glee," a lengthy "Summer Nights" engagement at the Flamingo Las Vegas, and a dance club smash called "You Have to Believe," which she co-wrote with daughter Chloe.
In 2017, she told CNN, "I love to sing, it's all I know how to do." "It's my life; that's all I've ever done since I was 15 years old. I'm quite appreciative that I can still do it and that people continue to visit me."
Ms. Newton-John was adamant about her music's audience-friendliness all the way to the end. She told Rolling Stone, "I hate it when people assume that just because something is commercial, it must be horrible. "It's quite the reverse. If people enjoy it, that is how it should be.