Australian actress and singer Olivia Newton-John, star of the movie “Grease,” has died at the age of 73, her husband announced in a statement posted on social media Monday.
The actress, who also had British nationality, “passed peacefully away at her farm in Southern California this morning, surrounded by her family and friends,” John Easterling said in the press release. She had been battling breast cancer for 30 years.
Hair spray and leather jackets, Olivia Newton-John made herself world famous playing Sandy in the cult musical Grease, alongside John Travolta.
“My dear Olivia, you have made our lives better. Your influence has been incredible. I love you very much”, answered the actor of “Pulp Fiction”.
Since cancer struck her in her forties – breast cancer and a mastectomy in 1992, then two recurrences in 2013 and 2017, with metastases – the star put all her energy and fame into the service of the fight against the disease.
“Olivia has been a beacon of triumph and hope for 30 years sharing her breast cancer experience,” her husband wrote, noting that a fund in his name had been set up to fund plant research. Medicines and Cancer, Olivia Newton -John Foundation Fund.
“She was and always will be an inspiration to me in so many different ways,” Australian singer Kylie Minogue wrote on Monday.
– “You are the one I love” –
Born on September 26, 1948 in Cambridge in the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II titled “Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire” is the granddaughter of German physicist Max Born, whose work on theoretical quanta was crowned with the Nobel Prize.
His father fought in the British forces during World War II, taking part in the arrest of Rudolf Hess.
“Livvy”, as she is called, was only five years old when her family moved to the Antipodes. Destination Melbourne, Australia.
Passionate about music, she won a local singing competition at the age of 16. Her mother encourages her to use her talent and the two return to England.
The first singles, the first successes. In 1974, “I Really Love You” was his first US number one hit. That same year, she represented Great Britain at Eurovision and finished fourth, bowing out to… Abba.
Then it’s off to California, where she made a name for herself on the country and western scene. The Anglo-Australian has even twice been crowned “the most popular singer in the United States” and won a Grammy award against Queen Dolly Parton.
John Travolta, fresh off his success in “Saturday Night Fever,” floats his name for “Grease.”
Released in 1978, the film was an instant hit worldwide. In France, there are 6 million admissions… More than “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort” or “West Side Story”! Everyone hums “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One I Love.”
– “Physical” –
And its ending becomes a myth, with the metamorphosis of Sandy, the blonde and wisecracking high school student, into a femme fatale who appears in the middle of the fair, cigarette in mouth, black motorcycle jacket, off-the-shoulder top, tight lamé. pants and dizzying heels… With a frenetic pace, she swings and electrifies Danny (John Travolta), the rebel with the polished banana.
The original dress sold in 2019 at auction for… $405,700.
Despite this global success, Olivia Newton-John did not continue her momentum in the cinema for long.
She shoots with Gene Kelly another musical romance, “Xanadu”, and a new film with John Travolta, “Two of a kind”, but the magic works less.
Apart from a few roles in film and television, she devoted herself mainly to singing and her farm in California, where she lived surrounded by animals.
She released nearly forty country and pop rock albums—including “Physical,” a huge hit in 1981—and performed hundreds of concerts around the world.
In her fight against cancer, she had created the Olivia Newton-John Foundation, closely followed the progress of research, multiplied fundraising and was interested in alternative treatments.
“I am lucky to be married to a wonderful man who is very knowledgeable about medicinal plants. He grows me medicinal cannabis,” she said in February 2021 in People magazine.
© Agence France-Presse