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Dame Olivia Newton-John, a star of Grease, passes away at age 73

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Dame Olivia Newton-John, a star of Grease, passes away at age 73
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Dame Olivia Newton-John has died, aged 73.

The Grease star, who famously played Sandy in the beloved musical opposite John Travolta, died earlier this morning.

Her husband, John Easterling, confirmed the news in a statement.

‘Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends,’ it read.

‘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.

Olivia’s most notable role came as Sandy in Grease, opposite John Travolta

Olivia’s most notable role came as Sandy in Grease, opposite John Travolta.

‘Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.’

In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations were made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund.

The statement concluded: ‘Olivia is survived by her husband John Easterling; daughter Chloe Lattanzi; sister Sarah Newton-John; brother Toby Newton-John; nieces and nephews Tottie, Fiona and Brett Goldsmith; Emerson, Charlie, Zac, Jeremy, Randall, and Pierz Newton-John; Jude Newton-Stock, Layla Lee; Kira and Tasha Edelstein; and Brin and Valerie Hall.’

Her cause of death has not yet been confirmed but the late actress was battling cancer before she died.

Travolta led tributes to the late icon on Instagram, sharing a throwback photo of his former co-star.

‘My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better,’ he wrote in the caption. ‘Your impact was incredible. I love you so much.

‘We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!’

Dame Olivia was born in England in 1948, but moved to Australia as a child.

She began a successful career in the spotlight soon after, releasing her first album in 1971, titled If Not For You.

The late star also impressed with singles including Banks Of Ohio, and covers of What Is Life, and Take Me Home, Country Road.

As well as tackling the charts, she also represented the UK in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Long Live Love.

She finished fourth in the competition but ultimately lost out to Abba, with their hit song Waterloo.

But it wasn’t until 1978 that she became a global star when she landed the role of a lifetime in the big screen adaptation of Grease.

She was cast as Sandy Olsson, Travolta’s holiday romance turned love interest when she transferred to Rydell High.

The musical – which also starred Michael Tucci, Stockard Channing, Didi Conn and Eddie Deezen – was an instant hit, transporting her to superstardom.

Thanks to the role, she landed a People’s Choice Award for favorite film actress, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actress in a musical.

Many of her songs from the movie also topped the charts, including You’re The One That I Want, Hopelessly Devoted To You and Summer Nights.

Following the success, Dame Olivia returned to her singing career and dropped Physical in 1981, which became her biggest hit and spent 10 weeks in the number one spot.

She also racked up acting credits in 1980 flick Xanadu, Two of a Kind and an episode of Glee, in 2010.

The star was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1979, before being made a Dame just two years ago.

Olivia was made a Dame in the 2020 honours list

Olivia was made a Dame in the 2020 honours list.

She led the New Year Honours list for 2020, thanks to her services to charity, cancer research and entertainment.

‘I am extremely excited, honoured and grateful beyond words to be included with such an esteemed group of women who have received this distinguished award before me,’ she told PA at the time.

‘As a girl born in Cambridge, I am very proud of my British ancestry and so appreciative to be recognised in this way by the United Kingdom.’

In her private life, Dame Olivia faced a series of health issues and was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992.

She has since experienced two recurrences of the condition – first in 2013 and then again in 2017, when it progressed to stage four and spread to her bones.

The musician, who became an advocate for breast cancer research, publicly discussed her belief in medicinal marijuana to help get her through her battle.

Speaking at the Wellness Walk and Research Run in Melbourne in 2019, she told the crowd that she had hoped to make that available for others, adding: ‘I hope to be able to soon offer that to everyone – that’s my dream.’

In a recent appearance on NBC’s Today Show, she heaped praise on husband Easterling for all the support he has provided through the years.

‘Right now I’m feeling pretty good,’ she told host Hoda Kotb. ‘I have my days, I have my pains.

‘But the cannabis that my husband grows for me has been such a huge part of my healing, and so I’m a very lucky person.’

Despite having battled cancer three times in her life, Dame Olivia insisted that she did not want to be told of her life expectancy.

‘I’m so lucky that I’ve been through this three times and I’m still here. I’m living with it,’ she said on 60 Minutes.

‘When you’re given a cancer diagnosis or a scary illness diagnosis, you are suddenly given a possibility of a time limit.

‘The truth is, you could get hit by a truck tomorrow, you don’t know so every day is a gift, particularly now.

‘If you believe the statistics, you’re going to make them happen. If somebody tells you, “you have six months to live”, very possibly you will – because you believe that.’

Dame Olivia is survived by her husband as well as her daughter Chloe Lattanzi.


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