Vale: Olivia Newton-John

Legendary singer, actor, humanitarian and philanthropist Olivia Newton-John has died, aged 73.

Legendary singer, actor, humanitarian and philanthropist Olivia Newton-John has died, aged 73.

Family confirmed her death on social media accounts following her long battle with cancer.

“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,” they wrote.

“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. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the @onjfoundation

“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 – via John Easterling, husband, Olivia Newton-John.”

British born, she moved to Melbourne with family at the age of 6, becoming a regular on local shows including Time for Terry and HSV-7’s The Happy Show. She also appeared on The Go! Show where she met future duet partner, singer Pat Carroll, and future music producer, John Farrar. In 1965 she entered and won a talent contest on Sing, Sing, Sing. She was initially reluctant to use the prize she had won, a trip to Great Britain.

She would go on to international number one and ten top ten hits throughout a long career, amongst them early evergreen hits I Honestly Love You, Banks of the Ohio, If Not For You, Have You Never Been Mellow, Let Me Be There, If You Love Me (Let Me Know), Please Mr. Please, matched by later pop successes Physical, Xanadu, Magic, Make a Move on Me, Hopelessly Devoted to You and You’re the One that I Want with John Travolta.

She famously starred in Grease, alongside Travolta, with the role of Sandy rewritten to acommodate her Australian accent. It became a box office sensation and a timeless screen classic.

In a post to Instagram, Travolta said, “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. Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”

Other screen roles would include Xanadu, Two of a Kind, It’s My Party, Toomorrow, A Few Best Men and the telemovies A Mom for Christmas, A Christmas Romance, The Wilde Girls, Sharknado (with daughter Chloe Lattanzi), The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee.

She had guest roles in The Man from Snowy River, Ned and Stacey, Tracey Takes On, Murphy Brown, Bette, Glee and appeared in Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Dancing with the Stars, Royal Variety Performance, 2000 Sydney Olympics, Music for UNICEF Concert, Countdown, VFL Grand Final, hosted Saturday Night Live and represented the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest -coming fourth with Long Live Love.

There were duets and touring with other profile singers, notably Cliff Richard, Gene Kelly and John Farnham, together with Anthony Warlow as part of The Main Event. She had business dealings with friend Pat Farrar (formerly Pat Carroll) founding Koala Blue, but after initial success, it eventually declared bankruptcy and closed in 1992. She was also partial owner of the Gaia Retreat and Spa in Byron Bay, an animal rights campaigner, the subject of headlines following the disappearance of husband Patrick McDermott, and became an advocate for the use of medical cannabis.

She experienced a serious health scare when she was diagnosed with breast cancer; following a mastectomy, she became a high-profile spokesperson for cancer awareness, and established the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre at the Austin Hospital in Heidleberg, Victoria.

Amongst her numerous awards are Grammys, ARIA Hall of Fame, American Music Awards, Billboard Awards, Mo Awards, People’s Choice Awards, King of Pop Awards, Daytime Emmy, Red Cross Humanitarian Award, Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Environment Programme, National Trust: National Living Treasure, Officer of the Order of the British Empire, Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours.

Her death follows the tragic passing of another iconic voice, Judith Durham of The Seekers on Friday.


“Tonight, the stars will shine a little brighter and I am heartbroken! Livvy, as I call her, was one of those rare people who had a profound effect on the world and the people in it. Her purity was real, her passion for life was unwavering. A Grammy Award winning recording artist, an extraordinary wife, mother and humanitarian, Livs tireless work has changed millions of lives and her legacy will live on forever. To me, Liv is family. My heart is broken. There simply will never be another like her.” -lan ‘Molly’ Meldrum

“The Farnham family send love and sympathies to Olivia’s family. Behind that iconic smile was a tenacious fighter. A beautiful voice and a loyal friend. She will be greatly missed.”

“A force for good. A force of nature. Strong and kind. My mentor, my friends, my inspiration, someone who always guided me…she was always there for me. Family to me. I don’t have all the words I would like to say but I hope everyone will join in celebrating our beloved Olivia, her heart, soul, talent, courage, grace…I love you forever.” – Delta Goodrem.

“She shared her toughest moments with her audience and brought people on the journey with her … but there was never a sense of her giving up, regardless of everything that was thrown at her in life …” -John Foreman.

“Nobody was prepared for this. Everybody knew it was coming and Olivia’s health had been declining in recent times, but it’s still such a great shock,” Richard Wilkins said.

“I just literally had one of the highest endorphins that just happened out there, to being extremely sad by coming offstage and checking my phone. Both of these women (Olivia and Tina Arena) are women I’ve looked up to since I was a kid. I’m actually very sad about Olivia, to be honest.” – Vanessa Amorosi (having just performed at the Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony).






Source: ABC, news.com.au, Variety, Wikipedia, IMDb.

This post updates.

22 Responses

  1. i have been so devastated i simply could not read or write anything about this for 3 days. I’ve been a massive fan since the 80’s when i grew up with Xanadu. Saw it at the cinema & came home to rollerskating to the soundtrack in my cousins garage. Then discovered Grease and seen it at least 20 times over the years.

    But what i will always remember Olivia for the most is how much she gave to others with her Cancer & Wellness Centre at the Austin hospital in my home town of Melbourne. I know she personally went into visit patients even when battling her own cancer. And she continued to campaign to raise money & awareness for this cause. RIP Olivia, forever an Aussie angel.

  2. What a week and a bit, Archie Roach, Judith Durham and our Olivia, all a representation of different types of Australia in their unique way.

    Vale Olivia you took Australia to the world and got it ready to meet us, you cracked the window open a little bit to allow others like Paul Hogan to open it some more, you were and still are really a fine ambassador.

    I had a dream last night, Robbie Williams at the AFL Grand Final brought out Kylie and they paid a great tribute to you Olivia with a version of You’re The One That I Want, the clouds parted and the sun shone through, like it was a smile, a nod of approval from you.

  3. I’m just devastated to hear this news,It’s just so sad.Olivia Newton John was one of my idols growing up,She had a fantastic voice,a world class talent,but most if all she was just a beautiful natural person whom everyone loved.What a terrible loss for the entertainment industry.



  4. Just an absolute star. Australia’s greatest singer. Australia loved her, the world loved her. An incredible performer. A most beautiful voice. From a teenager on Australian TV the camera loved her, so it so no wonder American audiences accepted her and loved her too. Success never affected her. So genuine. Such a lovely person. An incredible human being. She will missed so much and how wonderful we have her wonderful voice and performances to remember her by.

  5. Lovely tribute thanks David. Sadly we knew this day was coming sooner rather than later but it’s still doesn’t make it any easier. RIP Olivia.

    1. yes i was only thinking a few weeks ago she had been very quiet lately & hoping maybe she was just busy. But was also painfully aware of the reality that she had battled this horrible disease for so many years & perhaps things were not going so well for her…

  6. Lovely tribute, David. Lots of great sentiments from some famous folk and from the commenters here too. A little bit of Australiana feels like it has vanished today, despite Olivia being British born; we have so felt she was ours! Her spirit, her music and her humanitarian contributions will live on. Forever.

  7. Very shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Olivia Newton-John. My thoughts are with her daughter Chloe, her partner John and all her family and friends at this difficult time. RIP Olivia.

  8. Such a sad loss. I only heard Grease song ‘You’re the one that I want’ on the radio over the weekend and instantly thought of her iconic scene with John Travolta, in the tight black spandex pants.

  9. So very sad.
    Australia’s sweetheart .
    Olivia always came across as such a beautiful person, loved by everyone.
    So many lovely tributes coming in.
    No doubt Rage will put together something special to honour her (and Judith Durham) on Friday night.
    I remember Molly adored ‘our Livvy’ – look forward to seeing some of his Coutdown interviews with her on Rage, including the one where she fell off her chair.

    1. The ABC already have a collection of interviews with Olivia from across her career on iView. I haven’t looked in any detail, but it may well be among those.

  10. A very sad day. Love you ONJ. I remember secretly loving her music as a young Aussie gay guy in the 80’s, what an icon! Such a beautiful, compassionate person. RIP Olivia, you’ll be greatly missed.

  11. What a life. RIP Olivia. She leaves such a fine legacy of work, including the wonderful cancer centre in Melbourne, which from all report this morning she was (rightly) so very proud of.

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