Olivia Newton-John starred opposite John Travolta in Grease in 1978. Credit: Rights Managed/Mary Evans
Her acting career took off in 1978, when the world fell in love with her as the sweet Sandy Olsson in the movie musical Grease alongside John Travolta, and two years later she danced with screen legend Gene Kelly in Xanadu.
The singer kept her head high through the mysterious disappearance of her boyfriend of nine years, Patrick McDermott, who was thought to have drowned off the coast of California in 2005 until evidence emerged in 2009 suggesting he had faked his death and was hiding in Mexico.
Despite the tough breaks in her personal life, Newton-John always bounced back, turning tragedy into a positive force with charities and movements ranging from cancer research to the environment.
In 1991, Newton-John turned tragedy into a cause that would help others when her daughter, Chloe, lost her best friend, Colette Chuda, to cancer.
Newton-John helped form the Colette Chuda Environmental Fund in the United States, assisted with the foundation of Australia’s Planet Ark organisation in 1993 and served as Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Environment Programme.
She also actively supported Melbourne’s Austin Hospital in building the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre, and promoted the LIV-KIT device for breast cancer detection.
John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John performed together during the Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief concert in Sydney in 2020. Source: AAP / JOEL CARRETT
She received many honours including being appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (OA) in 2006.
That followed an Order of the British Empire (OBE) honour bestowed upon her by Queen Elizabeth II in 1979.
In 2012, the National Trust of Australia named her a National Living Treasure.
The Australian entertainer is survived by her her husband John Easterling, and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi. Source: AAP / DAVID CROSLING
One of Newton-John’s latest awards came in 2006 at the G’day LA Ball in Hollywood, where she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Travolta.
Travolta said he admired how Newton-John had survived the ups and downs in her life.
“We’ve been friends for 28 or 29 years and we have always been there for each other no matter what, thick or thin,” Travolta said.
In May 2017 the singer announced she was cancelling a tour due to the recurrence of her breast cancer, which had metastasised to her back and would be undergoing treatment at the cancer centre named after herself in Melbourne.
Newton-John married twice, first in 1984 to actor Matt Lattanzi after they met on the set of Xanadu.
The couple divorced in 1995, and in 2008 Newton-John secretly wed John Easterling, the founder of natural remedy firm Amazon Herb Company.
She is survived by Mr Easterling and her daughter, singer and actress Chloe Lattanzi.