The world lost a beloved music legend this week. On Monday, August 8, 2022, Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away at her home in Southern California at the age of 73. Famous for her role as Sandy Olsson in the 1978 musical Grease, the four-time Grammy winner had been battling breast cancer for 30 years since her initial diagnosis in the 1990s.
“Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” her husband, John Easterling wrote. “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 spite of her condition, Newton-John continued to live her life to the fullest, spreading positivity wherever she went. In 2017, she revealed that her cancer had metastasized to her spine, but even that didn't slow her down completely. Before her daughter's wedding last year, she said, “I'm so lucky to be doing all of these things. I don't think I imagined living this long! I feel very blessed.”
Born in Cambridge, England in 1948, Newton-John's family moved to Australia when she was 5 years old. There, her musical talent was quickly noticed and she performed on local TV shows. Eventually, she moved back to the UK, finding success in her two albums, If Not For You and Olivia, and earning her first Grammy for the 1973 song, “Let Me Be There.” One year later, she won two more Grammys for her hit, “I Honestly Love You.”
In 1978, Newton-John found her first big acting role in the musical Grease. Despite her little acting experience, she shined on screen alongside American actor John Travolta; together, they sang the iconic duets “You're the One That I Want” and “Summer Nights.” After Grease, she went on to star in the movie Xanadu and continued to create music, exploring different genres in the process. Her most successful album, Physical was released in 1981.
Over the course of her career, Newton-John sold 100 million records and won four Grammy Awards. Not only was she a musical sensation that will live on through her many songs, but she was also a warm person that spent years advocating for cancer patients. Rest in peace, Olivia Newton-John.