Pop icon Olivia Newton-John leaves behind a legacy of kindness and inspiration
Her legend will not soon be forgotten.
Dame Olivia Newton-John, top female vocalist of the 1970s, who remained a beloved artist well after her leap to stardom, has “passed away peacefully” at 73 years old. Though her cause of death was not given, in 2018 the singer received her third cancer diagnosis, CNN reported.
Besides her wholesome beauty, charming persona and angelic vocals, the multiple Grammy awarding winning Australian pop star became equally well known for her advocacy for health and wellness.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, the same weekend she lost her father to cancer, Newton-John founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre (ONJ Centre) as a “positive healing center to support people on their cancer journey.” She also used her memoir, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” to share some of her own battles with the disease.On her official Instagram page, Newton-John’s husband, John Easterling, paid loving tribute to his wife for being a “symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” adding that “her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.”
the soothing benefits of medical cannabis and worked toward legalizing the plant in Australia.
Newton-John leaves behind a legacy of artistic hits, the most iconic being her role of Sandy in the 1978 hit film “Grease.” One of the movie’s most famous songs, “Hopelessly Devoted” (sung beautifully by Newton-John and earning her an Academy Award nomination), mirrors the enduring devotion that fans still have for it years later. In January 2016, a live televised remake of the musical was created starring Julianne Hough in the role of Sandra Dee.
John Travolta, Newton-John’s co-star, wrote on social media: “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 moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”
“Grease” received backlash among viewers after being aired on the BBC in 2021, with some even calling for an all-out ban of the movie. This was primarily in response to a well-known scene where Danny Zuko (Travolta) repeatedly tries to make a move on Sandy, but critics accused the story of being homophobic and sexist.
In a podcast episode of “A Life of Greatness,” the actress called the backlash "kind of silly, because the movie was made in the '70s about the '50s. It was a stage play. It's a musical. It's fun.
"We need to relax a little bit and just enjoy things for what they are," she added. "I think it's just a fun movie that entertains people. That's all."
Newton-John was also a sex-positive icon in her own right. Following the success of “Grease,” where her buttoned-up Sandy becomes a sex-liberated teenager, she released the song “Physical,” which was banned for its suggestive lyrics before spending 10 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
She also starred in the fantasy musical “Xanadu,” a hugely popular film in the LGBTQ community. In an interview with LogoTV, she joked that she “gets a kick” out of knowing the movie is being shown in gay bars.
Olivia Newton-John was the epitome of a class-act. Despite her celebrity status, she was open, honest and—above all— compassionate. According to People, her activism included serving as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, becoming the national spokesperson for the Children's Health Environmental Coalition and working with the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research.
Through tireless contributions, undeniable talent and an effortlessly approachable personality, she carved a spot into countless hearts and she will not soon be forgotten.