Vale: Olivia Newton-John, legendary singer and actor

Olivia Newton-John. (Image: Eva Rinaldi)

The global music and film industries are collectively mourning the loss of iconic singer and actor Olivia Newton-John, following her death aged 73.

Her husband John Easterling confirmed the news with a post on her social media accounts this morning, in which he wrote that his wife had “passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends”.

“Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” the post read.

“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.”

Born in Cambridge in 1948, Newton-John relocated to Australia when she was five.

She would have the opportunity to return to England after winning a talent contest on the television show Sing, Sing, Sing, before going on to be part of the all-girl group Sol 4.

It was while in London that she teamed up with her friend from Melbourne, Pat Carroll, to create a double act, Pat & Olivia, with the duo toured army bases and clubs throughout the UK and Europe.

Newton-John cut her first single for Decca Records in 1966, a version of Jackie DeShannon’s Till You Say You’ll Be Mine, and in 1971, she recorded a cover of Bob Dylan’s If Not For You co-produced by Bruce Welch and John Farrar, whom she continued to collaborate with.

Her US album debut, Let Me Be There produced her first top ten single of the same name, beginning a recording career that would encompass 100 million albums sold, four Grammy Awards, numerous Country Music, American Music, and Peoples Choice Awards, ten number one hits including Physical, and more than 15 top 10 singles.

The versatile performer reached a new level of stardom in the late ’70s after appearing opposite John Travolta in Grease, a role which would earn her Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical of Comedy. To date, Grease remains the most successful movie musical in history.

Her other feature film credits include Funny Things Happen Down Under, Toomorrow, Xanadu, Two Of A Kind, It’s My Party, Sordid Lives, Score: A Hockey Musical, and A Few Best Men.

She received an OBE in 1979, and in 2019 was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Newton-John is also well known for her advocacy in relation to cancer awareness. Having overcome her first journey with breast cancer in ’90s, she would speak openly about her personal journey and eventually help establish Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre (ONJCWC) with Austin Health. In 2017, she revealed she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.

She is survived by her her husband John Easterling and daughter Chloe Lattanzi.