‘Grease’ star Olivia Newton-John dies aged 73

Singer Olivia Newton-John, who gained worldwide fame as the high school sweetheart Sandy in the hit movie “Grease”, died on Monday after a 30-year battle with cancer. She was 73.

Newton-John “passed away peacefully at her ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” said a statement from her husband John Easterling posted on her official social media accounts.

The British-born and Australian-raised star dedicated a number of albums and concerts to raise funds for research and early detection of the disease, including the construction of a health centre named after her in her adopted home Melbourne. 

“I like to say ‘win over’, because ‘battled’ sets up this anger and inflammation that you don’t want.”

Newton-John is best-known for starring in the 1978 musical “Grease” alongside John Travolta, as the-girl-next-door Sandy, who trades her ankle-length skirt and prim and proper hair for skin-tight black pants and a perm.

“Making it was fun but you never know with movies if audiences are going to go with it or not, even if you love it,” she said in a Forbes interview in 2018. 

Grease remained the highest-grossing musical for three decades, with Newton-John and Travolta maintaining a close relationship long after the film was made.

There was no one else “in the universe” who could play Sandy, he said of Newton-John, who turned 29 during the making of Grease and later revealed she had to be convinced by Travolta to take up the role after self-doubts that she was too old to play a teenager. 

“Every boy’s, every man’s dream was: ‘oh I would love for that girl to be my girlfriend’.”

She performed into her late 60s, until her latest diagnosis, including a two-year residency in Vegas, a 2015 tour with Australian music legend John Farnham and even recording a Club Dance track at 67 with her daughter Chloe Lattanzi.

“So I feel grateful for anything that happens now.”

Originally published as ‘Grease’ star Olivia Newton-John dies aged 73


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