Legendary Australian singer and actress Olivia Newton-John has tragically passed away after a long battle with cancer.
The 73-year-old reportedly died in the early hours of this morning (Australian time) peacefully at her ranch in Southern California.
Her husband John Easterling, confirmed the news in a post to social media, saying that Olivia was “a symbol of triumps and hope”.
Olivia also leaves behind her 34-year-old daughter Chloe Lattanzi.
“Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time,” Olivia’s husband wrote.
“Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer.
“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.”
Newton-John has had a long battle with cancer, having first been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. After aggressive chemotherapy, Olivia was cleared of the disease less than a year later.
But tests in July 2017 revealed Olivia had a metastasised cancer tumour growing at the base of her spine.
Since then, she experienced ups and downs as she battled the disease.
In December 2017, Olivia told Closer that she was not in pain and working again.
“Being on the road with my band has been healing for me,” she said at the time.
But the former Grease star admitted it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“Of course, it was scary… But the words that came to my mind were ‘This too shall pass!’ I just had to believe that I was going to be OK.”
Speaking to Australian Women’s Weekly earlier this year in one of her final interviews, the beloved performer revealed that she was trying to heal as naturally as possible.
“I don’t take any pills, last year I did a course of photon radiation which is very targeted to the problem area,” she explained at the time.
“The clinic in Georgia suggested the radiation as a safety measure because, in the bone, it’s hard to get to. Since then I’ve only done natural healing – plant medicine and herbs.”
In December 2018, Olivia’s daughter Chloe penned a beautiful tribute to her sick mother, saying that her mum’s cancer battle didn’t seem fair.
“I felt like my whole world was collapsing in on me. After going through a denial phase, I was angry that such a wonderful, kind, amazing, generous woman had to go through hell again,” she wrote in Woman’s Day
Chloe continued: “But my mum has taught me the power of positive thinking and enjoying every moment. We both try to protect each other. Mum stays positive and I do my best to stay positive, too.”
Fans have also taken to social media to write their own tributes to Newton-John, who shot to stardom after playing Sandy in legendary 1970s musical Grease
As we mourn the loss of one of Australia’s most beloved stars, we also reflect on the colourful life of Olivia, which was filled with incredible highs and tragic lows.
Newton-John, the youngest of three-children, was originally born in England in 1948. She and her family relocated to Melbourne when she was just six.
Even then it was clear that Olivia had a magical future ahead.
At 14, Olivia formed her very own girl group, while she also dabbled in TV appearances including that of Go Show, where she met Pat Carroll and John Farrar.
Pat went on to become Olivia’s duet partner and John their music producer.
Her career really started taking off when she appeared on talent show Sing, Sing, Sing, where she won a trip to the UK.
There she found some success, releasing her first solo album, If Not For You, in 1971.
But it wasn’t until 1974 that Olivia was really put on the world stage. The singer was in her mid-twenties when she entered the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the UK.
Singing Long Live Love, the up-and-comer came in at an impressive fourth place.
Later that year she released hit single I Honestly Love You, and also received two Grammys, a Billboard award, and was named CMA’s female singer of the year.
Safe to say it was a big year for her!
But it was Grease that really set her stardom in concrete.
In 1978, Olivia made the musical with John Travolta. And while the film would prove to be one of the world’s most prolific films of all time, Olivia actually had some reservations.
“I was very nervous about making the film, because I was an Australian, but they said, ‘That’s OK, you can do an Australian accent,'” she told The Telegraph.
“I worried that at 29 I was too old to play a high-school girl. But John was charming and really wanted me to do it, and that was one of the deciding factors.”
And it was lucky he did – the soundtrack spent 12 weeks on the top of the charts, as well as earning Olivia a Golden Globe Best Actress nomination and an Oscar nod for the soundtrack.
Following the success of the film, Olivia’s ‘girl-next-door’ image was shed as she released some raunchy hits including A Little More Love and Deeper Than the Night.
With new music material also came a new wardrobe for the Aussie songstress, whose risque outfits sparked her new image as an international sex symbol.
WATCH: Olivia Newton John is interviewed in 1980. Post continues…
While many of Olivia’s career highlights occured in the 1970s and 1980s, Olivia had a number of other successful stints in the music industry.
In 1998, her album Back with a Heart returned her to the Top 10 of the Country Charts.
In 2002, Newton-John was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and in the years since, has made a number of television appearances, including the comedy, A Few Best Men.
In 2018, a television biopic about Olivia Newton-John aired on Australian screens, to very mixed reviews.
In fact, even Olivia herself said she wasn’t keen to watch it.
“I probably won’t watch it. When they told me they were doing it, I was horrified, because despite the fact I’m well known, I’m kind of private,” she told Australian Women’s Weekly.
All the same, Aussie singer Delta Goodrem, who is a close pal of Olivia received her blessing to play the lead role.
“I love Delta. I think she’s a really good actress and a great singer so that made it okay, because we’re friends. In the beginning, she called me and asked, ‘Shall I do it or not?’ First I said, ‘I’m not sure,’ and then I said, ‘Oh, you do it’,” said Olivia.
Speaking to Sunday Night in a candid interview earlier this year, Delta broke down as she discussed Olivia’s illness.
“When I look at her… I find it so hard because it’s quite personal actually,” admitted Delta while fighting back the tears.
She later released a statement in a press release: “Olivia influenced my earliest years as an evolving artist and became the backbone of influence to living my life and heart as a proud Australian artist,” the actress explained.
“I aspired to have her grace, humility and talent from the time I started singing.”
She added: “She is an icon. I am deeply humbled to play my idol and friend.”
Olivia had several relationships that garnered worldwide attention.
In December 1984, Olivia married her boyfriend of four years, Matt Lattanzi.
The pair, who met on the set of Xanadu, had a daughter Chloe Lattanzi together.
Matt and Olivia divorced in 1995, and Chloe has remained the singer’s only child.
Then, a year after her divorce, Olivia met cameraman Patrick McDermott.
After an on-again off-again relationship that lasted for nine years, Patrick mysteriously disappeared after attending a fishing trip off the Californian coast.
Since then, varied reports have claimed he is in fact still alive and well, with some alleging he could have faked his own death after filing for bankruptcy.
While the case still remains a mystery, Olivia shared her thoughts on the matter in a telling 60 Minutes interview in 2016.
“Nobody really knows what happened,” she said.
“Of course, it’s human to wonder. But you know… those are the things in life you have to accept and let go.”
WATCH: Olivia Newton-John’s 60 Minutes interview. Post continues…
In 2008, Olivia married her second husband John Easterling, who she remained married to until her passing in 2018.
John, who is known as ‘Amazon John’ for his founding of an Amazonian herb company, is an American businessman, environmentalist and CEO.
Interestingly, the pair celebrated two different marriage ceremonies in 2008, and didn’t tell their friends about it until a July 4th party.
In an interview with People magazine, Olivia said John had helped her move on from the disappearance of Patrick.
“He’s incredibly smart and compassionate. He says yes to everything, he says yes to life.”
Her daughter’s struggles
While it’s abundantly clear that Olivia and her daughter are extremely close, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Chloe, who has battled addiction and eating disorders in the past.
Speaking about her struggles to Access Hollywood, Chloe said: “I just wasn’t enough, simply put. No matter what I did I just wasn’t enough. If I was 82 pounds I didn’t think I was fat, I just thought I looked normal.”
In 2013, Chloe was also treated for alcohol and cocaine addiction: “I was using most days and nights. And not only was I doing coke, I was drinking vodka heavily also. I had to combine the two,” however the aspiring singer now seems much healthier.
Following her mum’s cancer diagnosis, Chloe vowed to take a break from social media after trolls accused of her being “too happy.”
“I don’t want my life to be public and this the greatest struggle a daughter could go through. And the last thing I need is someone telling me that I can’t distract myself and post normal creative pics on my Instagram.”
Battles with cancer
Olivia was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, and the news came as a big shock to Olivia’s family at the time.
Speaking of the ordeal to Woman’s Day, Chloe revealed her mum had originally tried to keep it a secret.
“We moved to Australia when she was in recovery and one of the kids at school ran up to me and said, ‘Your mum has cancer and she is dying, haha.'”
Chloe continued: “It was awful. I went home in tears and confronted my mum and said: ‘Why didn’t you tell me, I could have taken care of you?'”
Following eight months of chemotherapy, Olivia was cleared of the disease.
But in May 2017, tests revealed the cancer was back, with a tumour growing at the base of her spine.
Speaking to Australian Women’s Weekly, Olivia said she tried her best not to panic.
“We thought, it’s stage four breast cancer, nothing to freak out about. We know what to do. We’ll just take care of it. So we went to this wonderful clinic in Georgia that has special ways of monitoring the system and does a variety of IVs with herbs and minerals that get extraordinary results.”
She said her pain levels significantly dropped within days, and from there, Olivia used only “limited” conventional therapies.
“I don’t take any pills… last year I did a course of photon radiation which is very targeted to the problem area. The clinic in Georgia suggested the radiation as a safety measure because, in the bone, it’s hard to get to. Since then I’ve only done natural healing – plant medicine and herbs,” she said.
WATCH: Olivia Newton John opens up about her cancer. Post continues…
With cannabis and cannabis oils legal in California, Olivia said it had helped her a lot.
“It’s crazy, isn’t it?” Olivia said.
“It’s helped me a lot and should be available for patients, particularly those going into palliative care.”
And while the cancer has tragically taken the talented starlet’s life, Olivia stayed true to herself right through to the very end.
In fact, she previously said that she doesn’t like the words “my cancer”.
“It’s the cancer. You don’t own it. I don’t like it when they talk about fighting cancer because that sets up a war in your body, which can cause inflammation, and that is the very thing you’re trying to settle down” she said.
“I use the words ‘winning over’ and ‘living with’ because there comes a point where you can’t get rid of every cancer cell in your body.”
She continued to explain: “Everybody is dealing with them all the time. Some people don’t even know they’ve got it. It’s a normal part of the cycle. Cells are programmed to die. Cancer cells, too.”
And with that said, we can only express complete admiration for Olivia, who was strong, self-aware and a fighter till the very end.
She will be sorely missed by many, and her incredible work and legacy will live on for years to come.
We’re supporting the Olivia Newton-John Foundation by giving them 100% of the profits from the sales of this fabulous ONJ tribute tee. Get yours here.