Australian icon Olivia Newton-John tragically passed away on August 8, 2022, leaving behind an incredible legacy in both film and philanthropy.
The Grease star sadly lost her over 30-year battle with breast cancer aged 73, with the star continuing to be a prominent advocate for cancer research throughout the later years of her life.
As we reflect on the year that has passed since Olivia passed away, look back at some of the Australian star’s best moments from her incredible life.
Olivia’s Early Life
Olivia Newton John was born in England on the 26th of September 1948 to parents Irene and Brinley Newton-John.
She was the youngest of three children, along with brother Hugh and sister Rona.
When Olivia was six, the Newton-John family relocated from the UK to Melbourne in 1954.
It was clear from a young age that Olivia was destined for something magical.
At 14, she formed her very own girl group and dabbled in TV.
It was during her time on Go Show that Olivia met Pat Carroll and John Farrar. Pat would go on to become Olivia’s duet partner and John their music producer.
Her journey really began when she came first on Sing, Sing, Sing – a talent show hosted by the legendary Johnny O’Keefe.
Olivia’s prize was a trip to the UK – which surprisingly she didn’t want, but her mum encouraged her to take a chance.
The aspiring songstress found moderate success in the UK and America after she released her first solo album, If Not For You, in 1971.
FUN FACT: Olivia’s third cousin is British-Australian author Ben Elton.
Olivia Enters Eurovision
In 1974, Olivia was put on the world’s map when she entered the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the UK.
Olivia sang Long Live Love and her ballad saw her come fourth.
FUN FACT: The Eurovision Song Contest’s 1974 winners were Sweden’s entrant ABBA. The Swedish dance icons sang Waterloo.
Despite not winning the song contest, 1974 was a huge year for Olivia.
She released a new album with the single I Honestly Love You, which would soon become her signature song.
The year also saw her receive a bucket of musical wins including two Grammys, a Billboard award, and she was CMA’s female singer of the year.
FUN FACT: In 1979, Olivia received the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) medal from Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.
Olivia’s Groundbreaking Role in Grease
Olivia’s star power truly is something to behold.
Showing no signs of slowing down, everything changed dramatically in 1978 when she starred alongside John Travolta in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Grease.
Becoming the year’s biggest movie, it unsurprisingly made the duo into Hollywood mega stars.
The soundtrack spent 12 weeks on the top of the charts, and it gave Olivia three top five singles:
You’re The One That I Want with John Travolta
Hopelessly Devoted to You
Summer Nights with John Travolta and the film’s cast
Olivia’s role in the film earned her a Golden Globe Best Actress nomination and an Oscar nod for the soundtrack.
Olivia Sheds her Girl Next Door Image
Taking inspiration from Sandy’s transformation from good girl to bad, Olivia was inspired to vamp up her image.
That meant a brand-new look, including a whole lot of spandex and some very raunchy hits including A Little More Love and Deeper Than the Night.
But the song that redefined Olivia was the double platinum single Physical.
She also became a pioneer for lively videos clips with her unforgettable aerobics-themed clip being banned in some countries.
Olivia Newton-John’s Relationship History
In December 1984, Olivia married her boyfriend of four years Matt Lattanzi.
The couple met on the set of Xanadu and share one child – 32-year-old daughter Chloe Lattanzi.
Slightly short of a decade, the pair divorced in 1995.
A year after her divorce, Olivia met gaffer and cameraman Patrick McDermott.
The pair had an on-off relationship for nine years, up until he mysteriously disappeared in 2005 after a fishing trip off the coast of California.
Ever since 2010, there have been multiple claims that Patrick is alive and well, living in Mexico under his birth name Pat Kim.
Olivia married her second husband John Easterling in 2008.
The pair had met 15 years earlier, but things only took on a romantic nature in 2007.
After a whirlwind romance, the pair tied the knot and were happily married since.
John supported Olivia through her breast cancer journey and appeared to be her biggest supporter.
Chloe Lattanzi is Olivia Newton-John’s only child.
The mother-daughter duo shared a close relationship and Olivia shared sweet snaps of them together on Instagram.
As well as posting photos with her daughter, Olivia regularly posted adorable throwbacks to Chloe’s childhood.
FUN FACT: In 2015 the ONJ and Chloe recorded You Have To Believe– a re-imaging of her 1980 single Magic from Xanadu.
Speaking about the track, which became the first mother-daughter single to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart, she said: “I met Chloe’s dad on the set of Xanadu, so, without that film, Chloe wouldn’t be here.
“She was the real ‘magic’ that came out of that film!”
Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Philanthropic Efforts
Olivia was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, just days after her own father had passed away from cancer.
Following eight months of chemotherapy and a partial mastectomy, Olivia was cleared of the disease.
Sadly, in May 2017, tests revealed that she had a metastasised cancer tumour growing at the base of her spine.
The shocking news rocked Olivia and her family.
In December 2019, the Aussie icon shared a very positive update on her condition.
“I am no longer in pain and happy to say I am working again,” she told Closer.
“When I get to sing the songs I love, it’s like a gift,” she revealed. “Being on the road with my band has been healing for me.”
“Of course, it was scary,” she admitted of being diagnosed with cancer again after successfully beating the illness 25 years ago.
“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.”
Following her diagnosis over 20 years ago, Olivia became a strong breast cancer advocate – regularly speaking out, encouraging women to get checked.
In 2008, she took her dream one step further, creating the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne.
Olivia’s thoughts on the Hopelessly Devoted To You mini-series
The biopic about Olivia, released in 2018, chronicled her debut on Sing Sing Sing, her musical and acting career, and her venture into the corporate world.
It starred Delta Goodrem as Olivia, but the real-life songstress wasn’t keen on the idea at first.
Olivia says she was initially “horrified” by the project, revealing: “I realised it was going to happen whether I wanted it to or not.”
“I love Delta. I think she’s a really good actress and a great singer so that made it okay, because we’re friends”, she told the Australian Women’s Weekly.
“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’.
“I haven’t read it and I don’t know how accurate it is because it’s a movie and people weren’t there at every moment of my life but the money will go to the hospital [the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in Melbourne] so some good has come of it.”
Despite her hesitations, Olivia chose to work with Delta to record music for the series’ soundtrack.
Olivia’s Life in Lockdown
When the coronavirus pandemic shut the world down, Olivia retreated to her farm in California.
Speaking to the Weekly in September, she opened up about her bonds with family and nature, and how they helped her through the dark days of the COVID crisis in the US.
“I was very afraid at the beginning,” she admits.
“I think we all were … It was a scary time for everyone because it was unknown.
“I was lucky to be living outside the city – I’m grateful for that – and in my own life, I’ve tried to turn this into something positive, because it’s given us all the opportunity to find out who we are, who the family is and get down to the really important things.”
She spent plenty of time with husband John and daughter Chloe during the pandemic, even helping Chloe plan her postponed wedding.
Olivia’s Lasting Legacy
Olivia Newton-John died peacefully at her ranch in Southern California on August 8, 2022 after a long battle with cancer.
Her husband John Easterling, confirmed the news in a post to social media, saying that Olivia was “a symbol of triumphs and hope”.
Speaking to Australian Women’s Weekly in early 2022, 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.”