Olivia Newton-John, best known for her role as Sandy in the 1978 film Grease, has died at the age of 73 after a 30-year battle with breast cancer.
Newton-John’s husband John Easterling shared the news in a post across her social media channels, saying she had died at home surrounded by her family and friends. He added, “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 was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. In 2013, a tumor was again found in her shoulder after a car accident. Four years later, the star announced that the breast cancer had spread to the base of her spine.
After that third diagnosis, the actress – who called herself a “cancer thriver” – pushed on, attending a 40-year anniversary celebration of Grease in 2018, recording new music, and watching her daughter get married in 2021.
Ahead of her daughter’s wedding, Newton-John said, “I’m so lucky to still be doing all these things. I don’t think I imagined living this long! I feel very blessed.”
She was born in Cambridge, England, in 1948, and her family moved to Melbourne, Australia, when she was five. In her teen years, she got the music bug and began performing songs on Australian television shows. Before too long, she was recording music, with some of her best known hits including “I Honestly Love You” and “Physical.”
She also graced the silver screen in many films, including Xanadu with Hollywood legend Gene Kelly, and of course, Grease, where she played the “good girl” Sandy who had fallen in love with Danny, the bad boy. The film produced beloved songs including “You’re the One That I Want” and “Summer Nights.” Her leading man in the film, John Travolta, paid tribute to the star after learning of her death.
On social media, he wrote, “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 first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”
In her later years, as she battled breast cancer, she started the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, as well as the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre. She was also candid about her experience with the disease.
When asked if she was scared after her third diagnosis, she said, “I’d be lying if I said I never go there. There are moments; I’m human. If I allowed myself to go there, I could easily create that big fear. But my husband’s always there, and he’s there to support me.”
Newton-John is survived by her husband John and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi, along with several siblings, nieces, and nephews.