The actress and singer Olivia Newton-John has died this Monday at the age of 73 at her home in Southern California, her husband, John Easterling, has reported on his social networks.
“Olivia has been a symbol of triumph and hope for more than 30 years, in which she has shared her experience with breast cancer,” said the husband, who has asked that “instead of flowers” those interested send donations to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation, dedicated to plant medicine and cancer research.
Although Newton-John (United Kingdom, 1948) developed his career in show business as a singer, with hits like ‘If not for you’, ‘Let me be there’ and ‘Have you never been mellow’, his name was immortalized in Hollywood by starring alongside John Travolta in the musical ‘Grease’.
The star was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and managed to keep the tumor in remission until 2017. That year, Newton-John revealed that the cancer had returned and had spread to her spine. He also detailed that he had had a second cancer diagnosis in 2013, but kept it quiet.
The actress said she believed she would beat the disease and called on Australia to adopt the laws of the state of California, where she lived, to allow the medicinal use of marijuana. “My dream is that soon in Australia it will be available to all cancer patients and people with cancer that causes pain,” she said at the time.
After her first diagnosis, she became a prominent activist and created the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Research Center in Melbourne. Her good treatment will remain a key element of her legacy as much as her artistic career, which included four Grammy Awards and the sale of more than 100 million records.
But it was ‘Grease,’ the spirited 1978 adaptation of the Broadway musical for which she will be most fondly remembered. When she was offered the lead role of Sandy, she had to be talked into accepting because she was concerned that she was too old to play a high school senior. ‘Grease’ was the biggest box office hit of the year and its soundtrack album spent 12 consecutive weeks at number 1 in the US. Newton-John’s performance was nominated for a Golden Globe and she performed Hopeless Devoted to You at the 1979 Oscars.