Olivia Newton-John is a well-known name in the music industry. The singer-songwriter and actress, born on September 26, 1948, in Cambridge, England, grew up in Melbourne, Australia. She first gained popularity as a singer in the 1960s and went on to record numerous Grammy Award-winning hits. Newton-John became an international star after playing Sandy in the 1978 film adaptation of Grease, co-starring John Travolta. The film became one of the most successful musicals in movie history, and the music gained immense popularity.
Early Career and Grammy Award Wins
Olivia Newton-John started singing in her teens, and in the mid-1960s, she went to England, where she performed in clubs and on television. She gained significant popularity in the United States with her third solo album, Let Me Be There (1973), with the title track winning a Grammy Award for best country female vocal performance. Newton-John scored hits on the country and pop charts with “Have You Never Been Mellow” and “I Honestly Love You,” which won the 1974 Grammy for record of the year.
Starring Role in ‘Grease’
Newton-John’s career reached new heights with the release of the 1978 film adaptation of the successful Broadway musical Grease. The movie told the story of two teenagers in love from two different social worlds, and Newton-John played the virtuous cheerleader Sandy opposite Travolta in the role of Danny, a rough-around-the-edges, but tender greaser. The film’s fun, catchy music, engaging storyline, and appealing performances made it a massive hit, and it became one of the most successful musicals in movie history.
‘Xanadu’ and ‘Physical’
Newton-John’s next film, Xanadu (1980), was unable to replicate the success of Grease. The movie, which attempted to cash in on two popular trends of the time – roller skating and disco – failed, though the soundtrack did well. Newton-John hit the charts again with the song “Magic,” but her musical career quieted down after that. She focused on other aspects of her life, including launching a chain of clothing stores called Koala Blue and starting a family.
Her Battle with Cancer and Activism
Newton-John’s life took a dramatic turn in 1992 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She battled the disease using chemotherapy and getting a partial mastectomy, and went on to record Gaia (1994). Back in the spotlight for the 20th anniversary of the release of Grease, Newton-John released Back with a Heart in 1998, which featured a new version of her classic hit “I Honestly Love You.”
As a cancer survivor, Newton-John donated a portion of the proceeds from her 2005 album Stronger than Before to cancer research. The album features songs she thought would provide hope and courage to cancer patients and their families, including the track “Can I Trust Your Arms,” which she co-wrote with her daughter, Chloe. In addition to raising awareness about breast cancer, Newton-John actively supported various environmental causes and charities.
Newton-John continued her advocacy work, leading a walk along the Great Wall of China with other cancer survivors to raise funds to build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne. She released A Celebration in Song (2008) in conjunction with the charity walk. Newton-John reunited with Travolta for the album This Christmas (2012), which featured traditional seasonal hits like “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
Newton-John faced cancer for the third time in 2018, revealing that she had a tumor in her lower back. She underwent radiation therapy and is now doing well. Newton-John has been an advocate for cancer awareness and research for many years, and her own battle with the disease has only strengthened her commitment to the cause. In addition to her work in the field of cancer research, Newton-John is also known for her contributions to music and entertainment. She has won four Grammy Awards and has sold over 100 million records worldwide. Newton-John’s hit songs include “Physical,” “I Honestly Love You,” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” among others. She has also acted in films such as “Grease” and “Xanadu.” Despite her health struggles, Newton-John remains a beloved and influential figure in the entertainment industry and beyond.