Olivia Newton-John’s husband John Easterling paid tribute to the late actress in a touching Instagram post describing their time together as a ‘love that ‘transcends our understanding.’
The beloved actress and Australian icon best known for her role of Sandy in the film Grease died in Southern California on Monday at the age of 73.
Using Newton-John’s Instagram account, Easterling wrote: ‘Our love for each other transcends our understanding. Every day we expressed our gratitude for this love that could be so deep, so real, so natural.
‘We never had to ‘work’ on it. We were in awe of this great mystery and accepted the experience of our love as past, present and forever.’
Newton-John’s battle with breast cancer first began in 1992 when she was just 44 years old. But the cancer returned in 2013 and again in 2017.
Over the course of 30 years, Newton-John publicly shared the ups and downs of her fight with the disease, the treatments she went through and her never-ending hope.
Olivia Newton-John’s husband John Easterling paid tribute to beloved Grease actress, who died on Monday after long battle with cancer: ‘Our love for each other transcends our understanding’
Olivia Newton-John, left, in one of her last public appearances in 2019. The actress died on Monday aged 73. She is shown, right, in her most iconic role in Grease in 1978
Newton-John died peacefully at her ranch in Southern California Monday morning, surrounded by family and friends
Her husband John’s tribute continued with: ‘At Olivia’s deepest essence she was a healer using her mediums of song, of words, of touch. She was the most courageous woman I’ve ever known.
‘Her bandwidth for genuinely caring for people, for nature and all creatures almost eclipses what is humanely possible. It is only the grace of God that has allowed me to share the depth and passion of her being for so long.
‘In her most difficult times she always had the spirit, the humor, and the will power to move things into the light.
‘Even now as her soul soars, the pain and holes in my heart are healed with the joy of her love and the light that shines forward.
‘Our family deeply appreciates the vast ocean of love and support that has come our way.’
The family asked for donations to be made to her cancer organization, the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, instead of flowers.
She is also survived by her 36-year-old daughter, Chloe Lattanzi. Chloe posted a loving tribute to her mother on Instagram three days ago, saying: ‘I worship this woman. My mother. My best friend.’
Just days before her death, Olivia Newton-John posted a heartwarming photo to Instagram with her husband John Easterling
Her favorite role: Olivia Newton-John with her daughter Chloe Lattanzi, left, and right, when Chloe was a child. She suffered several miscarriages before giving birth to Chloe in 1986
The actress famously beat breast cancer twice but was diagnosed again in 2017.
She spent the last few years at home, campaigning for animals’ rights and raising money for her charity online.
In a haunting interview with The Guardian in 2020, she said of the disease: ‘It’s been a part of my life for so long.
‘I felt something was wrong. It’s concerning when it comes back, but I thought ‘I’ll get through it again”.
In other interviews, when asked how she battled the disease so bravely, she said: ‘I’ve had and am having an amazing life so I have no complaints.
‘I really don’t. Everyone goes through something. We all have something we need to go through in life. This has been my challenge.’
Despite the cruel toll the disease was taking her life – including crippling her for a period – Olivia kept performing, including touring the US in 2018.
She was very open about her diagnosis and treatment, which famously included the use of medical marijuana.
From 1973-83, Newton-John was among the world’s most popular entertainers. She had 14 top 10 singles just in the U.S., won four Grammys, starred with John Travolta in ‘Grease’ and with Gene Kelly in ‘Xanadu.’
The fast-stepping Travolta-Newton-John duet, ‘You’re the One That I Want,’ was one of the era’s biggest songs and has sold more than 15 million copies.
‘My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better,’ Travolta wrote in an online post. ‘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 moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!’
Newton-John’s iconic sweet-to-sexy transformation was recreated for years to come in costumes and tributes
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in the iconic 1978 movie Grease that catapulted her career. He was among the first to pay tribute to her on Monday
Newton-John famously resisted the part of Sandy in the 1978 movie Grease. She was 28 at the time and thought she was too old to play a fresh-faced high school student
Newton-John and Travolta at the 40th Anniversary of Grease in 2018 (left) and (right) promoting their 2012 Christmas album
‘Physical,’ the bouncy, R-rated smash released in 1981, was No. 1 for 10 weeks and was named Billboard’s song of the year despite being banned by some radio stations. An aerobics-friendly promotional clip, filmed in the early years of MTV, won a Grammy for best video.
Both musically and image-wise, she reinvented herself during those years. The blonde, ever-smiling Newton-John initially favored mild pop-country songs such as ‘Please Mr. Please’ and ‘Have You Never Been Mellow’ and soft-breathing ballads like ‘I Honestly Love You,’ which in 1975 won Grammys for best female pop vocal and record of the year.
But she picked up the tempo in ‘Grease,’ especially after Sandy ditched her white sweaters and blouses for waist-high, black leather pants. ‘Physical’ even made Newton-John blush as she told her would-be lover ‘There’s nothing left to talk about/Unless it’s horizontally’ and finally called out ‘Let’s get animal! Animal!’
‘I recorded it and then suddenly thought, ‘Goodness, maybe I’ve gone too far!’ she told Entertainment Weekly in 2017, recalling how the song had been suggested by manager Roger Davies. ‘I called Roger and said, ‘We’ve got to pull this song!’ He said, ‘It’s too late. It’s already gone to radio and it’s running up the charts.’ I was horrified!’
Fans flooded social media to mourn her death. ‘Farewell with love to the legend who will forever be my first crush,’ wrote actor Daniel Dae Kim. Added Tracie Thoms: ‘Olivia Newton-John is an icon. We will miss her dearly.’ Gabrielle Union said she and her sister watched ‘Xanadu’ ‘more times than I could count.
Newton-John in 2018 at the Wellness Walk and Research Run in Melbourne. She dedicated her final years to charity work
Olivia Newton-John’s home in southern California where she died peacefully on Monday surrounded by family
Newton-John’s husband announced her death on her Facebook page on Monday. She was 73
Australia’s acting Prime Minister Richard Marles described her death as feeling like the end of an era for a generation who grew up watching ‘Grease’ and said, ‘It feels like the world is a little emptier without Olivia Newton-John as a part of it.’
She had a few hits after ‘Physical,’ but her career declined and Newton-John became more likely to make news because of her private life. In 1992, as she was preparing a concert tour, her father died and she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Her marriage to actor Matt Lattanzi, with whom she had a daughter, actor-singer Chloe Lattanzi, broke up in 1995 and a years-long relationship with cameraman Patrick McDermott ended mysteriously. McDermott went missing during a 2005 fishing trip in California and his fate remained unknown years later. Numerous reports alleged that he was living in Mexico with a new girlfriend.
‘He was lost at sea, and nobody really knows what happened,’ Newton-John told Australia’s ’60 Minutes’ in 2016. ‘It’s human to wonder. But you know, those are the things in life you have to accept and let go. Because whenever you go through difficult times, there’s always those concerns.’
Newton-John’s recent albums included ‘Stronger Than Before’; a holiday collaboration with Travolta, ‘This Christmas’; and the autobiographical ‘Gaia: One Woman’s Journey,’ inspired by her battle with cancer and by the loss of her father.
Newton-John (left) in 1974 competing in the Eurovision Song Contest for Britain, four years before starring in Grease. She is shown (right) in 1980
Let’s get physical: Newton-John promoting her 1980 album. It was dedicated to her first husband Matt Lattanzi, right. The pair were married from 1984 until 1995
Dionne Warwick, who featured Newton-John on her 2006 album ‘My Friends and Me,’ wrote online that ‘another angelic voice has been added to the Heavenly Choir.’ And Lea Salonga wrote: ‘Rest In Peace, Olivia Newton-John. Hers was one of the voices of my childhood.’
Newton-John married John Easterling, founder of the Amazon Herb Company, in 2008. She was involved in numerous charitable causes, serving as goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme and as national spokeswoman for the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition. She also founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
Newton-John was the daughter of German literature professor Brin Newton-John and Irene Born, whose father was Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born. The Newton-Johns moved to Australia when Olivia was 5, but she returned to England in her teens and lived with her mother after her parents broke up.
She had early dreams of becoming a veterinarian but was winning singing contests in high school and before age 20 had toured army bases and clubs and recorded her first single, ‘Till You Say You’ll Be Mine.’ In 1971, she covered Bob Dylan’s ‘If Not for You’ and began a close partnership with a friend from Australia, John Farrar, who produced the song and later wrote ‘You’re the One That I Want,’ ‘Magic’ and several other hits for her.
She had loved country music, especially the records of ‘Tennessee’ Ernie Ford, since childhood, but her early success didn’t impress critics or some fellow musicians. A Village Voice review likened her to a geisha who ‘makes her voice smaller than it really is just to please men.’
A huge floral wreath decorated the star on Monday as fans flooded social media to mourn her death
When Newton-John beat out Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn for the Country Music Association’s top artist of 1973, Tammy Wynette helped found the Association of Country Entertainers, a club designed to exclude Newton-John and other crossover performers.
But Newton-John had a show business admirer who with her became one of movies’ most unforgettable teams. Travolta had starred in the stage version of ‘Grease’ and for the planned film thought Newton-John would be the ‘ultimate’ Sandy, the nice girl who gets tough in the final act and gets her man.
‘I worried that at 29 I was too old to play a high school girl,’ Newton-John, who insisted on taking a screen test before accepting the part, told The Telegraph in 2017.
‘Everything about making the film was fun, but if I had to pick a favorite moment, it was the transformation from what I call Sandy 1 to Sandy 2. I got to play a different character and wear different clothes, and when I put on that tight black outfit to sing ‘You’re the One That I Want,’ I got a very different reaction from the guys on the set.’