Singer-actor Olivia Newton-John died Monday at age 73. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. It recurred in 2013, and then in 2017 Newton-John announced she had been diagnosed yet again and the cancer had metastasized.
Newton-John was known for her hits—she racked up five No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100, including “Physical,” whose 10 weeks at the top spot made it the longest-running No. 1 single of the ‘80s. She was also known, of course, for the blockbuster movie adaptation of the Broadway musical Grease, in which she played the lead role of Sandy. John Travolta, who starred opposite Newton-John as her love interest Danny, posted on Instagram a heartfelt tribute to Newton-John after news of her death broke.
The caption reads: “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!”
Stockard Channing, who played Rizzo, Sandy’s rough-around-the-edges foil in Grease, told E! News in a statement: “I don’t know if I’ve known a lovelier human being. Olivia was the essence of summer—her sunniness, her warmth and her grace are what always come to mind when I think of her. I will miss her enormously.”
They’re just a few of the many who have weighed in on the loss. Newton-John was an advocate, with a cancer-research foundation and wellness center in her name, and she spoke about cancer frequently. On Sarah Grynberg’s A Life of Greatness podcast in 2021, Newton-John discussed death: “We all know we’re going to die, but I think we spend our lives in denial. It’s extremely personal so it’s hard to put into words...I hope the energies of the people you love will be there... I think all the love will be there. I’m sort of looking forward to that, not now, but when it happens.” In response to reports of her imminent demise in 2019, she posted a video on Twitter announcing that “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
For a time she was one of the biggest pop stars in the world, and her gay icon-hood extended well beyond her commercial peak, as it often does. She will be missed. Clearly, she already is.
Before we get to the bullets, here’s a quick Notable/Quotable, via People, from Neve Campbell on turning down Scream 6:
I did not feel that what I was being offered equated to the value that I bring to this franchise, and have brought to this franchise, for 25 years. And as a woman in this business, I think it’s really important for us to be valued and to fight to be valued. I honestly don’t believe that if I were a man and had done five installments of a huge blockbuster franchise over 25 years, that the number that I was offered would be the number that would be offered to a man. And in my soul, I just couldn’t do that. I couldn’t walk on set feeling that — feeling undervalued and feeling the unfairness, or lack of fairness, around that.
Hopefully, they get their shit together for next time.
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