Entertainment

Olivia Newton John passes away: The Australian star’s early life and career and her popularity

Olivia Newton-John captured the world’s attention playing Sandy Olsson on the 1978 hit Grease.

In 1964, at the age of 15, she won a singing competition – the prize was a trip to London, where she built a remarkable career with hits that fused country and pop.

The Australian artist’s first album, released in 1971, was called If not for you. It came from her country music roots and hit the US Top 25.

She won the Academy of Country Music title for New Female Vocalist in 1973 and since then her stardom hasn’t stopped rising.

READ MORE: Tributes to Olivia Newton-John as she lost her battle with breast cancer

Olivia Newton John
Olivia Newton-John’s first album, released in 1971, was called If Not For You. (Fairfax News)

Her musical career went from strength to strength, with hit singles and album success, culminating in her appearance at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, where she represented for England, performing ‘Long Live Love’.

Newton-John came in fourth, while ABBA took the top prize on behalf of Sweden, performing ‘Waterloo’.

That same year, the singer released the single ‘I Actually Love You’, which became her first pop number one.

READ MORE: John Travolta’s touching tribute to Olivia

Newton John took fourth place at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974.
Newton-John took fourth place at the 1974 European Song Contest. (European Song Contest)

She is said to have been encouraged by fellow singer/songwriter Helen Reddy to move from the UK to the US to pursue her career, and although she achieved some success, it wasn’t until she was cast as Sandy. . Grease in 1978 where she achieved great success.

Before she found Hollywood fame, however, Newton-John was entangled in a lawsuit demanding a change in recording contracts for future artists.

Her attempts to be released from an unsatisfactory deal with the MCA meant futures contracts based on the number of albums produced by the artist rather than a number of years.

Grease started as a Broadway musical before plans for a movie were announced and John Travolta cast Danny Zuko.

READ MORE: Olivia Newton-John’s daughter Chloe Lattanzi shares posthumous tribute

Olivia Newton John on the set of the 1978 hit film Grease.
Olivia Newton-John on the set of the 1978 hit film Grease. (AP)

It was Newton-John’s insistence on an on-screen experiment with Travolta that won her the role, thanks to their incredible chemistry.

The role of Sandy was rewritten to reflect her Australian background and became a box office hit in 1978. The film’s success helped transform her singing career, with Newton-John achieving it. two number-one singles that year – ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘Hopelessly For You’.

Thanks to their obvious chemistry, rumors Newton-John and Travolta dated both during and after filming Grease circulated but was never confirmed.

She then explained that the two were with other people during filming and that their relationship was a friendship.

Newton John insisted on a relationship with Travolta, he eventually got the role of Sandy.
Newton-John insisted on having a minimal relationship with Travolta, eventually landing the role of Sandy. (AP)

At the time, Newton-John was in an unrepeatable relationship with British businessman Lee Kramer, who also served as her manager until the couple’s hiatus in 1979.

After the success of the film and the music it produced, Newton-John was again forced to file a lawsuit against a record label – this time against Universal Music Group for unpaid royalties from Grease soundtrack, resulting in an undisclosed settlement.

Newton-John is a warrior who knows her worth. That spirit would see her go through a devastating battle over her health that would eventually claim her life at the age of 73.

Newton John has sold over 100 million albums worldwide during her incredible career.
Newton-John has sold over 100 million albums worldwide during her incredible career. (AP)

Continuing the success of Greaseboth film and soundtrack, Newton-John has a string of successes.

In 1980, she starred in the hit classic Xanadu with Gene Kelly. The soundtrack features a duet with Cliff Richard called “Suddenly”, performed well alongside “Magic” and the title track “Xanadu”.

It was during filming Xanadu that Newton John had met her future husband Matt Lattanzi, the father of daughter Chloe, 36.

The couple married in 1984. Newton-John took a hiatus from her career three years after the birth of Chloe before she and Lattanzi divorced in 1995.

Newton John with Xanadu co-star Michael Beck.
Newton-John with Xanadu co-star Michael Beck. (Universal image)

Continuing the success of Grease and XanaduNewton-John decided to pivot away from sincere ballads with album release Physics, through which she forever molted her schoolgirl image; Its lyrics were so hard to hear, some radio stations refused to play it.

To combat this, Newton-John shot a music video that turned the song into a fitness song, showing her in an exercise class wearing a headband.

This was followed by an international tour, and the release of her first most successful album.

Newton-John and Travolta co-star in another movie called Two of a Kind, released in 1983, although it was met with mediocre success.

Matt Lattanzi, Chloe Lattanzi and Olivia Newton John after Chloe's performance in the musical Hair.
Matt Lattanzi, Chloe Lattanzi and Olivia Newton-John after Chloe’s performance in the musical Hair. (Fairfax Media)

That same year, she entered the business world, launching the Koala Blue brand with her friend Pat Farrar. The fashion line operated until 1992 when it was forced to file for bankruptcy.

That same year, Newton-John was first diagnosed with and overcame breast cancer.

She became a staunch supporter of breast cancer research, founding the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute.

In 1983, Newton John entered the business world, launching the Koala Blue brand.
In 1983 Newton-John entered the business world, launching the Koala Blue brand. (AP)

A year after divorcing Lattanzi, Newton-John began dating cinematographer Patrick McDermott.

The couple’s relationship went on and on until McDermott disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 2005 after a fishing trip.

The couple is said to have broken up at the time of his disappearance. There are claims McDermott faked his disappearance, however this has never been confirmed.

Newton-John has finally found true and lasting love with John Easterling, founder and president of Amazon Herb Company. They were married in a grand ceremony in 2008 and he is said to have been by her side at the time of her death.

Newton John with her second husband John Easterling.
Newton-John with her second husband John Easterling. (Andrew Meares)

Newton-John continued to tour internationally, with Cliff Richard and John Farnham, until her health declined in recent years. She also appeared in the hit American TV show Gleein which she performed “Physical” with Jane Lynch regularly.

In 2014, she was an artist living in Las Vegas, and was a guest judge on an episode RuPaul’s Drag Race next year.

Also in 2015, Newton-John scored his first number-one single on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart with “You Have to Believe” with his daughter Chloe.

Olivia Newton-John’s musical and cinematic legacy will live on with, most importantly, her work to help advance breast cancer research and treatment.

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Olivia Newton-John: Her extraordinary life is remembered

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