Olivia Newton-John, ‘Grease’ actress & singer, dies at 73

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    By Paul Grein, BILLBOARD

    9th August 2022 – (California) Olivia Newton-John, beloved actress and singer best known for her role as Sandy Olsson in Grease and for a long string of hits topped by 1981’s “Physical,” died on Monday (8th August). She was 73.

    Her official Facebook page confirmed the news, noting: “Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.”

    The post continued, “Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer. Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund (ONJFoundationFund.org).”

    Newton-John was one of the most popular recording artists of the 1970s and 1980s. She was also a notably nimble artist – moving from early country music hits like “Let Me Be There” to mainstream pop hits like “Have You Never Been Mellow” to sexier, edgier fare like “Make a Move on Me.”

    She was also one of the first artists to have significant success in video. She won a Grammy for music video of the year for her 1982 collection “Olivia Physical.” She was only the second artist to win a Grammy for video, following Michael Nesmith for “Michael Nesmith in Elephant Parts.”

    Newton-John amassed five No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including “Physical,” which was only the second song in Hot 100 history (following Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life”) to log 10 weeks at No. 1.

    In 1975, she became just the second female solo artist to land back-to-back No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200. She topped the chart with both If You Love Me, Let Me Know (1974) and her follow-up, Have You Never Been Mellow (1975). At that time, Carole King was the only other female solo artist to achieve that feat. The former Brill Building songwriter turned solo superstar hit No. 1 with Tapestry (1971) and her follow-up, Music (1972).

    Newton-John also starred with John Travolta in the blockbuster Grease, which was the top-grossing film of 1978. The film soundtrack spent 12 weeks atop the Billboard 200 and wound up with a Grammy nomination for album of the year.

    Newton-John was born Sept. 26, 1948, in Cambridge, England, but was raised in Melbourne, Australia. At age 16, she won a talent contest trip to England. She sang with Pat Carroll as Pat & Olivia. She also sang with the group Toomorrow in a British movie of the same name.

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