Rona Newton-John, the sister of Australian pop superstar Olivia Newton-John, died May 24 of an aggressive brain tumor, the singer shared Tuesday.
In a poignant message on her Facebook page, Olivia, 64, paid loving tribute to her late sister. The post had been 'Liked' over 16,000 times by Thursday morning.
"My beautiful sister Rona sadly passed on May 24th in Los Angeles. It was May 25th in Australia - which was our mother Irene's birthday" the note began.
"Rona died of a very aggressive brain tumor and mercifully suffered no pain. She was surrounded by the love of her four children - Fiona, Brett, Tottie and Emerson and, her wonderful friends. I will miss her forever - my beautiful, smart, talented, funny, brave sister Rona. In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate donations to the ONJCWC, where a brain tumor wellness program will be started in her name. Thank you all for your kind words of love and support."
The ONJCWC is the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre at the Austin Hospital in Heidelberg, Melbourne, Australia. Donations can be made here. Olivia herself battled and defeated breast cancer nearly 20 years ago and is a huge proponent of cancer awareness.
"Entertainment Tonight" broke the news about Rona's illness back in April. They also reported that Olivia would be postponing her planned Las Vegas residency in order to support her sister through her difficult journey.
Rona was born in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, in 1943 and came from quite the talented family. According to her IMDB profile, her and Olivia's grandfather was German physicist Max Born, who was a Nobel prize winner. Their mother, Irene Born, was a writer, photographer, and environmentalist, and their father, Brinley Newton-John, was a professor and dean at Cambridge, with an operatic voice.
Rona was an actress herself, who worked in both TV and film. On the small screen she was best known for appearing on "The Benny Hill Show" and the British series "UFO." On film, she acted in "The Same Skin" (1969) and more recently showed up acting alongside her sister in the 2000 version of Del Shores's "Sordid Lives."
At one point, she was married to troubled "Grease" actor Jeff Conaway, who died in 2011 after struggles with substance abuse. They reportedly met at a party during the 1978 filming of "Grease,” in which Olivia starred. They married in 1980, but divorced five years later.
According to ABC News, she had been working for several years on a memoir called "The Dark Side of Charisma," which was due out this summer.
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