John Travolta leads emotional tributes to Grease star Olivia Newton-John

·4 min read

Watch: John Travolta leads tributes to Olivia Newton-John

Heartfelt tributes from fans and celebrity friends alike have flooded in for Olivia Newton-John who yesterday passed away at the age of 73.

Announcing the news on Monday 8 January, the actor's husband confirmed she had passed away peacefully surrounded by her loved ones at her home in California.

"Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends," John Easterling – who married the actor in 2008 – said in a statement. "We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time."

Newton-John was best known for her starring role as Sandy Olsson alongside John Travolta in the 1978 classic Grease – and it was her costar who lead the way with an emotional message to his long-time friend.

"My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better," Travolta wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of his Grease costar. "Your impact was incredible. I love you so much."

Travolta continued: "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!"

Photo credit: Richard Davis - Getty Images
Photo credit: Richard Davis - Getty Images

"I don’t know if I’ve known a lovelier human being," Grease's Stockard Channing later told The Hollywood Reporter. "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."

Elsewhere on social media, celebrities including the likes of Kylie Minogue paid their respects to the acting legend. "Since I was ten years old, I have loved and looked up to Olivia Newton John. And, I always will," Minogue wrote on Twitter. "She was, and always will be, an inspiration to me in so many, many ways. My deepest condolences to her family and loved ones."

"Grease is my #1 movie of all time and made me a lifelong Olivia Newton-John fan," fellow actor Gabrielle Union tweeted after news broke of Newton-John's tragic passing. "Me and my sister watched Xanadu more times than I could count. Sending so much love and prayers to a real gift of a woman and talent."

Meanwhile, Sir Rod Stewart wrote: "My great friend Olivia Newton-John has passed away. She was the perfect lady, gorgeous, with great poise and with a certain Aussie sophistication. Her spandex trousers in Grease were my inspiration for my 'Da ya think I’m Sexy' era. RIP Olivia."

Photo credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez - Getty Images
Photo credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez - Getty Images

Although Newton-John's official cause of death has not been revealed, her husband referenced her legacy and decades-long fight to raise awareness of breast cancer – for which she became a Dame in 2020 – in his statement announcing her passing. "Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer," Easterling noted.

"Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer."

The Cambridge-born actor – who moved to Australia at the age of six and later went on to have a successful recording career, representing the UK in the 1974 Eurovision song contest – was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and again in 2013. However, Newton-John kept quiet about her condition until 2017 when she revealed it had returned and spread to her spine.

"I'm one of millions in this fight. I shouldn't say fight... in this journey," she said during an emotional interview in 2018. "A lot of people see it as a fight, and wherever you choose to see it, that's your prerogative. I see it as part of my mission... I believe I will win over it and that's my goal."

Discussing her treatment, the actor opened up about her use of natural remedies – including medicinal marijuana that she campaigned would one day "be available to all the cancer patients and people going through cancer that causes pain" – adding that she was also undergoing radiation therapy.

"Cancer was enlightening," Newton-John once said of her outlook on her experience. "When you’re ill, it doesn’t matter if you have all the money in the world – it makes no difference. I feel very blessed to have been given the chance to live."

Our thoughts are with Olivia Newton-John's family and friends at this incredibly sad time.

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