Olivia Newton-John, the four-time Grammy-winning singer known for chart-topping hits such as 1981’s “Physical" and her role as Sandy Olsson in the move Grease, has died after years battling breast cancer. She was 73.
“Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” wrote Newton-John's husband, John Easterling on Instagram on August 8.
After being first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, Newton-John became an advocate for breast cancer survivors. Her cancer went into remission but returned again in 2013. In May of 2017, she revealed that she has breast cancer that metastasized to her spine.
During the course of her treatments, Newton-John became a firm believer in plant-based medicine, and with herbalist husband, she founded the Olivia Newton-John Foundation to fund research on herbal therapies for cancer. In 2020, she told the American Botanical Council, “In the past few years, I have had wonderful success with herbs and cannabis that my husband grows for me.”
Her husband wrote on Instagram, “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.”
Newton-John was born September 26, 1948, in Cambridge, England. At age 5, she moved with her family to Australia. After winning a talent show at age 16, she moved to England and pursued a singing career full-time. She had her first charting song in 1971 with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “If Not for You.” Through the 1970s and 1980s, she became a pop icon with top-selling hits such as "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)," "Have You Never Been Mellow," and "I Honestly Love You."
Her fame increased further after appearing opposite John Travolta in the 1978 movie version of the musical Grease. Her biggest smash was “Physical” in 1981, which spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100.
In 2019, Newton-John told the Today Show that she saw herself as a thriver and a winner when it came to her health: “I think, you know, what you think creates your reality. So it's a decision. You have to make that decision. You can be a victim, or you can be a winner and enjoy your life.”