It’s still hard to believe that the world lost Olivia Newton-John this week. Her husband, John Easterling, confirmed on Facebook Monday morning that Newton-John had passed away. She went peacefully in her sleep surrounded by family and friends on her ranch in Santa Ynez, California. The official cause of death is still unknown but it’s no secret Newton-John had been battling breast cancer since the early 90s. Although she beat it the first time around, it returned twice since and metastasized the last time it returned in 2017.
Some of us only really got to know Newton-John when she blew up the box office as the lead in Grease. But she was far from the new girl trying to make her way in the world. In fact, Newton-John was very skeptical about taking the role of Sandy. She was already a successful singer and the movie adaptation of the stage musical wasn’t expected to do well. Newton-John didn’t want to ruin her career with a bad film role. But John Travolta didn’t want anyone else to do it and so she agreed.
Newton-John had five number one hits during her music career, and an additional ten top-ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Before starring in Grease, Newton-John was making a name for herself with hits including, “If Not For You” (1971), “Banks of the Ohio” (1971), “Let Me Be There“(1973), “I Honestly Love You” (1974), “If You Love Me, Let Me Know” (1974), “Have You Ever Been Mellow” (1975), and “Sam” (1977). Before that she was part of the duet “Pat and Olivia” with Pat Carroll, recruited for the band Toomorrow which starred in a film and recorded an accompanying soundtrack, and was in telefilms and tv shows prior to that. In fact, Newton-John had been singing in various projects since she was 14.
So let’s take a look at Olivia Newton-John before she was our beloved Sandy.