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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Adrian Horton

Tributes flow for Olivia Newton-John after Australian star’s death

Hollywood, musicians and Australian leaders are mourning Olivia Newton-John, who died on Monday at her southern California ranch at the age of 73. The Grease star and chart-topping singer, who publicly discussed her breast cancer since her first diagnosis in 1992, died surrounded by family and friends, according to a statement posted to her Facebook page by her widower, John Easterling.

Shortly after her family’s announcement, tributes began pouring in from former costars to longtime celebrity admirers of the soft-rock icon – Newton-John sold over 100m records and charted nearly 40 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 during her nearly five decades in music.

Her Grease costar John Travolta posted to Instagram: “My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”

Australian singer Kylie Minogue shared a photo of herself with Newton-John at the Royal Bicentennial Concert in 1988 on Twitter. “Since I was 10 years old, I have loved and looked up to Olivia Newton John. And, I always will,” she wrote. “She was, and always will be, an inspiration to me in so many, many ways. My deepest condolences to her family and loved ones. x ONJ4EVER”

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese called her “a star” and “a bright, joyful glow in our lives.”

“From the moment we saw her, she was a warm, enduring presence and her voice became a big part of the Australian soundtrack. Above all she was a wonderful, generous person,” he wrote on Twitter. “I had the privilege of meeting Olivia in 2019. The work she did though her cancer research centre was important and inspirational. Her legacy will live on, in her music, her films and her determination that one day we will find a cure for cancer. We will miss her so very much.”

Grease director Randal Kleiser told The Hollywood Reporter: “I’m heartbroken. She was one of a kind, and so very kind. For over four decades of our friendship she exuded nothing but love to everyone she met. Olivia was exactly the way you imagined her. I will miss her forever.”

Her Grease co-star Stockard Channing, who played Rizzo, said in a statement to THR: “I don’t know if I’ve known a lovelier human being. 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.”

Australian singer John Farnham, who performed Dare to Dream alongside Newton-John at the opening ceremony for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said in a statement: “The Farnham family send love and sympathies to Olivia’s family. Behind that iconic smile was a tenacious fighter. A beautiful voice and a loyal friend. She will be greatly missed.”

The actor George Takei posted on Twitter: “We have lost a great, iconic artist in Olivia Newton-John, gone too soon from us at age 73. I trust she is now in the great Xanadu beyond. Know that we are forever hopelessly devoted to you, Olivia. Rest in song and mirth.”

Australian singer and former Neighbours star Delta Goodrem, who was diagnosed with cancer when she was 18, paid tribute to her mentor on Instagram.

“The whole world will feel this heartbreak today because the entire world felt Olivia’s unmatched light,” Goodrem wrote. “A force for good. A force of nature. Strong and kind. my mentor, my friend, my inspiration, someone who always guided me… she was always there for me. Family to me. I don’t have all the words I would like to say today but I hope everyone will join in celebrating our beloved Olivia, her heart, soul, talent, courage, grace… I love you forever.”

Singer Dionne Warwick tweeted: “Another angelic voice has been added to the Heavenly Choir. Not only was Olivia a dear friend, but one of the nicest people I had the pleasure of recording and performing with. I will most definitely miss her. She now Rests in the Arms of the Heavenly Father.”

“‘Grease’ is my #1 movie of all time and made me a lifelong Olivia Newton-John fan,” tweeted actor Gabrielle Union. “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.”

Director James Gunn said Newton-John was his “first real crush” and revealed he once lived in her former home in Malibu.

“Like so many, Olivia has always been my hero,” the actor and dancer Julianne Hough posted on Instagram. “Discovering her magnetic energy as an artist and actress came first but it was her heart that truly captured mine. Forever an icon and legend!”

“I am SO saddened at the news of the passing of Olivia Newton-John,” the actor Marlee Matlin tweeted. “I remember being so star struck when I met her at my first Hollywood gathering for Paramount. She was the sweetest and brightest light and I loved getting to know her on “It’s My Party.” RIP dear, sweet Olivia.

“The history of soft rock aka ‘yacht rock’ has been told mostly by men and that’s why its queens have mostly been marginalized. Olivia Newton-John was one of the biggest. RIP to a master of delicacy,” wrote NPR and music critic Ann K Powers.

“Very sad news. Great admiration for how she bravely faced breast cancer,” tweeted Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, who has also survived breast cancer. “Condolences to her loving family and friends.”

“Her memory is already a blessing,” tweeted Nigella Lawson, the celebrity chef.

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