Remembering Olivia Newton-John: Singer, Actress, and My Boyhood Crush

(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Another icon of the late-20th century has passed away. Olivia Newton-John, the singer and actress who made her name in country and pop music before bursting onto the silver screen in Grease, has passed away after a long battle with cancer.


Her team announced Newton-John’s passing on her official Facebook page on Monday afternoon.

The post announced, “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. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund (”

Olivia Newton-John was born in Britain to a Welsh father and a mother who fled Germany with her parents shortly before World War II to escape the Nazis. The family moved to Australia when Olivia was 14. She appeared on Australian television as a teen and recorded a few singles before her big break in 1971.

Her producer, John Farrar, nudged her early recordings in a country direction, and many of the singles in the earlier years of her career performed even better on the country charts than on the pop charts. The Country Music Association stirred up controversy and protest when it named her Female Vocalist of the Year in 1974.


Recommended: Remembering Pat Carroll, TV Pioneer and the Voice of Ursula in ‘The Little Mermaid’

By the mid-’70s, her career fortunes had started to decline when she took the role of Sandy in Grease, and the writers adapted the character to make her Australian. After that, she experienced a resurgence on the pop charts when she took her music in a sexier, more rock-oriented direction.

The 1980 movie Xanadu didn’t capture the magic that Grease did, but the soundtrack gave Newton-John some big hits, as did the Physical album one year later. Her chart performance dwindled throughout the ’80s, but she continued to record and have minor hits well into the 2010s.

In addition to her music and film work, Newton-John gave birth to a daughter in 1986, launched the Australian-themed retail store Koala Blue in 1988, and advocated for the environment and for cancer research involving natural medications. Queen Elizabeth II named her Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire at the 2020 New Year Honours, and the singer also won four Grammy Awards and an Emmy Award.

Newton-John’s first breast cancer diagnosis came in 1992, and it recurred in 2013. In 2017, her doctor misdiagnosed her back pain as sciatica, but it turned out that cancer had returned a third time and spread to her bones. She relied on natural treatments, including medical cannabis, and those treatments allowed her to live another five years.


Olivia Newton-John was my first boyhood crush. My aunts took me to see Grease when I was five (don’t judge), and I became enthralled with her. I kept her album covers on my wall, and I still have those albums and their covers today in my record collection. While I moved on to other crushes as Newton-John moved to a lower profile in the late ’80s, her music and her performance in Grease still hold a special place in my heart.

Another icon of my childhood is gone, but I’ll always cherish my memories of her. To borrow a statement from my friend and colleague, Vodkapundit, I honestly loved her.


Trending on PJ Media Videos

Join the conversation as a VIP Member