Olivia Newton-John, ‘Grease’ Star and Pop Icon, Dies at 73

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Olivia Newton-John, the singer and songwriter best known to movie lovers as the star of Grease, has died.

According to TMZ, her death was confirmed by her husband John Easterling, who said Newton-John “died peacefully at her ranch in Southern California Monday morning, surrounded by family and friends.” Newton-John had multiple bouts of breast cancer through the years, although the site had not confirmed that as the cause of her death at this time. (A source did tell them however that “after a 30-year cancer journey, she lost her battle to metastatic breast cancer.”)

Born in Cambridge in England, and raised in Australia after her father accepted a job there as a professor, Newton-John became an international star as a musician in the early 1970s, then reached even greater heights of fame when she starred opposite John Travolta in the film version of the Broadway musical Grease. She played Sandy, who comes to Rydell High and falls for Travolta’s Danny Zuko. The film became the number one box-office smash of 1978, outgrossing films like National Lampoon’s Animal HouseClose Encounters of the Third Kind, and the original Christopher Reeve Superman.

A few years later, she had one of the biggest musical hits of her career with the risqué “Physical.” Although the song and music video were somewhat controversial due to their frank content, the Physical album sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.

Newton-John also starred in Xanadu, a musical with roller disco numbers. Although a flop in its day, it has since become a big cult favorite, and later inspired a Broadway musical of its own. Newton-John played Kira, a muse from ancient Greece who falls for an artist in modern times.

While Newton-John probably left her greatest legacy in the music world, filmgoers will be watching Grease for ever. She will not be forgotten.

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