Monday, August 08, 2022

Olivia Newton-John Dies at 73

Truly heartbroken to learn that Olivia Newton-John has died at 73, after a long battle with breast cancer. I know many of you are hurting too, so seeing my social-media timelines are a running tribute makes me feel a little less alone. Lovely Livvy was a chart-topping pop and country singer with hits like "I Honestly Love You," "If You Love Me Let Me Know" and "Have You Never Been Mellow" when I fell in love with her. (“Have You Never Been Mellow” was the first album I ever purchased, $4.99 of well-spent birthday money at Korvettes in Madison Heights!)  

No sooner did I complete my collection with “Making a Good Thing Better” did she become an even bigger star after playing Sandy in "Grease," with its mega soundtrack, featuring "Hopelessly Devoted to You," "You're the One That I Want" and "Summer Nights." (I saw "Grease" opening weekend at the Abbey in the parking lot of Oakland Mall, the same place I saw "Heaven Can Wait" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"!) From there she reinvented herself as a slightly less innocent pop goddess, with a string of hits including "A Little More Love," "Deeper Than the Night" (my Song of the Day just last Tuesday), "Magic," "Physical," "Heart Attack" (and superior fraternal twin "Tied Up"), "Twist of Fate," "(Livin' in) Desperate Times" and "Soul Kiss." (Even after I left her for Debbie Harry I never stopped loving her.) Olivia was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and has been a tireless advocate for all people with cancer ever since.  xo

Olivia Newton-John's husband, John Easterling, wrote on Facebook:

Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.

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 is survived by her husband John Easterling; daughter Chloe Lattanzi; sister Sarah Newton-John; brother Toby Newton-John; nieces and nephews Tottie, Fiona and Brett Goldsmith; Emerson, Charlie, Zac, Jeremy, Randall, and Pierz Newton-John; Jude Newton-Stock, Layla Lee; Kira and Tasha Edelstein; and Brin and Valerie Hall.

My friend Dennis Hensley theorized that "gay boys the world over loved Olivia Newton-John because she sang and looked like an angel and also because we felt like if she met us, she’d like us. And we were right." I think he's on to something, and can't help but wonder if there was also maybe an unconscious hope that if we met someone like her, we could live happily ever after with a woman. One thing I do know for sure is that she brought me -- and the world -- immeasurable joy. How lucky we are to have her vast music catalog and "Grease" -- and "Xanadu"(!) -- to forever remember her. RIP.


scotties62 said...

I am truly devastated to hear this news, Olivia brought so much joy to millions all over the world for decades, she will be missed very much and I am grateful for her legacy of talent, courage and inspiratio. Truly one in a million. RIP Olivia.
Scott Stubanas

bentley1963 said...

She was this gay boy's first crush.When she put out her cigarette with her red mule was a defining moment.She will be forever loved and deeply missed.

j said...

She is a true gay icon may she Rest in Peace. said...

Upon the news of her passing, YOU were one of the first people I thought of. I sympathize and empathize. Thought you might like to see my ON-J scrapbook I brought out in remembrance. Video on Twitter: