(People) Singer-songwriter and actress Olivia Newton-John — a four-time Grammy winner and star of beloved movie musical Grease — has died. She was 73.
“Dame Olivia Newton-John 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,” her husband, John Easterling, announced Monday on Newton-John’s social media channels.
“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 @onjfoundation.”
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In May 2017, Newton-John announced that she was diagnosed with breast cancer which had metastasized to the sacrum. Her team said that Newton-John would be completing photon radiation therapy, in addition to natural wellness therapies after consulting with her medical team at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
“We both have the same unshakable belief that she’s going to have a wonderful success story,” her husband, John Easterling, 70, told PEOPLE at the time. “We’re not trying to be positive. We have an absolute knowingness that we can turn this around.”
Newton-John was known to refer to herself as a “cancer thriver,” acknowledging that she led a full life despite her diagnosis, ultimately living another five years.
In August 2018, the star was radiant but noticeably thinner at a 40th-anniversary screening of Grease held in Beverly Hills. Newton-John — Grease‘s good girl Sandy — even showed off her dance moves with John Travolta for photographers at the celebration.
Newton-John told reporters in January 2020 that she wasn’t letting cancer slow her down, saying, “I’m winning over it well and that’s how I see it. I don’t think about it a lot, to be honest. Denial is a really good thing and I’m getting stronger and better all the time! I’m doing well!”
She was doing well in February of last year as she prepared for daughter Chloe Lattanzi’s wedding. “I’m so lucky to still be doing all these things,” Newton-John told PEOPLE. “I don’t think I imagined living this long! I feel very blessed.”
Born in Cambridge in 1948, Newton-John and her two siblings – the grandchildren of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born – moved to Australia with their parents when she was just 5. It was there that she won a trip to London on television talent contest. The appearance would lead to numerous spots on local Australian programs before she redeemed her prize and traveled back to the U.K.
In London, Newton-John began touring as one-half of Pat & Olivia – her act with Pat Farrar. By 1971 though, Newton-John’s solo career had kicked off. Two albums – If Not For You and Olivia – followed in quick succession, before 1973’s Let Me Be There certified her star status in the U.K. and the U.S. The title track won Newton-John her first Grammy, for best female country vocal performance.
The next year, Newton-John collected two more Grammys, this time record of the year and best post vocal performance, female – both for her timeless hit “I Honestly Love You.” In total, Newton-John was nominated for 12 Grammys throughout her career, winning once more for video of the year with “Physical” in 1982.
Newton-John was also recognized with multiple Country Music Association and American Music Awards, as well as four People’s Choice Awards.
In 1978, Newton-John’s acting career took off with Grease, in which she starred opposite Travolta as innocent high schooler Sandy. The role earned Newton-John a Golden Globe nomination.