A Singer, A Dancer, A Battler

Dame Olivia Newton-John (born 26 September 1948) is an English–Australian singer, songwriter, actress, dancer, entrepreneur and activist. She is a four-time Grammy Award winner who has amassed five number-one and ten other top-ten Billboard Hot 100 singles, and two number-one Billboard 200 albums. Olivia Newton-John enjoyed huge popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, touching hearts with songs like If Not For You, Have You Never Been Mellow, I Honestly Love You, A Little More Love, and Sam. In 1978 Olivia took America by storm when she starred as Sandy in the evergreen musical Grease with John Travolta. Her 1981 album Physical stormed the charts with the title track, followed by songs like Landslide. The year before Olivia had the leading role in the 1980 movie Xanadu, starting a trend for leg warmers and roller skates that seemed to define the early 1980s.

Perhaps best known for playing the squeaky-clean Sandy in the movie musical Grease (1978), she got her start as a singer in her teens. Newton-John went to England in the mid-1960s and performed in clubs and on television. Newton-John made a splash in the United States with her third solo album, Let Me Be There (1973), the title track winning a Grammy Award for best country female vocal performance. 

Newton-John’s life took a dramatic turn in 1992 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She battled the disease using chemotherapy and getting a partial mastectomy and went on to record Gaia (1994). Back in the spotlight for the 20th anniversary of the release of Grease, Newton-John released Back with a Heart in 1998. The album featured a new version of her classic hit “I Honestly Love You.” Newton-John tackled a subject very close to her heart with 2005’s Stronger than Before. As a cancer survivor, she donated a portion of the proceeds to cancer research, and she recorded songs she thought would provide hope and courage to cancer patients and their families. It includes the track “Can I Trust Your Arms,” which she co-wrote with her daughter, Chloe.

The artist suffered another hardship in June 2005. Her boyfriend of nine years, Patrick McDermott, 48, vanished when he failed to return from a fishing trip off the California coast. There were many investigations into McDermott’s mysterious disappearance, with some claiming that he was still alive and living in Mexico. In May 2017, Newton-John postponed a North American tour after learning that the cancer had returned and spread to her lower back. She underwent radiation combined with natural remedies and continues to have a positive outlook for her future. “I’m not going to be one of those statistics. I am going to be fine. And I will probably deal with this in my life as an ongoing thing,” she told Today. “I think that you can live with cancer like you can live with other things — if you take care of yourself. 

In September 2018, Newton-John revealed that she is battling cancer for the third time. The singer told Australia’s Channel Seven she has a tumour at the base of her spine and is undergoing radiation, eating healthy and taking cannabis oil for pain relief. “I believe I will win over it,” she said. “That’s my goal”. Olivia continued her advocacy, leading a walk along the Great Wall of China with other cancer survivors to raise funds to build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne.

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