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 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.
Two years later, she lead another movie musical, Xanadu, before later appearing with Travolta again in 1983’s Two of a Kind. Despite a few other film and television roles, Newton-John’s focus returned to music.
Newton-John — who received the Officer of the Order of the British Empire medal in 1979 — wed actor Matt Lattanzi in 1984, with whom she welcomed her only child, daughter Chloe Lattanzi, in 1986. The couple divorced in 1995.
One of the first stars to publicly share their health crisis’, Newton-John revealed in 1992 her first diagnosis with breast cancer. Her battle – which included a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and breast reconstruction – ultimately lead to the creation of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in Melbourne. In the decades since, Newton-John become an advocate for cancer awareness and research.
In addition, Newton-John began as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador in 1991, and once served as the national spokesperson for the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition. She and Easterling – whom she wed in 2008 – also worked closely with the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research.
Eight years before her death, Newton-John was honored with the Medal of the Order of Australia. . .