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Olivia Newton-John was a singer, Hollywood star and cancer activist. For her fans, though, she’ll always be the girl from Grease

In 1992, after a breast cancer diagnosis, her music took a more spiritual turn and she became an activist for cancer awareness, founding the Olivia Newton-John Foundation to fund research.

Hers was a life and career of many acts, but for her legions of fans, she will be Sandy forever.

With her sweet singing voice and general air of wholesomeness, Olivia Newton-John was a natural candidate for the status of America’s Sweetheart. The UK-born Australian singer and actor, who died in her home in California on Monday at the age of 73 after a long battle with breast cancer, became a global star with her role in the 1978 smash-hit musical Grease. Her performance as the goody-two-shoes Sandy who falls in love with the leather-clad Danny as well as her sizzling chemistry with co-star John Travolta, set the template for musicals and romantic comedies for years to come.

Subsequently, she also broke free from her squeaky clean image to someone a little more complicated. In Grease’s finale, Sandy has a pastel skirt-to-leather pants makeover, which Newton-John carried off-screen when, later that year, she released her album Totally Hot. The makeover reached its pinnacle with her bestselling 1981 album Physical — the album’s eponymous, Grammy-winning track, with an aerobics-inspired video, was banned in some markets for its sexually suggestive lyrics. The transformation that Grease helped launch was one of many. Newton-John had first made a name in the early 1970s singing crowd-pleasing pop numbers, followed by a stint as a country music star. She won a country Grammy in 1974.

Post-Physical, Newton-John’s career was in the doldrums after successive projects failed. In 1992, after a breast cancer diagnosis, her music took a more spiritual turn and she became an activist for cancer awareness, founding the Olivia Newton-John Foundation to fund research. Hers was a life and career of many acts, but for her legions of fans, she will be Sandy forever.

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First published on: 10-08-2022 at 04:20:54 am
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