Olivia Newton-John Dies at 73

The British-Australian singer and actress died following her third bout with breast cancer.

Olivia Newton-John photographed in January 2012

Updated on August 8, 2022.

Olivia Newton-John, beloved singer and actress, has died at age 73 after her third bout with breast cancer.

"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," read a statement released by her husband, John Easterling on Monday, August 8.

"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."

Newton-John was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, and then again in 2013. Four years later, the singer revealed the cancer had returned and progressed to stage IV, meaning it spread to other parts of her body. In recent years, she embraced medical cannabis along with her regular medical treatments.

“Going through cancer, you learn you’re strong,” Newton-John told Parade magazine in January 2021. “Most people are not aware of the strength they have until they’re put to the test by something in their lives. I’m one of those people.”

About recurrent breast cancer

Each year, more Americans are diagnosed with breast cancer than any other type of cancer. About 287,850 women will be diagnosed in 2022, according to an American Cancer Society (ACS) estimate. Approximately 43,250 women will likely die of the disease according to the ACS, making it the fourth deadliest cancer behind lung, colorectal, and pancreatic cancer.

Though successful treatment allows many people to live free of breast cancer for the rest of their lives, the disease returns for a significant number of women—among them, Newton-John. This is called recurrence. When cancer recurs, it can do so in the same area of the body (local recurrence), in lymph nodes close by (regional recurrence), or in other parts of the body (distant recurrence).

Local and regional breast cancers have 5-year survival rates over 85 percent, meaning 85 percent of women with these types of cancers live for at least five years following diagnosis. Despite recent treatment improvements, distant breast cancer—the diagnosis Newton-John received in 2017—has just a 29 percent 5-year survival rate.

Newton-John’s advocacy work

At one point perhaps the most famous breast cancer survivor in the world, Newton-John dedicated much of her life to awareness, fundraising, and research for the disease. In addition to her decades of talks and interviews discussing her journey, she helped establish the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia, a comprehensive cancer facility specializing in treatment, research, and clinical trials.

A proponent of medical cannabis, the singer also created the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund in 2020 to explore plant-based treatments for cancer.

Achievements and milestones

Born in 1948 in Cambridge, England, Olivia Newton-John moved to Australia with her family at age 5. She began singing and appearing on Australian TV in her teens and eventually toured military bases throughout Europe.

Newton-John released a handful of moderately successful singles and albums in the early 1970s before breaking through in the United States with “Let Me Be There” in 1973. A long string of top-10 hits followed, including “I Honestly Love You” and “Physical,” which spent 10 weeks at number 1 starting in 1981.

Onscreen, Newton-John was best known for her iconic role as Sandy Olsson alongside John Travolta’s Danny Zuko in 1978’s Grease. In the years afterward, she appeared in films such as Xanadu and It’s My Party, and on TV in shows like Glee.

In addition to her breast cancer advocacy, Newton-John worked with multiple environmental programs. She received her own Australian postage stamp in 2013 and was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2018.

Newton-John is survived by Easterling and her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi.

Photograph by Eva Rinaldi. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Olivia_Newton_John_(6707501475).jpg

Article sources open article sources

Therealonj. Instagram.com. August 8, 2022.
Lindsay Kimble. Olivia Newton-John Dead at 73: The Star and 'Grease' Icon Dies of Breast Cancer. People.com. August 8, 2022.
OliviaNewtonJohn.com. Biography. 2021. Accessed February 9, 2021.
Janine Rubenstein. Olivia Newton-John Opens Up About Recent Health Scare, Death Rumors and How She’s Really Doing with Cancer. People.com. March 6, 2019.
Nicole Pajer. Olivia Newton-John Talks Grease, Her Cancer Diagnosis and the Power of Positivity. Parade. January 18, 2021.
IMDB.com. Olivia Newton-John. 2021. Accessed February 9, 2021.
Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre. Our History. 2021. Accessed February 9, 2021.
Keith Caufield. Olivia Newton-John's Top 20 Biggest Billboard Hits. Billboard.com. September 26, 2016.
American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Breast Cancer. Last Revised: January 12, 2022.
American Cancer Society. How Common Is Breast Cancer? Last Revised: January 12, 2022.
American Cancer Society. Treatment of Recurrent Breast Cancer. Last Revised: October 27, 2021.
American Cancer Society. Survival Rates for Breast Cancer. Last Revised: March 1, 2022.

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