The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

John Travolta, Dionne Warwick and more remember Olivia Newton-John

Singer and actress Olivia Newton-John, who reached super-stardom in 1978 for playing Sandy in “Grease,” died on Aug. 8. (Video: Nicki DeMarco, Allie Caren/The Washington Post)
3 min

Celebrities flocked to social media with personal anecdotes and photos to remember Olivia Newton-John, the Australian actress and pop singer who died Monday at 73. Best known for 1978’s “Grease,” as well as her robust musical career, Newton-John spent her later years advocating for cancer research.

Newton-John was first diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in 1992. She was in remission until 2013, when the disease returned, and years later announced it had metastasized to her spine. A family statement posted Monday afternoon to Newton-John’s Facebook page emphasized how open she was about her breast cancer journey. It described her as a “symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years.”

That very sentiment echoed across social media. John Travolta, who played Danny Zuko opposite Newton-John’s Sandy Olsson in “Grease,” shared a photo on Instagram in honor of his “dearest Olivia.”

“Your impact was incredible,” he wrote. “I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”

Barbra Streisand, who once featured on Newton-John and Travolta’s Christmas album, posted an old photo to Instagram of herself alongside Newton-John and singer and record producer Lou Rawls.

“Too young to leave this world. May she RIP,” Streisand wrote in the caption, adding a tearful emoji.

Olivia Newton-John, pop singer and ‘Grease’ star, dies at 73

Dionne Warwick tweeted, “Another angelic voice has been added to the Heavenly Choir,” noting that her “dear friend” was also “once of the nicest people I had the pleasure of recording and performing with.”

Singer-songwriter Richard Marx, a close friend of Newton-John’s who also collaborated with her on music, wrote on Twitter that she was “as kind and loving a person as there’s ever been.”

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd described her as “a great Australian woman” and “great advocate for global cancer research.”

Fans and celebrities alike made note of the four-time Grammy winner’s status as a musical icon, particularly throughout the 1970s and ’80s.

“Hopelessly Devoted to YOU, Olivia Newton John. Rest In Peace, Queen. Thank you for the music,” late-night host Andy Cohen captioned an Instagram video of her performing the “Grease” hit.

Comedian Kathy Griffin, sharing a video clip of an outlandish afternoon tea she once shared with Newton-John, wrote on Twitter that the singer-actress “rolled with EVERYTHING.”

Director James Gunn and actor Daniel Dae Kim described her as their first crushes, while comedian Billy Eichner called her “one of my first pop obsessions.”

Writer and romance novelist Bolu Babalola tweeted that Newton-John was “so charming and so beautiful with this spark within a veneer of a girl-next-door. One of the first romance leads I felt affinity to.”

Actor George Takei, referencing Newton-John’s 1980 musical fantasy film, wrote on Twitter that she is “now in the great Xanadu beyond.”

More tributes to Newton-John below: