The film and music industry have been rocked by the news that Grease star Olivia Newton-John has died, aged 73.
Actor, singer and campaigner Newton-John, who appeared as the sweet, kind Sandy opposite John Travolta’s bad boy Danny in the 1978 hit, died of breast cancer. She was first diagnosed in 1992, and the cancer kept on returning over the past three decades.
Her husband, John Easterling, announced the news on Monday (8 August), stating that she “passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends”.
Many of Newton-John’s Grease co-stars have paid tribute to the icon after her death. Travolta posted a photograph of the actor on Instagram, with the words: “My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible. 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!”
Stockard Channing – who played Pink Lady Betty Rizzo – shared a heartfelt tribute, telling People magazine: “I don’t know if I’ve known a lovelier human being. Olivia was the essence of summer – her sunniness, her warmth and her grace are what always come to mind when I think of her. I will miss her enormously.”
Dinah Manoff, who portrayed Marty Maraschino in the film, also told the publication: “As many will tell you, Olivia Newton-John was one of the kindest, most generous souls ever to grace the earth, and I was one lucky Pink Lady to have spent time with her during the filming of Grease.
“She brought light and laughter wherever she went. My deepest condolences to her family and friends during their time of great loss.”
Barry Pearl, who played Frenchy’s boyfriend “Doody”, gave a tearful interview about Newton-John on Australian breakfast TV.
“I had just written to Olivia, this was about a week or so ago,” he said on the Today show. The actor said he’d heard from a colleague that the star was “failing again” and “it wasn’t going to be long” until she died.
“I took it upon myself to write to her… She would always sign her emails, ‘With love and light, Olivia.’ And I wrote to her – basically if you read between the lines she would be able to tell that I knew there was something going on – and I basically said that, ‘On your journey forward, simply know that you, Olivia, are the love and the light.’”
He added: “She just always exuded that positivity. Just the way she handled this journey with grace. Her heart was so big.”
Michael Tucci, who portrayed T-Birds member Sonny, told E! News that Newton-John was “so very special”.
“She was a treasure to me and my family,” he said. “She was so incredibly sweet and gracious to everyone she encountered. I grieve for her family, and for John [Travolta].”
Lorenzo Lamas, who played the captain of Rydell’s football team Tom Chisum, said Newton-John was gone “much too soon”.
“My heart is heavy,” he said. “Olivia was such a special human being. An inspiration to millions battling this dreadful disease with courage and grace.”