ENTERTAINMENT- Olivia Newton-John, who gained worldwide acclaim for her starring role in "Grease," died Monday morning at age 73, according to her family.
"Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends," her family wrote in a statement shared on social media. "We ask that everyone please respect the family's privacy during this very difficult time."
"Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer," the statement continued.
Originally diagnosed with breast cancer in the '90s, Newton-John was in remission for more than 20 years before it returned in 2013. She revealed in 2018 that the disease returned and metastasized to her spine.
A singer, songwriter, actress, and activist, Newton-John, the granddaughter of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born was born in 1948 in Cambridge, England. When she was 5, her family relocated to Melbourne, Australia, and by her teens, she'd landed her big break, winning a talent contest on the TV show "Sing, Sing, Sing."
By 1966, Newton-John had signed a deal with Decca Records, but her major breakthrough wouldn't come until 1973, with the country-flavored hit "Let Me Be There." That same year, the Academy of Country Music named her its most promising female vocalist, and in 1974, the Country Music Association agreed, crowning her its female vocalist of the year.
The next year, the singer's career would gravitate more toward pop, as she released one of her signature songs. "I Honestly Love You," which won Grammys for record of the year and best female pop vocal performance in 1974.
Generations of fans -- particularly young girls -- would come to identify with Newton-John as she took on her most iconic film role in 1978, playing Sandy alongside John Travolta's Danny Zuko in the big-screen adaptation of the musical "Grease." The two would become one of cinema's most beloved couples, performing the duets "You're the One That I Want" and "Summer Nights" together. Newton-John added to her solo staples with "Hopelessly Devoted to You."
In 1980, Newton-John teamed with the legendary Gene Kelly for the roller-skating fantasy "Xanadu." The movie became a cult classic and also gave the actress another chart-topping hit from its double-platinum soundtrack. Newton-John and Travolta rekindled their onscreen romance for "Two of a Kind" in 1983, and while the film wasn't successful, once again, the actress' music was. The soundtrack went platinum, and "Twist of Fate" was a top-five hit.
On the small screen, Newton-John would become a music-video pioneer, turning her super-sexy single "Physical" into a campy romp through saunas, aerobics, and workout rooms, alternating ultra-fit male models with an out-of-shape every-man who could lose a few pounds. The clip propelled the song to 10 weeks at the top of the chart, and "Physical" won the 1982 Grammy for video of the year.
Newton-John charted many No. 1 hits throughout her career and sold more than 100 million albums, continuing to work right up until the recurrence of her cancer forced her to postpone her 2017 tour. Earlier, she staged a well-received Las Vegas residency at the Flamingo for two years, starting in the spring of 2014.
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