Olivia Newton-John, the last dance
In “Grease”, with John Travolta they formed a mythical and twirling couple. At 73, this eternal fighter lost her last fight against illness.
What do Jacques Chirac and Olivia Newton John ? Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer. If the former president spent the war, then many stays, in this charming town on the Côte d’Azur, the actress-singer went there on vacation. About twenty years ago, recognized by onlookers on the Tropicana beach, she had accepted the same evening to participate in karaoke organized by a local restaurant, the Maurin des Maures. And what did the stunned participants ask him in chorus? The tube of “Grease”, of course!
Olivia Newton-John, accompanied by her nephew and her niece, ran without complaining, with a smile on her face, to interpret “You’re the One That I Want” on the microphone. Everyone purred with pleasure, “ouh ouh ouh”… “Grease”, again and forever, a long and yet powerful, unforgettable film, which propelled the actress to the rank of international star. When this musical came out in 1978, John Travolta was already a star, he had just triumphed in “Saturday Night Fever”, a film produced by Australian Robert Stigwood. How not to feel the desire to prolong such a success? Stigwood rehired the feline Travolta to play Danny Zuko, a slicked-back, tough, soft-hearted faux pas. And chooses Olivia Newton-John to face this block of sensual magnetism.
What do Jacques Chirac and Olivia Newton-John have in common? Rayol-Canadel-sur-Mer
Olivia Newton-John was no beginner. Star of TV shows, she had had a few hits across the Atlantic, thanks to country songs in particular, a strange thing when you know her origins, Englishwoman raised in Melbourne from her early childhood. She had represented the United Kingdom at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, to finish in fourth place, beaten by Swedes, guys and girls cast in sequined costumes, the certain Abba… At 29, in 1977, she found strange to imitate a silly and annoying high school girl. Stigwood arranges a test reading between her and Travolta.
Obvious chemistry, the two crackle with light, explode on the screen. Newton-John accepts the role of Sandy Olsson, a noodle blonde who emancipates. She was right. This film where adults play teenagers distills a kind of magic, and remarkable pop songs. The passage from childhood to the age of reason works, the end of youth is charming and nostalgic. Never again will she know such an apotheosis: three number 1 songs at the box office, thousands of magazine covers, fans from all countries who copy her looks, wise or wanton. Finally, there will still be in 1981 the huge tube “Physical”, with rather warm lyrics, counterbalanced by an innocent clip where she practices exercises, to make believe that all this is only about sport.
“I had a panic attack because I thought I was going too far, hence the idea for such a video. It only made the situation worse!” she had fun in 2017. The feature film that definitely plunges her filmography into obscurity is called “Xanadu”. Nothing to do with “Citizen Kane”… The turnip associates it with Gene Kelly, beautiful poster, sad object. Newton-John was not a tragic actress, nor a great actress, but her freshness, her doll’s body, her vitality could serve a character in a romantic comedy. There were attempts to recreate the duet with Travolta, in 1983, in “Second Chance”. Apart from the soundtrack, an uninteresting miss.
His first cancer was declared in 1992, his daughter Chloe was 6 years old
What was not on the other hand: the friendship which bound them during forty-five years, John and her. “When you share this kind of meteoric success, which nothing can match, you create a deep bond, he underlined in 2018. I saw her have a child, divorce, lose her sister. She saw me get married and become a father. It’s wonderful, a life filled with memories together.” His pain needs to be rekindled, he who lost his first love, then his wife, Kelly, to breast cancer.
If Newton-John has not always had great roles, has sometimes strayed into bad business – a network of shops in which she had invested went bankrupt – she fought the disease as best she could, becoming a door- effective and warm words from cancer victims. The first occurred in 1992; she was 44 years old, her daughter Chloe Lattanzi was only 6 years old. She is undergoing a mastectomy. The way of the cross was paved with long periods of remission, before the return of the filth, once, then a second, in 2017.
In the meantime, she had become an idol in Australia where her singing tours filled halls, such as in Las Vegas. And she lived an incredible drama. Her cameraman fiancé, crippled with debt, disappeared at sea in 2005, off the coast of California. Worried, she had launched calls for witnesses, before believing him dead, and that we did not find him, years later, very much alive in Mexico… She had remarried in 2008 to the businessman John Easterling, herbal therapist and founder of a natural products recycling company. He had grown medical cannabis on their California ranch to relieve Olivia after the heavy treatment sessions. This is where the eternal Sandy died.