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Born in England in 1948, Olivia Newton-John performed in clubs and on television in England in the '60s, but became an international star after playing Sandy in the film Grease. A Grammy Award-winning musician, Newton-John recorded hits like "I Honestly Love You" and "Let's Get Physical." She survived breast cancer in the '90s and helped raise awareness and research funding.
Born on September 26, 1948, in Cambridge, England, Olivia Newton-John was raised in Melbourne, Australia. Perhaps best known for playing the squeaky clean Sandy in the movie musical Grease, she got her start as a singer in her teens. Newton-John went to England in the mid-1960s and performed in clubs and on television.
In the mid-1970s, Newton-John made a splash in the United States with her third solo album. The song "Let Me Be There" from that album won her the Grammy Award for best country female vocal performance—her first. More awards and successful albums followed. She scored hits on the country and pop charts with "Have You Never Been Mellow" and "I Honestly Love You," which won the 1974 Grammy Award for record of the year.
The release of the film adaptation of the successful Broadway musical Grease in 1978 made Newton-John an international star. Set in the 1950s, the film told the story of two teenagers in love from two different social worlds. Newton-John portrayed the virtuous cheerleader Sandy opposite John Travolta in the role of Danny, a rough-around-the-edges, but tender greaser. Audiences fell for the fun, catchy music, engaging storyline, and appealing performances. It became one of the most successful musicals in movie history.
Unfortunately, Newton-John was unable to replicate her earlier success with her next film, Xanadu (1980). An attempt to cash in two popular trends of the time—roller skating and disco, the movie bombed, but the soundtrack did well. Newton-John hit the charts again with the song "Magic." Newton-John changed her image for her next album, Physical (1981), going for a more sexy, athletic look; it featured the hit single "Let's Get Physical."
While she continued making albums in the mid-1980s, Newton-John's musical career quieted down. She focused on other aspects of her life, including starting a chain of clothing stores called Koala Blue, and starting a family. She had a daughter, Chloe Rose, in 1986 with husband Matt Lattanzi.
Olivia Newton-John's life took a dramatic turn in 1992. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. She battled the disease using chemotherapy and getting a partial mastectomy. She recovered and went on to record Gaia (1994). But Newton-John experienced another kind of hardship in 1995. She and her husband announced their separation that April.
Back in the spotlight for the twentieth anniversary of the release of Grease, Newton-John released Back with a Heart in 1998. The album featured a new version of her classic hit "I Honestly Love You."
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