An icon is gone. Olivia Newton-John, who shot to superstardom in the ’70s and remain a global icon for decades after, passed away on August 8 at the age of 73. After three decades battling breast cancer, the musician and actress passed away peacefully at her home, surrounded by family and friends. She perhaps was known best the world over as Sandy from Grease, the 1978 movie musical that made her a household name. After her passing, those who worked with her on the film paid tribute to their costar and friend in sweet tributes
They’ll always be known as Danny and Sandy, as John Travolta played Olivia’s lovesick summer romance in the hit ’78 flick. Shortly after her passing, John took to Instagram to say goodbye to his friend of nearly 50 years. “My dearest Olivia,” he wrote, “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!”
Edith ‘Didi’ Conn
Edith “Didi” Conn, the actress who played Frenchy in the 1978 film, told Good Morning America that she spoke with Olivia a few weeks before she died. “She told me that she wasn’t walking anymore and she had full-time care,” said Didi, “but her husband, John [Easterling], and her daughter, Chloe [Lattanzi], were there all the time and she told me they were just so hopelessly devoted.”
“Her husband, John, and her daughter, Chloe, were there all the time and she told me they were just so hopelessly devoted…”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 9, 2022
“I think I will remember her singing,” Didi added. “She would put her hands out to her audience and sing ‘I Honestly Love You’ and I think that’s how I’ll always remember her—this big heart. And we will honestly always love her, too.”
Stockard Channing, now 78, played sassy rebel Betty Rizzo in the film. Her rep provided HollywoodLife with her statement on Olivia’s passing. “I don’t know if I’ve known a lovelier human being,” she said. “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.”
Barry, 72, played Frenchie’s boyfriend in the iconic film, and he was nothing short of devastated in an interview aired on Today, per The Daily Mail. “I had just written to Olivia, this was about a week or so ago,” he said, breaking down in tears as he remembered her as a “light.” Barry, who has since appeared in Criminal Minds and Baywatch, then indicated that he’d been told “it wasn’t going to be long” before Olivia passed.
So, he said, “I took it upon myself to write to her, as we would occasionally share emails amongst each other – [with] the other Grease-er pals too. 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 continued.
“She just always exuded that positivity,” Barry concluded. “Just the way she handled this journey with grace. Her heart was so big.”
Julianne Hough didn’t appear in the original 1978 Grease — but she does hold the distinction of taking on the iconic role of Sandy in the 2016 TV movie Grease Live! And she’s made no secret of the fact that she held Olivia in the highest regard. The Footloose star took to Instagram to share her tribute with her 5M followers.
“Like so many, Olivia has always been my hero,” she captioned a collection of photos on August 8, including several alongside Olivia herself. “Discovering her magnetic energy as an artist and actress came first but it was her heart that truly captured mine. Forever an icon and legend!”
Julianne followed up the post with a video clip of her singing “Hopelessly Devoted” in the remake. “Forever honored to have been able to sing this song,” she captioned the clip, alongside a heart emoji.Click to Subscribe to Get Our Free HollywoodLife Daily Newsletter to get the hottest celeb news.