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Olivia Newton-John Bio
Olivia Newton-John, AO, OBE (born 26 September 1948) is an English-Australian singer, songwriter and actress. She is a four-time Grammy award winner who has amassed five number-one and ten other Top Ten Billboard Hot 100 singles, and two number-one Billboard 200 solo albums. Eleven of her singles (including two platinum) and fourteen of her albums (including two platinum and four double platinum) have been certified gold by the RIAA. She has sold an estimated 100 million records, making her one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time. She starred in Grease, which featured one of the most successful soundtracks in Hollywood history.
Newton-John has been a long-time activist for environmental and animal rights issues. Since surviving breast cancer in 1992, she has been an advocate for health awareness becoming involved with various charities, health products and fundraising efforts. Her business interests have included launching several product lines for Koala Blue and co-owning the Gaia Retreat & Spa in Australia.
Early life and beginnings
Newton-John was born in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, to a Welsh father, Brinley “Bryn” Newton-John, and a Berlin-born mother, Irene Helene (née Born), the eldest child of the Nobel Prize-winning atomic physicist Max Born. Her mother’s family had left Germany before World War II to avoid the Nazi regime (Newton-John’s maternal grandfather was Jewish and her maternal grandmother was of paternal Jewish ancestry). She is a third cousin of comedian Ben Elton. Her maternal great-grandfather was jurist Victor Ehrenberg and her matrilineal great-grandmother’s father was jurist Rudolf von Jhering. Newton-John is the youngest of three children, following brother Hugh, a doctor, and sister Rona, an actress who was married to Grease co-star Jeff Conaway from 1980 until their divorce in 1985. Newton-John’s father was an MI5 officer on the Enigma project at Bletchley Park who took Rudolf Hess into custody during the Second World War. In 1954, when she was six, Newton-John’s family emigrated to Melbourne, Australia, where her father worked as a professor of German and as Master of Ormond College at the University of Melbourne.
At fourteen, Newton-John formed a short-lived all-girl group, Sol Four, with three classmates often performing in a coffee shop owned by her brother-in-law. She became a regular on local Australian radio and television shows including HSV-7‘s The Happy Show where she performed as “Lovely Livvy”. She also appeared on the Go Show where she met future duet partner, Pat Carroll, and future music producer John Farrar (Carroll and Farrar would later marry). She entered and won a talent contest on the television program Sing, Sing, Sing, hosted by 1960s Australian icon Johnny O’Keefe, performing the songs “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses“. Newton-John was initially reluctant to use the prize she had won, a trip to Britain, but travelled there nearly a year later after her mother encouraged her to broaden her horizons.
Newton-John recorded her first single, “Till You Say You’ll Be Mine” b/w “Forever”, in Britain for Decca Records in 1966. Newton-John was homesick in Britain for her then-boyfriend, Ian Turpie, with whom she had co-starred in the Australian telefilm, Funny Things Happen Down Under. Newton-John would repeatedly book trips back to Australia that her mother would subsequently cancel. Newton-John’s outlook changed when Pat Carroll also moved to the UK. The two formed a duo called “Pat and Olivia” and toured nightclubs in Europe. (In one incident, they were booked at Paul Raymond’s Revue in Soho, London. Dressed primly in frilly, high-collared dresses, they were unaware that this was a strip club until they began to perform onstage.) After Carroll’s visa expired forcing her to return to Australia, Newton-John remained in Britain to pursue solo work until 1975. She became engaged to the Shadows‘ guitarist Bruce Welch, but they never married.
Newton-John was recruited for the group Toomorrow formed by American producer Don Kirshner, who was also the music consultant for the earliest recordings of the Monkees. In 1970, the group starred in a “science fiction musical” film and recorded an accompanying soundtrack album both named after the group. The project failed and the group disbanded.
Newton-John released her first solo album, If Not For You (No. 158 Pop), in 1971. The title track, written by Bob Dylan and previously recorded by former Beatle George Harrison for his 1970 album All Things Must Pass, was her first international hit (No. 25 Pop, No. 1 Adult Contemporary (“AC”)). Her follow-up single, “Banks of the Ohio“, was a top 10 hit in Great Britain and Australia. She was voted Best British Female Vocalist two years in a row by the magazine Record Mirror. She made frequent appearances on Cliff Richard‘s weekly show, It’s Cliff Richard, and starred with him in the telefilm, The Case.
In 1974, Newton-John represented the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Long Live Love“. The song was chosen for Newton-John by the British public out of six possible entries. (Newton-John later admitted that she disliked the song.) Newton-John placed fourth at the contest held in Brighton behind ABBA‘s winning “Waterloo“. All six Eurovision contest song candidates were recorded by Newton-John and included on her Long Live Love album, her first for the EMI Records label.
In the United States, Newton-John’s career floundered after If Not For You. Subsequent singles including “Banks of the Ohio” (No. 94 Pop, No. 34 AC) and remakes of George Harrison‘s “What Is Life” (No. 34 AC) and John Denver‘s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (No. 119 Pop) made minimal chart impact until the release of “Let Me Be There” in 1973. The song reached the American Top 10 on the Pop (No. 6), Country (No. 7), and AC (No. 3) charts and earned her a Grammy for Best Country Female and an Academy of Country Music award for Most Promising Female Vocalist.
The Long Live Love album was released in the U.S. as If You Love Me, Let Me Know with the six Eurovision songs dropped for four different, more country-oriented tracks intended to capitalise on the success of “Let Me Be There”. The title track was the first single reaching No. 5 Pop, No. 2 Country (her best country placement to date) and No. 2 AC. The next single, “I Honestly Love You“, became Newton-John’s signature song. Written and composed by Jeff Barry and Peter Allen, the ballad became her first number-one Pop (two weeks), second number-one AC (three weeks) and third Top 10 Country (No. 6) hit and earned Newton-John two more Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance-Female. The success of both singles helped the album reach No. 1 on both the Pop (one week) and Country (eight weeks) Albums charts.
Newton-John’s country success sparked a debate among purists, who took issue with a foreigner singing country-flavoured pop music being equated with native Nashville artists. In addition to her Grammy for “Let Me Be There”, Newton-John was also named the Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year in 1974, defeating more established Nashville-based nominees Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Tanya Tucker, as well as Canadian artist Anne Murray. This protest, in part, led to the formation of the short-lived Association of Country Entertainers (ACE). Newton-John was eventually supported by the country music community. Stella Parton, Dolly’s sister, recorded “Ode to Olivia” and Newton-John recorded her 1976 album, Don’t Stop Believin’, in Nashville.
Encouraged by expatriate Australian singer Helen Reddy, Newton-John left the UK and moved to the US. Newton-John topped the Pop (one week) and Country (six weeks) Albums charts with her next album, Have You Never Been Mellow. The album generated two singles – the John Farrar-penned title track (No. 1 Pop, No. 3 Country, No. 1 AC) and “Please Mr. Please” (No. 3 Pop, No. 5 Country, No. 1 AC). Newton-John’s pop career cooled with the release of her next album, Clearly Love. Her streak of five consecutive gold Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 ended when the album’s first single, “Something Better to Do“, stopped at No. 13 (also No. 19 Country and No. 1 AC). Although her albums still achieved gold status, she did not return to the Top 10 on the Hot 100 or Billboard 200 charts again until 1978.
Newton-John’s singles continued to easily top the AC chart, where she ultimately amassed ten No. 1 singles including a record seven consecutively:
- “I Honestly Love You” (1974) – 3 weeks
- “Have You Never Been Mellow” (1975) – 1 week
- “Please Mr. Please” (1975) – 3 weeks
- “Something Better to Do” (1975) – 3 weeks
- “Let It Shine“/”He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” (1976) – 2 weeks
- “Come on Over” (1976) – 1 week
- “Don’t Stop Believin’” (1976) – 1 week
She also provided a prominent, but uncredited, vocal on John Denver‘s “Fly Away” single which was succeeded by her own single, “Let It Shine“/”He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” at No. 1 on the AC chart. (“Fly Away” returned to No. 1 after the two-week reign of “Let It Shine“.) Newton-John also continued to reach the Country Top 10 where she tallied seven Top 10 singles through 1976’s “Come on Over” (No. 23 Pop, No. 5 Country, No. 1 AC) and six consecutive (of a career nine total) Top 10 albums through 1976’s Don’t Stop Believin’ (No. 30 Pop, No. 7 Country). She headlined her first US television special, A Special Olivia Newton-John, in November 1976.
By mid-1977, Newton-John’s AC and country success also began to wane. Her Making a Good Thing Better album (No. 34 Pop, No. 13 Country) failed to be certified gold, and its only single, the title track (No. 87 Pop, No. 20 AC), did not reach even the AC Top 10 or the Country chart. Later that year, Olivia Newton-John’s Greatest Hits (No. 13 Pop, No. 7 Country) became her first platinum album as she prepared to launch a new phase in her career.
In 1979, Olivia Newton-John received the Officer of the Order of the British Empire medal from Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in London.
Newton-John’s career soared after she starred in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Grease in 1978. She was offered the lead role of Sandy after meeting producer Allan Carr at a dinner party at Helen Reddy‘s home. Burned by her Toomorrow experience and concerned that she was too old to play a high school senior (she turned 29 during Grease’s 1977 filming), Newton-John insisted on a screen test with the film’s co-star, John Travolta. The film accommodated Newton-John’s Australian accent by recasting her character from the play’s original American Sandy Dumbrowski to Sandy Olson, an Australian who holidays and then moves with her family to the U.S. Newton-John previewed some of the film’s soundtrack during her second American network television special, Olivia, featuring guests ABBA and Andy Gibb.
Grease became the biggest box-office hit of 1978. The soundtrack album spent 12 non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 and yielded three Top 5 singles for Newton-John: the platinum “You’re The One That I Want” (No. 1 Pop, No. 23 AC) with John Travolta, the gold “Hopelessly Devoted to You” (No. 3 Pop, No. 20 Country, No. 7 AC) and the gold “Summer Nights” (No. 5 Pop, No. 21 AC) with John Travolta and the film’s cast. The former two songs were written and composed by Newton-John’s long-time music producer, John Farrar, specifically for the film. (“Summer Nights” was from the original play written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.) Newton-John became the second woman (after Linda Ronstadt in 1977) to have two singles – “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “Summer Nights” – in the Billboard Top 5 simultaneously. Newton-John’s performance earned her a People’s Choice Award for Favourite Film Actress. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Musical and performed the Oscar-nominated “Hopelessly Devoted to You” at the 1979 Academy Awards.
The film’s popularity has endured through the years. It was re-released for its 20th anniversary in 1998 and ranked as the second highest grossing film behind Titanic in its opening weekend. It was most recently re-released in July 2010 as a sing-along version in select American theatres. The soundtrack still sells strongly enough to often appear on Billboard‘s Top Soundtracks chart.
Lawsuit against UMG
In June 2006, Newton-John’s company ON-J Productions Ltd filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Group for $1 million in unpaid royalties from the “Grease” soundtrack.
Newton-John’s transformation in Grease from goody-goody “Sandy 1” to spandex-clad “Sandy 2” emboldened Newton-John to do the same with her music career. In November 1978, she released her next studio album, Totally Hot, which became her first solo Top 10 (No. 7) album since Have You Never Been Mellow. Dressed on the cover all in leather, the album’s singles “A Little More Love” (No. 3 Pop, No. 94 Country, No. 4 AC), “Deeper than the Night” (No. 11 Pop, No. 87 Country, No. 4 AC), and the title track (No. 52 Pop) all demonstrated a more aggressive and uptempo sound for Newton-John. Although the album de-emphasised country, it still reached No. 4 on the Country Albums chart. Newton-John released the B-side, “Dancin’ ‘Round and ‘Round,” of the “Totally Hot” single to Country radio peaking at No. 29 (as well as No. 82 Pop and No. 25 AC), becoming her last charted solo Country airplay single to date.
Newton-John began 1980 by releasing “I Can’t Help It” (No. 12 Pop, No. 8 AC), a duet with Andy Gibb from his After Dark album, and by starring in her third television special, Hollywood Nights. Later that year, she appeared in her first film since Grease starring in the musical Xanadu with Gene Kelly and Michael Beck. Although the film was a critical failure, its soundtrack (No. 4 Pop) was certified double platinum boasting five Top 20 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Newton-John charted with “Magic” (No. 1 Pop, No. 1 AC), “Suddenly” with Cliff Richard (No. 20 Pop, No. 4 AC) and the title song with the Electric Light Orchestra (No. 8 Pop, No. 2 AC). (The Electric Light Orchestra also charted with “I’m Alive” (No. 16 Pop, No. 48 AC) and “All Over the World” (No. 13 Pop, No. 46 AC).) “Magic” was Newton-John’s biggest Pop hit to that point (four weeks at No. 1) and still ranks as the biggest AC hit of her career (five weeks at No. 1). The film has since become a cult classic and the basis for a well-reviewed Broadway show that ran for more than 500 performances beginning in 2007 and was nominated for four Tony Awards including Best Musical. (A successful international tour of the show followed.)
In 1981 Newton-John released her most successful studio album, the double platinum Physical. The title track, written by Steve Kipner and Terry Shaddick, spent ten weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, matching the then record of most weeks spent at No. 1 in the rock era held by Debby Boone‘s “You Light Up My Life“. The single was certified platinum and it ultimately ranked as the biggest song of the decade. (In 2008, Billboard ranked the song No. 6 among all songs that charted in the 50-year history of the Hot 100.) “Physical” even earned Newton-John her only placement ever on the R&B Singles (No. 28) and Albums (No. 32) chart. The Physical album spawned two more singles, “Make a Move on Me” (No. 5 Pop, No. 6 AC) and “Landslide” (No. 52 Pop).
The provocative lyrics of the “Physical” title track prompted two Utah radio stations to ban the single from their playlists. (In 2010, Billboard magazine ranked this as the most popular single ever about sex.) To counter its overtly suggestive tone, Newton-John filmed an exercise-themed video that turned the song into an aerobics anthem and made headbands a fashion accessory outside the gym. Newton-John became a pioneer in the nascent music video industry by recording a video album for Physical featuring videos of all the album’s tracks and three of her older hits. The video album earned her a fourth Grammy and was aired as an ABC prime time special, Let’s Get Physical, becoming a Top 10 Nielsen hit. The success of Physical led to an international tour and the release of her second hits collection, the double platinum Olivia’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (No. 16 Pop), which yielded two more Top 40 singles: “Heart Attack” (No. 3 Pop) and “Tied Up” (No. 38 Pop). The tour was filmed for her Olivia in Concert television special which premiered on HBO in January 1983. The special was subsequently released to video earning Newton-John another Grammy nomination.
Newton-John re-teamed with Travolta in 1983 for the critically and commercially unsuccessful Two of a Kind, redeemed by its platinum soundtrack (No. 26 Pop) featuring “Twist of Fate” (No. 5 Pop), “Livin’ in Desperate Times” (No. 31 Pop), and a new duet with Travolta, “Take a Chance” (No. 3 AC). Newton-John released another video package, the Grammy-nominated Twist of Fate, featuring videos of her four songs on the Two of a Kind soundtrack and the two new singles from Olivia’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2.
That same year Newton-John and Pat Carroll founded Koala Blue. The store, originally for Australian imports, evolved into a chain of women’s clothing boutiques. The chain was initially successful, but it eventually declared bankruptcy and closed in 1992. Newton-John and Farrar would later license the brand name for a line of Australian produced wines, confections, and bed/bath products.
Newton-John married her long-time boyfriend, actor Matt Lattanzi, in December 1984; they divorced in 1995. The couple had met four years earlier while filming Xanadu. Their daughter, Chloe Rose Lattanzi, was born in January 1986.
Newton-John’s music career cooled again with the release of her next studio album, the gold Soul Kiss (No. 29 Pop), in 1985. The album’s only charted single was the title track (No. 20 Pop, No. 20 AC). Due to her pregnancy, Newton-John limited her publicity for the album. The video album for Soul Kiss featured only five of the album’s ten tracks (concept videos for the album’s singles “Soul Kiss” and “Toughen Up” as well as performance videos of the tracks “Culture Shock”, “Emotional Tangle” and “The Right Moment”).
Motherhood and advocacy
After a nearly three-year hiatus following the birth of Chloe, Newton-John resumed her recording career with the 1988 album, The Rumour. The album was promoted by an HBO special, Olivia Down Under, and its first single, the title track, was written and produced by Elton John. Both the single (No. 62 Pop, No. 33 AC) and the album (No. 67 Pop) fizzled as the nearly 40-year-old Newton-John seemed “old” when compared with the teen queens Debbie Gibson and Tiffany ruling the Pop charts at that time. (Ironically, this album was praised by critics as more mature with Newton-John addressing topics such as AIDS, the environment and single-parent households.) The second single, “Can’t We Talk It Over in Bed”, did not chart, but was released in 1989 by Grayson Hugh, the song’s arranger, as “Talk It Over” becoming a Top 20 Pop hit. A year later, Newton-John recorded her self-described “self-indulgent” album, Warm and Tender. Inspired by her daughter, who appeared on the album cover, the album featured lullabies and love songs for parents and their children. This album, the last one produced by John Farrar, also failed to revive her recording career struggling to No. 124 Pop.
Newton-John was primed for another comeback in 1992 when she compiled her third hits collection, Back to Basics – The Essential Collection 1971–1992, and planned her first tour since her Physical trek ten years earlier. Shortly after the album’s release, Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer forcing her to cancel all publicity for the album including the tour. (Newton-John received her diagnosis the same weekend her father died.) Newton-John recovered and since became an advocate for breast cancer research and other health issues. She is a product spokesperson for the Liv-Kit, a breast self-examination product. She is also partial owner of the Gaia Retreat and Spa in Byron Bay, Australia.
Newton-John’s advocacy for health issues was presaged by her prior involvement with many humanitarian causes. Newton-John cancelled a 1978 concert tour of Japan to protest the slaughter of dolphins caught in tuna fishing nets. (She subsequently rescheduled the tour when the Japanese government assured her the matter was being addressed.) She was a performer on the 1979 Music for UNICEF Concert for the UN’ International Year of the Child televised worldwide. During the concert, artists performed songs for which they donated their royalties, some in perpetuity, to benefit the cause. She was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Environment Programme. In 1991, she became the National Spokesperson for the Colette Chuda Environmental Fund/CHEC (Children’s Health Environmental Coalition) following the death of four-year-old Colette Chuda, a family friend, from cancer. (Chuda was featured along with Newton-John and daughter Chloe on the cover of Newton-John’s Warm and Tender album.)
Newton-John’s cancer diagnosis also affected the type of music she recorded. In 1994, she released Gaia: One Woman’s Journey which chronicled her ordeal. This was the first album on which Newton-John wrote all of the songs encouraging her to become more active as a songwriter thereafter. In 2005, she released Stronger Than Before, sold exclusively in the U.S. by Hallmark. Proceeds from the album’s sales benefited breast cancer research. The album featured the song “Phenomenal Woman” based on the poem by Maya Angelou that featured guest vocals from Diahann Carroll, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Delta Goodrem, Amy Holland, Patti LaBelle and Mindy Smith – all survivors of or affected by cancer.
The following year, Newton-John released a healing CD, Grace and Gratitude. The album was sold exclusively by Walgreens also benefitting various charities including Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization. The CD was the “heart” of their Body – Heart – Spirit Wellness Collection which also featured a re-branded Liv-Kit and breast-health dietary supplements. Newton-John re-recorded some tracks from Grace and Gratitude in 2010 and re-released the album as Grace and Gratitude Renewed on the Green Hill music label. The Renewed CD includes a new track, “Help Me to Heal,” not featured on the original album. The Renewed CD yielded Newton-John’s first appearances on the Billboard Christian Albums (No. 36), Christian & Gospel Albums (No. 54) and New Age Albums (No. 2) charts.
In 2008, Newton-John raised funds to help build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia. She led a three-week, 228 km. walk along the Great Wall of China during April joined by various celebrities and cancer survivors throughout her trek. The walk symbolised the steps cancer patients must take on their road to recovery. Newton-John released a companion CD, A Celebration in Song, the following month in Australia and later worldwide featuring new and previously recorded duets by “Olivia Newton-John & Friends.” Her “Friends” included Jann Arden, Jimmy Barnes, John Farrar, Barry Gibb, Delta Goodrem, Sun Ho, Richard Marx, Cliff Richard, Melinda Schneider, Amy Sky and Keith Urban. (The album was re-released by Green Hill Records with different artwork in 2011.) In October, Newton-John helped launch the www.liv.com website and teamed with fitness franchise Curves to distribute one million Liv-Aid breast self-examination aids for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Newton-John collaborated with producer David Foster to record “Hope Is Always Here” for the November 2009 television special, Kaleidoscope. The song was written and composed for the show’s performance by another breast cancer survivor, figure skater Dorothy Hamill. The song was released as a digital single after the show aired.
Newton-John was featured in UniGlobe Entertainment’s breast cancer docu-drama, 1 a Minute, released in October 2010. The documentary was made by actress Namrata Singh Gujral and featured other celebrities who survived breast cancer or who were affected by the disease. During the same month, Bluewater Productions released a comic book featuring Newton-John to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Newton-John continued to record and perform pop-oriented music as well. In 1998, she returned to Nashville to record Back with a Heart (No. 59 Pop). The album returned her to the Top 10 (No. 9) on the Country Albums chart. Its first single was a re-recording of “I Honestly Love You” produced by David Foster and featuring Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds on background vocals that charted Pop (No. 67) and AC (No. 18). Country radio dismissed the song, though it did peak at No. 16 on the Country Sales chart. The album track, “Love Is a Gift,” won Newton-John a 1999 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Song after being featured on the daytime serial, As the World Turns.
Newton-John’s subsequent secular albums were released primarily in Australia. Newton-John, John Farnham and Anthony Warlow toured Australia as The Main Event. The live album won an ARIA Award for Highest Selling Australian CD and was also nominated for Best Adult Contemporary Album. She and Farnham performed “Dare to Dream” at the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. In 2002, Newton-John released (2), a duets album featuring mostly Australian artists (Tina Arena, Darren Hayes, Jimmy Little, Johnny O’Keefe, Billy Thorpe, Keith Urban) as well as a heartfelt “duet” with the deceased Peter Allen. The same year, Newton-John was inducted into Australia’s ARIA Hall of Fame. Indigo: Women of Song, a tribute album covering songs by artists such as Joan Baez, the Carpenters, Doris Day, Nina Simone, Minnie Riperton and others, was released in 2004. Newton-John dedicated the album to her mother, who had died the previous year.
Newton-John also released several Christmas albums. In 2000, she teamed with Vince Gill and the London Symphony Orchestra for ‘Tis the Season sold exclusively through Hallmark. The following year, she released The Christmas Collection which compiled seasonal music previously recorded for her Hallmark Christmas album, her appearance on Kenny Loggins‘ 1999 TNN Christmas special and her contributions to the Mother and Child and Spirit of Christmas multi-artist collections. (Green Hill Records re-released this album with different artwork in 2010.) In 2007, she re-teamed with her Grace and Gratitude producer, Amy Sky, for Christmas Wish (No. 187 Pop) which was sold exclusively by Target in its first year of release.
Newton-John acted occasionally since Two of a Kind. She appeared in a supporting role in the 1996 AIDS drama, It’s My Party. In 2000, she appeared in a dramatically different role as Bitsy Mae Harling, a lesbian ex-con country singer, in Del Shores‘ Sordid Lives. Newton-John reprised her role for Sordid Lives: The Series which aired one season on the LOGO television network. The series featured five original songs written and composed by Newton-John specifically for the show. In 2010, Newton-John starred in the film Score: A Hockey Musical, released in Canada. Newton-John portrayed Hope Gordon, the mother of a home-schooled hockey prodigy. The film opened the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.
During October–December 1998, Newton-John, John Farnham and Anthony Warlow performed in The Main Event Tour. The album Highlights from The Main Event peaked at No. 1 in December, sold 4× platinum, and won ‘Highest Selling Album’ at the 1999 ARIA Awards. The Main Event concert was broadcast on national TV and released on video.
For the 2000 Summer Olympics, Newton-John and John Farnham performed “Dare to Dream” during the Parade of Nations at the Opening Ceremony. Broadcast of the ceremony was viewed by an estimated 3.5 billion people around the world.
Newton-John’s television work included starring in two Christmas films, A mother for Christmas (1990) and A Christmas Romance (1994) – both Top 10 Nielsen hits. Her daughter, Chloe, starred as one of her children in both A Christmas Romance and in the 2001 Showtime film The Wilde Girls. Newton-John guest-starred as herself in the sitcoms Ned and Stacey, Murphy Brown, and Bette, and made two appearances as herself on Glee. For her first Glee appearance, Newton-John re-created her “Physical” video with series regular Jane Lynch. The performance was released as a digital single, returning Newton-John to the Billboard Hot 100 (No. 89) for the first time since her 1998 re-release of “I Honestly Love You“. In Australia, Newton-John hosted the animal and nature series Wild Life and guest starred as Joanna on two episodes of the Australian series The Man From Snowy River.
Newton-John met gaffer/cameraman Patrick McDermott a year after her 1995 divorce from Matt Lattanzi. The couple dated on and off for nine years. McDermott disappeared following a 2005 fishing trip off the Californian coast. Various theories abounded regarding his disappearance ranging from his death by accident or foul play to McDermott staging his disappearance to avoid child support payments to his ex-wife, actress Yvette Nipar. Newton-John, who was in Australia at her Gaia Retreat & Spa at the time of his disappearance, was never a suspect in McDermott’s disappearance and has refused to comment on any speculation. A US Coast Guard investigation released in 2008 “suggest[ed] McDermott was lost at sea,” although some have claimed contact with McDermott since his disappearance.
Newton-John returned to the tabloid headlines again in 2007 when it was revealed that her daughter Chloe was recovering from anorexia.
Newton-John released another concert DVD, Olivia Newton-John and the Sydney Symphony: Live at the Sydney Opera House, and a companion CD, Olivia’s Live Hits, in January 2008. An edited version of the DVD premiered on PBS station, WLIW (Garden City, New York), in October 2007 and subsequently aired nationally during the network’s fund-raising pledge drives. This was Newton-John’s third live album after the 1981 Japanese release, Love Performance, and her 2000 Australian release, One Woman’s Live Journey.
In June 2008, Newton-John secretly wed John (“Amazon John”) Easterling, founder and president of natural remedy firm, Amazon Herb Company. The couple had first met 15 years earlier, but they only became romantically involved in 2007. (Like Newton-John, this was Easterling’s second marriage.) The couple married alone in a private Incan spiritual ceremony in Cuzco, Peru on 21 June followed nine days later by a legal ceremony on the Jupiter Island beachfront in Florida. There were no guests at either service since the couple preferred to marry simply and privately. Only Newton-John’s daughter, Chloe, was aware of the nuptials. The couple did not announce their marriage until a 4 July barbecue at Newton-John’s Malibu, California home, where guests were surprised with the news. The wedding was confirmed thereafter by HELLO! Magazine which published exclusive pictures of both weddings. In June 2009, the Easterlings purchased a new $4.1 million home in Jupiter Inlet, and Newton-John sold her home in Malibu, California.
Newton-John still actively tours. An Australian Tour of Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, and the U.S. as well, treating fans to songs that she had never performed in concert before. She was also planning her first concerts in the UK in over 30 years, for 2013.
In November 2012, Newton-John teamed with John Travolta to make the charity album This Christmas, in support of The Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre and the Jett Travolta Foundation. Artists featured on the album include: Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, Chick Corea, Kenny G, Tony Bennett, Cliff Richard and the Count Basie Orchestra. In March 2013 she toured the UK performing in Bournemouth, London, Brighton, Birmingham and Manchester.
A 2013 residency at the Flamingo Las Vegas was postponed because of her sister’s death, but resumed with 45 shows beginning in April 2014. In conjunction with the upcoming Vegas shows, Newton-John released a new EP in April 2014 entitled Hotel Sessions, which consisted of seven tracks of unreleased demos that were recorded between 2002 and 2011 with her nephew Brett. The CD contains a cover of “Broken Wings” as well as the popular-with-fans original “Best of My Love”, which had leaked on the internet many years prior.
In 2015, Newton-John was a guest judge on an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. That same year, she scored her first number-one single on Billboard‘s Dance Club Songs chart with “You Have To Believe” with daughter Chloe and producer Dave Aude. The song was a re-imaging of her 1980 single “Magic”, which she notes was to celebrate both the 35th anniversary of Xanadu and as a dedication to her daughter, stating “I met Chloe’s dad on the set of Xanadu, so, without that film, Chloe wouldn’t be here. She was the real ‘magic’ that came out of that film!” The song became the first mother-daughter single to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart.
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