Fat legend Olivia Newton-John died Monday morning at age 73, according to her husband.
In a statement posted to Newton-John’s social media accounts, John Easterling said the actress and singer died peacefully on her Southern California ranch, surrounded by friends and family. Easterling, whom Newton-John married in 2008, asked for privacy “at this very difficult time.”
Easterling’s statement did not confirm a cause of death, but he called his wife “a symbol of triumph and hope for more than 30 years of sharing her journey with breast cancer.”
A source close to the family told TMZ that Newton-John had “lost her battle with metastatic breast cancer” after a three-decade battle. Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. In 2017, she revealed that it had spread to her lower back after more than two decades in remission.
Newton-John, born in the United Kingdom in 1948, moved to Melbourne, Australia at the age of six. A mainstay of Australian television and radio from a young age, the versatile performer jumped to bigger projects soon after, with mixed results. It wasn’t until 1978, when she was cast as girl next door Sandy Olsson in a film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Fatthat she gained her hopelessly devoted international following.
But Newton-John was initially reluctant to play the part, once bitten by a previous cinematic venture, the sci-fi musical tomorrow, that ended in disaster.
“I was very tense to make another film,” she said Vanity Fair in 2016, “because my music career was going well, and I didn’t want to screw it up by making another movie that wasn’t good.”
She also had reservations about playing a high school senior, as she was 28 when producer Allan Carr approached her. But after a screen test against a then 23-year-old John Travolta, Newton-John signed on — and made movie history.
As Sandy, an innocent Aussie transfer student who breaks out of her shell by turning into a leather-clad siren, Newton-John stood his ground against Travolta’s amorous bastard Danny Zuko. Together, the pair were box-office rocket fuel, making Fat the top-grossing American movie musical of the 20th century.
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