‘We couldn’t date – but we wanted to’: Olivia Newton-John admitted to INTENSE ‘magical’ attraction to Grease co-star John Travolta and claimed he told her she ‘could do better on set’
- In extracts unearthed from the 2019 tome, the actress, who died from breast cancer aged 73, on Monday claims that loyalty to their partners meant they could never hook up
- And Olivia said that such was John’s kindness that he purposely messed up a scene on 1977 movie, Grease so they could shoot it again because he knew she could ‘do better’
- The pair famously played Danny Zuko and Australian transfer student Sandy Olsson, who develop an attraction for each other during a summer romance
- John had recommended her for the role and Olivia said that when they met on the set at Paramount in LA, the chemistry was undeniable
- In the book, Olivia said she was keen to set the record straight about whether or not she ever dated John. ‘On the Grease set, he would tell me. “Liv, it’s every guy’s dream to have you as his girlfriend”
- She said: ‘Yes, we really liked each other and there was an attraction, but we would never date because we were both involved with other people at the time and both of us have a loyalty streak that runs deep
- And John remembered: ‘It almost happened between us a few times , but it didn’t. Sometimes life just offers you the wrong timing. We had to leave it as dear friends’
- Read more: Olivia looks ethereal in previously unseen images from 1975 concert released following her death
Olivia Newton-John detailed her intense attraction to Grease co-star John Travolta in her book Don’t Stop Believin’ and admitted why they didn’t ever get together.
In extracts unearthed from the 2019 tome, the actress, who died from breast cancer aged 73, on Monday claims that loyalty to their partners meant they could never hook up.
And Olivia said that such was John’s kindness that he purposely messed up a scene on 1977 movie, Grease so they could shoot it again because he knew she could ‘do better.’
The pair famously played Danny Zuko and Australian transfer student Sandy Olsson, who develop an attraction for each other during a summer romance.
Sandy finds herself at Danny’s school and decides to change her attitude and look to impress him, turning up in those iconic black sharkskin pants which she was sewn into each morning.
The reason for this was because the zipper had broken but costume designer Albert Wolsky didn’t want to risk ripping them by putting in a new one.
‘We couldn’t date – but we wanted to: Olivia Newton-John admitted to an INTENSE ‘magical’ attraction to Grease co-star John Travolta in her 2019 book Don’t Stop Believin’ and claimed he told her she ‘could do better on set’ (pictured on 1978 movie)
Changing it up: Olivia has always said she was reluctant to take on the role of a student as a 28-year-old actress and she couldn’t do an American accent. So producer Allan Carr allowed her to be an Australian transfer student (pictured on the cover of her book in 2019)
She said: ‘What if I need to pee? What am I going to do?’
Olivia said the feeling between herself and John was electric and when she walked on set with her curly hair, red lipstick and tight trousers, he reacted as she wanted.
She wrote: ‘There were gasps, catcalls and a lot of whistling. John was filming the song Sandy and I strutted on set.
‘He stopped singing mid-note, as his head jerked up and his eyes popped.
‘”Tell me more, tell me more,” he shouted. We laughed so hard. It was exactly the reaction I wanted.’
Back in time: The pair reunited at the Meet n’ Grease movie sing-a-long event in Florida in 2019 and snapped back into character – Olivia writes in her book that while they had chemistry, they never dated because they had partners
All in a day’s work: Olivia revealed she had to be sewn into her sharkskin trousers because the zipper had broken and she was worried about how she would go to the toilet – she said she ‘got the reaction she wanted’ from John when he saw the look
Olivia has always said she was reluctant to take on the role as a 28-year-old actress and she couldn’t do an American accent.
So producer Allan Carr allowed her to be an Australian transfer student.
John, then aged 23, now aged 68, had recommended her for the role and Olivia said that when they met on the set at Paramount in LA, the chemistry was undeniable.
Olivia said: ‘John came out to meet me. Our eyes met. When we walked inside the room together, it was magic, and everyone saw it. They couldn’t deny this kind of chemistry,’
She also revealed just how protective John was of her.
During that big bonfire scene, John purposely walked in front of the camera.
He said: ‘Sorry I messed up. Liv, I did that on purpose because I don’t want them to use that take. I know you can do better.
‘I had great love and support from him and the feeling was mutual. I would be forever grateful for his concern.’
In the book, Olivia said she was keen to set the record straight about whether or not she ever dated John.
Thank goodness: Olivia was 28 when she filmed the iconic film (pictured left) – she was worried she was too old for the role but she knew she had to take it after screentesting with John
Back in the day: The musical movie made John then 24 (pictured left) a heartthrob overnight
‘On the Grease set, he would tell me. “Liv, it’s every guy’s dream to have you as his girlfriend”.
‘Yes, we really liked each other and there was an attraction, but we would never date because we were both involved with other people at the time and both of us have a loyalty streak that runs deep.’
Olivia added that things ‘never went beyond friendship with John.
And John remembered: ‘It almost happened between us a few times , but it didn’t. Sometimes life just offers you the wrong timing. We had to leave it as dear friends.’
How Olivia spoke about contemplating death in one of her final haunting interviews
Olivia Newton-John revealed she had contemplated the prospect of dying following her cancer diagnosis in one of the final interviews before her tragic death.
During an interview on Sarah Grynberg’s A Life of Greatness podcast last year, the Australian icon said: ‘We all know we’re going to die, but I think we spend our lives in denial. It’s extremely personal so it’s hard to put into words.
‘I feel that we are all one thing and I’ve had experiences with spirits and spirit life. I believe there is something that happens.
‘I hope the energies of the people you love will be there… I think all the love will be there. I’m sort of looking forward to that, not now, but when it happens.’
Olivia married John Easterling, 70, in 2008. Her first husband was Matt Lattanzi, to whom she was married between 1984 until 1995. They share daughter Chloe, 36.
John married Kelly Preston in 1991 but she died n July 2020 after having secretly battled breast cancer for two years. She was 57.
Their children are Jett, Ella Bleu, 22, and Benjamin, 11. Jett sadly passed away in 2019 aged 16 – he suffered a seizure after hitting his head on a bathtub.
Olivia shared one final heartbreaking post on Instagram on Friday just three days before she passed away.
The British-Australian actress and singer had shared a happy throwback photo with her beloved husband John, 70, simply writing: ‘Flashback Friday’ but made no reference to her health struggles.
Olivia was last pictured on April 18 when she stood in front of a backdrop of sunflowers in her garden, while smiling from ear-to-ear.
She had written: ‘Wishing everyone a Happy Easter on this beautiful Spring day.’
Hollywood has mourned one of its brightest stars with tributes pouring in from all across the globe. One of the star’s first high-profile friends to pay tribute was John – his affection for her still clear to see.
‘My dearest Olivia, 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,’ he captioned an Instagram post alongside a photo of Newton-John.
‘Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!’
TV host Richard Wilkins appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday and revealed he had texted John to offer his condolences, and said he is understandably very cut up about her death.
He said: ‘I texted John. One of the weird things about the job I do, when something like this happens – it is almost exactly 12 hours ago that I got the phone call from one of our producers who told us the horrible news.
‘You go to work, talk about Olivia all day and you find yourself reaching out to people. Most of the people around her who you would expect and like to hear from aren’t ready to talk publicly, and such is the nature of social media that people can issue statements. But aside from that, a lot of people – John is heartbroken; he’s too raw to talk.’
He added: ‘They, of course, shared an enormously close bond after starring in one of the world’s favourite movies together. Olivia leaves such a great hole in the world.
Her husband revealed the actress’ final request was for donations to be made to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, ‘in lieu of flowers’.
‘I know it’s been a very, very, very difficult time for everybody in the whole planet – so this is a time we can get together, celebrate each other and our families and whatever faith that you believe in we can express it with each other which is very important.
Farewell: Olivia shared a final, throwback heartbreaking Instagram post with husband John Easterling on Friday just three days before she passed away from cancer aged 73 – as tributes poured in from Hollywood
In memory: Newton-John’s Instagram was mostly made up of flashback posts from throughout her career, but on April 18 the star shared a rare candid photo of herself with a beaming smile beside a bed of sunflowers
‘I want to thank you all for all of your support over the years and I wish you all the best and send you love and light.
Newton-John’s battle with breast cancer first began in 1992 when she was just 44 years old. She was very open about her diagnosis and treatment, which famously included the use of medical marijuana.
Her cancer returned in 2013 and again in 2017.
Newton-John and Easterling met while on a ayahuasca retreat in Peru.
Olivia is survived by her 36-year-old daughter Chloe- who posted a loving tribute to her mother on Instagram three days ago, saying: ‘I worship this woman. My mother. My best friend.’
A recent interview featuring Olivia resurfaced from A Life of Greatness podcast a year ago – one of her final interviews.
During the candid chat, Olivia revealed her deep faith and the pact she made with God while pregnant with daughter Chloe Lattanzi back in the eighties.
‘I remember when I was pregnant with Chloe, and I was close to losing her,’ Olivia explained on the podcast.
‘I went to bed and asked God to save her and if he did, I would say the Lord’s Prayer every night for the rest of my life and so I have.’
She added: ‘I think prayer is very powerful.’
Olivia also shared her thoughts on death and faith, saying she believed there was something out there after you die.
‘Have you contemplated your death?’ the podcast host asked.
Iconic role: During one scene, John purposely walked in front of the camera. He said: ‘Sorry I messed up. Liv, I did that on purpose because I don’t want them to use that take. I know you can do better’
‘I have quite a few times that it was a possibility sooner than I wanted it,’ Olivia said.
‘We all know we are going to die… I think we spend our lives denying it. It’s extremely personal. I find it hard to put into words, I feel we are all part of one thing, I have had experiences with spirits or spirit life and felt the spirit world and have heard things, that I believe there is something that happens.’
Olivia said she thought there was ‘energy’ and a life of some sort after death.
‘It’s almost like we are parts of the same computer and we go back to the main battery. I don’t have a definite definition of what it is,’ she explained.
‘I think there is a great knowingness out there we become part of it. I hope that the energies of the people you love will be there… I think all the love will be there… I’m sort of looking forward to that, not now, but when it happens,’ she added with a laugh.
However, in one of her last red carpet appearances. Olivia confessed that she had been in ‘denial’ about her cancer battle in recent years – and refused to label her struggle to live as a ‘fight.’
Just two years before her passing, she spoke candidly about her outlook on life at the G’Day USA benefit in Beverly Hills alongside former co-star Travolta.
‘Gosh, life is a gift and I’ve had an amazing life and I intend to keep going with it and I want to help other people with cancer of course,’ she told DailyMail.com in the January 2020 interview.
‘I have my wellness center in Melbourne and I want to see an end to cancer in my lifetime so other people don’t have to suffer.’
Heartbreaking: Grease co-star John was among the first to pay tribute to Newton-John writing: ‘your Danny, your John’ under a photo (above) of the star
Poignant: John wrote this touching caption alongside the beautiful throwback image of his co-star
Reflecting on her fight to beat the condition, she admitted: ‘I don’t see it as a battle. I don’t think about it a lot, to be honest. Denial is a really good thing and I’m getting stronger and better all the time! I am doing well!…I am feeling wonderful.’
She also admitted that she had hope for her future.
‘I’m winning over and living with it well and that’s how I see it,’ she added.
The actress famously beat breast cancer twice but was diagnosed again in 2017. She spent the last few years at home, campaigning for animal rights and raising money for her charity.
In a haunting interview with The Guardian in 2020, she said of the disease: ‘It’s been a part of my life for so long.
‘I felt something was wrong. It’s concerning when it comes back, but I thought “I’ll get through it again”.
In other interviews, when asked how she battled the disease so bravely, she said: ‘I’ve had and am having an amazing life so I have no complaints. I really don’t.
‘Everyone goes through something. We all have something we need to go through in life. This has been my challenge.’
How ‘Grease’ became a victim of cancel culture during Olivia Newton-John’s tragic battle with cancer – but the star had an incredible comeback for the film’s haters
Grease had become a victim of ‘cancel culture’ as it’s star Olivia Newton-John battled cancer – but she was always had the best comeback to the haters who said it was ‘sexist’ and even ‘offensive’ to women.
Newtown-John said people needed to ‘relax a little bit and just enjoy things for what they are’.
‘It’s a fun movie that entertains people,’ she said.
However, students at Presbyterian Ladies’ College and Scotch College in Perth in November didn’t see it that way when they decided not to perform the musical because the girls deemed it to be anti-feminist.
The show was made famous by the movie version starring Newton-John and John Travolta in 1978
PLC principal Cate Begbie and Scotch College acting headmaster Peter Burt released a joint statement about their decision to cancel the musical.
‘A number of PLC students raised concerns whether the musical was appropriate in modern times,’ it read.
‘Scotch College listened respectfully to the girls’ concerns, and both schools agreed a different musical would be better suited for their joint production in 2022.’
Sunrise reported the girls at PLC told teachers they felt Grease was ‘offensive, sexist and anti-feminist’ and refused to take part.
‘They can’t put on Mary Poppins because she disciplines the children. Sound of Music, you know, does it does it portray a blended family accurately?’ co-host Edwina Bartholomew asked on the program last year.
‘What are they deciding on?’ David Koch replied.
‘I don’t know, The Book of Mormon?’ Bartholomew joked.
Newton-John repeatedly defended the film in her recent interviews, saying people shouldn’t be taking it ‘too seriously’.
‘I think it’s kind of silly. I mean, this movie was made in the 1970s about the 1950s,’ she said.
‘It was a stage play, it’s a musical, it’s fun. It’s a fun movie musical, not to be taken so seriously.
‘We need to relax a little bit and just enjoy things for what they are. I didn’t see it like that at all, I think it’s a fun movie that entertains people.’
Grease was also aired on free-to-air TV in the UK earlier this year, with the showing attracting similarly angry responses from viewers.
Many viewers accused the film of being ‘misogynistic’, ‘rapey’ – and even encouraged ‘slut-shaming’.
Newton-John said during a 2020 interview she believed it actually conveyed a strong female character that was relevant in today’s society.
‘It’s a movie. It’s a story from the ’50s where things were different,’ she said of its criticism.
‘Everyone forgets that, at the end, he changes for her too. There’s nothing deep in there about the #MeToo movement.’
Olivia committed a large portion of her personal fortune to support her charity three years before her death.
The Grease star used money raised from a massive sell-off of her real estate and invested it in The Olivia Newton-John Foundation for cancer research, reports the New York Post.
Newton-John got her first break at just 15-years-old, winning the Sitmar Talent Quest on Channel Seven’s popular Sing Sing Sing show, hosted by Australian rock icon Johnny O’Keefe, in April 1964.
She performed the songs Anyone Who Had A Heart and Everything’s Coming Up Roses, winning the top prize of a trip to the UK.
With a voice Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive described as ‘pure and powerful’, Newton-John was in demand and appearances on 7’s Sunnyside Up, ABC’s Teen Scene and a return to Sing Sing Sing followed.
Billed as ‘Lovely Livvy’, she filled in as hostess on Seven’s Happy Show over the summer of 1964–65 and then – against her Cambridge University-educated father Bryn’s wishes – Newton-John left school to follow her dream.
She appeared in the children’s movie Funny Things Happen Down Under, followed by the first of many appearances on ATV-0’s (later Channel 10) pop music program GO!!
Paying tribute: Her daughter Chloe Lattanzi shared a photo with her mother just three days before her death, writing: ‘I worship this woman. My mother. My best friend’
Newton-John also signed a contract with Seven to appear on daytime variety show Time For Terry.
These productions also featured her boyfriend of the time, singer and actor Ian ‘Turps’ Turpie.
Her rush to success continued in May 1965, when Newton-John was the opening act on an episode of Boomeride, a new live music show on Channel Nine.
Given her experience over the previous 12 months, she already had a confidence seemingly beyond her years.
This was reflected in the risque song she was given to sing, with lyrics saying that though she was ’16 now … One of these days, when I grow up, I’m gonna make love to you’.
In early 1966, accompanied by her mother, Irene, Newton-John finally used her Sing Sing Sing prize, travelling by ship to England.
The unbridled early success she had achieved in Australia was not immediately replicated in the UK.
Her debut single, Till You Say You’ll be Mine, flopped, as did a singing duo with fellow Australian, Pat Carroll.
A Monkees-style pop group called Toomorrow then recruited her and she fronted them on a flop 1970 ‘space musical’ film and two singles.
Getting her voice heard: Olivia pictured performing Everything’s Coming Up Roses on Sing Sing Sing, broadcast on April 19, 1964
Despite the tough times in England she never gave up and in 1971 things took a better turn when Cliff Richard hired her as a regular guest singer on his TV variety show.
With the help of Richard’s backing band The Shadows, Newton-John finally scored a hit single with a cover of Bob Dylan’s If Not for You.
Several more hits, including two albums, quickly followed, with an up-tempo take of the murder ballad Banks Of The Ohio, doing well in Australia as well as the UK.
Her 1973 song Let Me Be There was her key to success in the US, earning her a Grammy award for best female country vocal performance.
With a follow-up hit, I Honestly Love You, Newton-John won the female vocalist of the year trophy at the 1974 Country Music Association awards.
Some of the biggest names in American country music were reportedly angered by an Australian pop singer having hits in a genre they regarded as their territory.
It made no difference, and Newton-John later said she had no idea there was a backlash.
‘I was travelling and touring, and I heard about it after, and heard that Dolly [Parton] and Loretta [Lynn] had backed me up, so I had great support,’ she said.
While some rock music magazines railed against her for not being ‘authentic’, others gave her a pass due to her looks.
Creem magazine asked it’s readers ‘What female singer would ya like most to sit in yr lap? ‘Connie Francis? (too old) Cher? (too bananas). Answer: Olivia!’
She won more awards, including another three Grammys, but by the late 1970s her sales were dropping.
Her big break in Grease came in 1978. She famously resisted the part, at first turning down producer Allan Carr because she thought she was too old for the role.
He won her over, and adapted the script to make the character an Australian ex-pat to accommodate her accent. When the movie was released, it was an international hit and she became a global sex symbol.
Riding a wave of success from Grease, she hammed up her newfound sex symbol status with Physical, her most successful album and single released in 1981.
After Grease, Newton-John’s acting career faltered. She appeared alongside Lattanzi in the movie Xanadu in 1980, but it failed to impress in the box office
She took three years off work following the birth of her daughter in 1986, then was struck with her first cancer diagnosis in 1992 when she was 44.
After her first diagnosis, she devoted her career largely to charity and humanitarian work.
Olivia Newton-John’s funeral plans revealed: Grieving family accept state memorial service after Grease star’s death
Australians will get a chance to publicly mourn Olivia Newton-John, with the beloved entertainer’s family accepting an offer for a state memorial service.
Newton-John’s niece Tottie Goldsmith accepted the offer on the family’s behalf while speaking with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday morning.
A venue and date for the service have yet be announced, with further discussions under way between the family and the premier’s department.
Olivia’s death was announced on Monday, after a 30-year battle with cancer.
Australians will get a chance publicly mourn Olivia Newton-John, with the beloved entertainer’s family accepting an offer for a state memorial service
But Mr Andrews flagged the event will be more of a concert than a traditional funeral service.
‘The family were quite touched at the prospect of Victorians being able to come together and celebrate Olivia’s life,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘As tough as this time is… it’s made a little easier by all the outpouring of grief and support, and the very fond memories people are sharing of such an amazing person.’
Newton-John’s niece Tottie Goldsmith accepted the offer on the family’s behalf while speaking with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday morning
‘The family were quite touched at the prospect of Victorians being able to come together and celebrate Olivia’s life,’ Mr Andrews said
The actress, singer and activist was reportedly planning to write an introductory letter to new Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas, federal Health Minister Mark Butler and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to push for greater access to medicinal cannabis.
Ms Thomas said she had not received any correspondence from Newton-John but was aware of her passion to support people living in pain with cancer and other chronic illnesses.
The Grease star lost her battle with stage-four metastatic breast cancer on Monday morning.
The actress and singer died peacefully at the age of 73 at her home in southern California, surrounded by family and friends. Her husband John Easterling announced her death on her Facebook page.
‘Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends,’ Easterling wrote.
‘We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.
‘Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer.
‘Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer,’ he added.
The family asked for donations to be made to her cancer organisation, the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, instead of flowers.
Easterling also paid tribute to his late wife on social media this week, talking about their love for one another.
Using Newton-John’s Instagram account, Easterling wrote: ‘Our love for each other transcends our understanding. Every day we expressed our gratitude for this love that could be so deep, so real, so natural.
‘We never had to “work” on it. We were in awe of this great mystery and accepted the experience of our love as past, present and forever.’
The actress famously beat breast cancer twice but was diagnosed again in 2017.
She spent the last few years at home, campaigning for animals’ rights and raising money for her charity online.
‘Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends,’ he wrote