John Travolta, who played the tole of ‘bad boy greaser’ Danny in the 1978 musical Grease, took to social media to pay tribute to Olivia Newton-John who passed away after a battle with metastatic breast cancer on Monday 8 August.
Newton-John’s passing was confirmed by her husband, John Easterling, who wrote on Facebook:
“Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.”
The British-Australian entertainer, whose career spanned more than five decades, devoted much of her time to charities after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992.
John Travolta pays tribute to Olivia Newton-John: ‘Yours from the moment I saw you’
The Grease co-stars — who reunited years later in the 1983 film Two of a Kind — remained close friends for 44 years.
“My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better,” the 68-year-old Travolta wrote in his Instagram tribute post.
“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 moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”
‘Grease’: Instant fame and success
Newton-John and Travolta headlined Grease, delivering two of their most iconic film performances. Newton-John played the prim and proper Sandy, who falls in love with bad boy greaser Danny, played by Travolta.
The hit musical, directed by Randal Kleiser, became the highest-grossing film of the year — grossing $366 million (about R6 billion) at the worldwide box office — and the highest-grossing movie musical of all time to that point.
Watch: Newton-John and Travolta perform ‘You’re the One That I Want’
The soundtrack was also a smash hit, selling more than 28 million copies worldwide and scoring a No 1 hit for Newton-John and Travolta with the duet You’re the One That I Want.
The film’s soundtrack was the second biggest album of 1978 in the United States, trailing only the soundtrack to Travolta’s hip-swaying Saturday Night Fever.
According to Variety, the single Hopelessly Devoted to You, performed by Newton-John, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song.
‘How could you say no to John Travolta?’
In her autobiography, Don’t Stop Believin’, the actress said she felt too old at 28 to play a high school student. Two of her prior films flopped at the box office, but when Newton-John met Travolta, she agreed to a screen test.
“In person, John Travolta radiates pure joy and love. That day, he greeted me with a big hug like we were already lifelong friends. How could you say no to John Travolta?” she writes, per The Sunday Post.
Lifelong friends groove to ‘Grease’
At a 40th anniversary screening for Grease in 2018, the duo recreated their famous moves on the red carpet.
“We rehearsed so much in the three week period to get it right,” Travolta told Variety at the time about rehearsing for the film with Newton-John.
“And you can see from the energy on that film, we were so anxious to get it right that I think everything — it was like going to school. Every day there was a regimen: Song, dance, recording, rehearsing scenes, rewriting scenes. It was a big myriad of events.”