Actress. Singer. Songwriter. Philanthropist. Australia’s Sweetheart. We all know and love her as the good-girl gone bad Sandy Olsson from the hit movie-musical “Grease,” but I am here to tell you that she is so much more than that.
Olivia was born on September 26th, 1948 to parents Brinley and Irene. Though she was not born in Australia, she moved there with her mother during her early childhood years and remained there until she won a talent contest that granted her an opportunity to pursue a singing career in England. Reluctant at first, Olivia went and gave it a shot and by 1966, she had recorded her first single “Till You Say You’ll be Mine” and by 1971, her first solo album, If Not for You, that would catapult her to success. Throughout the seventies, Olivia continued to sing, expanding her range of genres from ballad-type love songs to country music. She was very successful in the country genre and consequently had several #1 hits in the mid-seventies. Audiences everywhere fell in love with her voice and her persona.
GREASE IS THE WORD
The other day while I was hanging out with a group of people in the common area of my dorm hall, we were discussing our favorite movies. When I revealed that mine was Grease, one of the guys in the group admitted to never having seen it. This floored everyone else because we all agreed that this movie is one that everyone, regardless of whether on not he or she is a fan of musicals, has seen. Who hasn’t ever donned a Pink Ladies or T-Bird jacket for some odd Halloween or costume party?! It’s simply a classic. (Fear not, readers: we had a viewing party in my dorm later that evening, and he loved it!)
To say that Grease greatly-enhanced Olivia’s success is a gross understatement. Here was the sweet, wholesome sweetheart from Australia smoking a cigarette while wearing cherry red stilettos and skin-tight black spandex pants. Just like her character Sandy, Olivia went through a rather radical change in style after doing this movie: She traded in her boots for sneakers and launched herself into a new, sensual realm during the 1980’s.
LET’S GET PHYSICAL
Olivia recently revealed during a live concert that she is very proud of her song “Physical,” simply because it is the only song she had to be banned from being played on the radio due to suggestive content. Her music in the 80’s explored a much more sensual side than her previous hits in the 70’s that were all vey wholesome and sappy. Some popular titles include “Physical,” “Soul Kiss,” “Make a Move on Me,” and “A Little More Love.”
Along with her musical career, Olivia attempted acting again in another musical that was significantly less successful than Grease. I believe the words that my amazing mother used to describe it were as follows: A rock ‘n’ roll, rollerskating, romantic space adventure. The film version of Xanadu received horrible reviews, but the soundtrack, on which Olivia is featured and had many hits, was popular among the general public. She experimented with a couple more movies and albums, but in 1986 when her daughter Chloe was born, she slowed down a bit to prioritize being a good mother to her newest addition.
NOT GONNA GIVE INTO IT
In 1992, Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily for all of us, she was a fighter and was able to show cancer that she was boss. This instilled in her a desire to educate others on the topic of breast cancer and what it means to achieve total bodily wellness: mind, body, and spirit. She has done so much to further these causes. She is the partial owner of a wellness spa, she recorded an album that was filled with songs that encourage healing, she developed an instrument to help women perform self-examinations, she leads wellness walks annually, and the most admirable of all: she opened the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre, which of course is a hospital that aids cancer patients during their battle with the disease.
Since her diagnosis, she has recorded several uplifting albums, has been in a few movies and has even made appearances in television series, all the while being an outspoken advocate for human wellness. She is first and foremost a devoted mother and wife, but she also loves her fan base and is nothing but gracious and lovely towards them. She is currently in residency at the Flamingo in Las Vegas, where she performs shows for audiences nearly every night.
WHY I ADMIRE OLIVIA
Now for the meat of this post and the reason I started this blog. To you, Olivia might just be another artist that you could have pulled out of a hat, but to me, she is such an important role model. I absolutely adore her music and listen to it literally all of the time, but what I love and so admire about her can be summed up in her choice to refer to herself as a cancer “thriver.” Not a survivor, but a thriver. After her battle with cancer, she made her overall well-being, and the well-being of others the world over, her top priority. She began to write uplifting music that would inspire her audiences. She contributes ceaselessly to good causes. She truly walks the walk, ya know, and that is so rare among modern artists. To list all of her notable career accomplishments would be a nearly impossible feat, so I will just link you all to her pages at the end of this post.
Let me be the first to say YOU GO, ONJ. She is such a gem. The entertainment industry shines a little brighter because of you and your contributions to both it and all of the other causes that you so selflessly support. I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone when I say that “I honestly love you.”
Who is inspiring you today?