Olivia Newton-John, 'Grease' actress and Grammy-winner, dies at 73

Her Jewish grandfather - Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born - fled the Nazi regime in 1933


Actress and singer Olivia Newton-John has died at the age of 73, her husband has announced in a statement.

The 'Grease' star and Grammy-winning singer died at her Ranch in Southern California on Monday morning.

The statement from husband John Easterling read: "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 global star, of German-Jewish descent, revealed in May 2017 that she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer that had metastasised to the base of her spine. It her third diagnosis of cancer, having had bouts of breast cancer in 1992 and in 2013.

Referencing those battles, her husband added: "Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer." He asked that donations be made in the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer, in lieu of flowers.

Her efforts in cancer research were recognised by Queen Elizabeth in the 2020 New Year's Honours list, who named her a Dame.

Newton-John rose to fame as Sandy in the 1978 blockbuster musical film 'Grease' opposite John Travolta.

She was born in Cambridge, England in 1948 to Welshman Brinley "Bryn" Newton-John and Irene Helene.

Her grandfather was Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born, one of the founders of quantum mechanics, and in her 2019 autobiography, Newton-John wrote: “In 1933, my Jewish grandfather fled from Germany with his wife, Hedwig, to escape Hitler’s regime.

"He was not only a brilliant mind but also a humanitarian who helped Jews escape Germany. I’m extremely proud of my peace-loving grandfather.”

Her maternal great-grandfather was the German-Jewish jurist Victor Ehrenberg, and her father was a British intelligence officer with MI5 on the enigma project at Bletchley Park. He took Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess into custody during World War II.

Olivia Newton-John is survived by her husband John Easterling; daughter Chloe Lattanzi; sister Sarah Newton-John; brother Toby Newton-John; nieces and nephews Tottie, Fiona and Brett Goldsmith; Emerson, Charlie, Zac, Jeremy, Randall, and Pierz Newton-John; Jude Newton-Stock, Layla Lee; Kira and Tasha Edelstein; and Brin and Valerie Hall.

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