Famous birthdays: Olivia Newton-John
26/09/1948 - Currently, 70 years old
"Men need to be aware of the health of their bodies, as well - prostate cancer and breast cancer are almost on the same level. It's fascinating to me that the correlation between the two is almost the same - people don't talk about it so much, but they are almost equal in numbers.”
1948: Olivia Newton-John, AO, OBE is an English-Australian singer, songwriter, actress, entrepreneur, and a long-time activist for environmental and animal rights issues. She was born in Cambridge, England, to Welshman Brinley "Bryn" Newton-John and Irene Helene. Her Jewish maternal grandfather, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born, fled with his family to England from Germany before World War II to escape the Nazi regime. Newton-John's maternal grandmother was of paternal Jewish ancestry as well. Newton-John is the youngest of three children, following brother Hugh, a doctor, and sister Rona (an actress who was married to Grease co-star Jeff Conaway from 1980 until their divorce in 1985).
1954: When Olivia was six, the Newton-Johns emigrated to Melbourne, Australia, where her father worked as a professor of German and as Master of Ormond College at the University of Melbourne.
1962: She attended Christ Church Grammar School, and then University High School, near to Ormond College. At 14, Newton-John formed a short-lived all-girl group, Sol Four, with three classmates often performing in a coffee shop owned by her brother-in-law. She became a regular on local Australian radio and television shows including HSV-7's The Happy Show where she performed as "Lovely Livvy".
She also appeared on The Go!! Show where she met future duet partner, singer Pat Carroll, and future music producer, John Farrar (Carroll and Farrar would later marry). She entered and won a talent contest on the television programme Sing, Sing, Sing, hosted by 1960s Australian icon Johnny O'Keefe, performing the songs Anyone Who Had a Heart and Everything's Coming Up Roses. She was initially reluctant to use the prize she had won, a trip to Great Britain, but travelled there nearly a year later after her mother encouraged her to broaden her horizons.
1966: Newton-John recorded her first single, Till You Say You'll Be Mine, in Britain for Decca Records. While in Britain, Newton-John missed her then-boyfriend, Ian Turpie.
1970: Newton-John was recruited for the group Toomorrow formed by American producer Don Kirshner, who was also the music consultant for the earliest recordings of The Monkees. The group starred in a "science fiction musical" film and recorded an accompanying soundtrack album, on RCA records, both named after the group. That same year the group made two single recordings, You're My Baby Now/Goin' Back and I Could Never Live Without Your Love/Roll Like A River. Neither track became a chart success and the project failed with the group disbanding.
1971: She released her first solo album, If Not For You. The title track, written by Bob Dylan and previously recorded by former Beatle George Harrison for his 1970 album All Things Must Pass, was her first international hit. Her follow-up single, Banks of the Ohio, was a top 10 hit in the UK and Australia. She was voted Best British Female Vocalist two years in a row by the magazine Record Mirror. She made frequent appearances on Cliff Richard's weekly show, It's Cliff Richard, and starred with him in the telefilm, The Case.
1974: Newton-John represented the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Long Live Love". The song was chosen for Newton-John by the British public out of six possible entries. (Newton-John later admitted that she disliked the song.) She finished fourth at the contest held in Brighton behind ABBA's winning Swedish entry, Waterloo. All six Eurovision contest song candidates were recorded by Newton-John and included on her Long Live Love album, her first for the EMI Records label. Her country success sparked a debate among purists, who took issue with a foreigner singing country-flavoured pop music being equated with native Nashville artists. In addition to her Grammy for "Let Me Be There", Newton-John was also named the Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year in 1974, defeating more established Nashville-based nominees Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Tanya Tucker, as well as Canadian artist Anne Murray. This protest, in part, led to the formation of the short-lived Association of Country Entertainers (ACE). Newton-John was eventually supported by the country music community.
1976: Stella Parton, Dolly's sister, recorded Ode to Olivia and Newton-John recorded her 1976 album, Don't Stop Believin', in Nashville. She provided a prominent, but uncredited, vocal on John Denver's Fly Away single which was succeeded by her own single, Let It Shine/He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, at No. 1 on the AC chart. She headlined her first US television special, A Special Olivia Newton-John, in November of that year.
1978: Newton-John's career soared after she starred in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Grease in 1978. Grease became the biggest box-office hit of 1978. The soundtrack album spent 12 non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 and yielded three Top 5 singles for Newton-John: the platinum You're The One That I Want with John Travolta, the gold Hopelessly Devoted to You and the gold Summer Nights with John Travolta and the film's cast.
1979: Newton-John received the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) medal from Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in London.
1980: Newton-John she released I Can't Help It a duet with Andy Gibb from his After Dark album, and by starring in her third television special, Hollywood Nights. Later that year, she appeared in her first film since Grease starring in the musical Xanadu with Gene Kelly and Michael Beck. Although the film was a critical failure, its soundtrack was certified double platinum boasting five Top 20 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Newton-John charted with Magic, Suddenly with Cliff Richard and the title song with the Electric Light Orchestra. (ELO also charted with I'm Alive and All Over the World.
1981: Newton-John released her most successful studio album, the double platinum Physical. The title track, written by Steve Kipner and Terry Shaddick, spent ten weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100. The single was certified platinum and it ultimately ranked as the biggest song of the decade. (In 2008, Billboard ranked the song No. 6 among all songs that charted in the 50-year history of the Hot 100.) To counter its overtly suggestive tone, Newton-John filmed an exercise-themed video that turned the song into an aerobics anthem and made headbands a fashion accessory outside the gym.
1983: That same year Newton-John and Pat Carroll founded Koala Blue. The store, originally for Australian imports, evolved into a chain of women's clothing boutiques. The chain was initially successful, but it eventually declared bankruptcy and closed in 1992. Newton-John and Farrar would later license the brand name for a line of Australian produced wines, confections, and bed/bath products.
1984: Newton-John married her first husband, actor Matt Lattanzi in December of this year, they divorced in 1995. The couple had met four years earlier while filming Xanadu. Their daughter, Chloe Rose, was born in January 1986.
1992: Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer forcing her to cancel all publicity for her new album, including the tour. (Newton-John received her diagnosis the same weekend her father died.) Newton-John recovered and has since become an advocate for breast cancer research and other health issues. She is a product spokesperson for the Liv-Kit, a breast self-examination product. She is also partial owner of the Gaia Retreat and Spa in Byron Bay, New South Wales.
1994: Newton-John's cancer diagnosis also affected the type of music she recorded. She released Gaia: One Woman's Journey which chronicled her ordeal. This was the first album on which Newton-John wrote all of the songs encouraging her to become more active as a songwriter thereafter. In 2005, she released Stronger Than Before, sold exclusively in the US by Hallmark. This was her second exclusive album for Hallmark Cards after her successful first Christmas album 'Tis the Season with Vince Gill five years earlier. Proceeds from the album's sales benefited breast cancer research.
1996: Newton-John met gaffer/cameraman Patrick McDermott a year after her divorce from Matt Lattanzi. The couple dated on and off for nine years. McDermott disappeared following a 2005 fishing trip off the Californian coast. Various theories abounded regarding his disappearance ranging from his death by accident or foul play to McDermott staging his disappearance to avoid child support payments to his ex-wife, actress Yvette Nipar.
1998: The film's popularity has endured through the years. It was re-released for its 20th anniversary and ranked as the second highest-grossing film behind Titanic in its opening weekend.
2000: Newton-John has released several Christmas albums. She teamed with Vince Gill and the London Symphony Orchestra for 'Tis the Season sold exclusively through Hallmark.
2006: In June of this year, Newton-John's company ON-J Productions Ltd filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Group (UMG) for $1 million in unpaid royalties from the Grease soundtrack. In 2007, it was announced that she and UMG had reached a "conditional settlement".
2008: She married John Easterling.
2009: Newton-John appeared on Andrea Bocelli's holiday album My Christmas and PBS TV holiday special My Christmas Special, with David Foster, Kenny Loggins and Richard Marx.
2013: Her residency at the Flamingo Las Vegas was postponed due to the May 2013 death of her elder sister, Rona (aged 70), from a brain tumour. Newton-John resumed with 45 shows beginning in April 2014.
2015: Newton-John was a guest judge on an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race. That same year, she scored her first number-one single on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart with You Have To Believe with daughter Chloe and producer Dave Aude.
2017: In May of this year, it was announced that Newton-John's breast cancer had returned and metastasised to her lower back.
- Newton-John's singles topped the AC chart, where she ultimately amassed ten No. 1 singles including a record seven consecutively: I Honestly Love You in 1974; Have You Never Been Mellow, Please Mr. Please and Something Better to Do in 1975; Let It Shine/He Ain't Heavy/He's My Brother, Come on Over and Don't Stop Believin in 1976.
- She is a four-time Grammy award winner who has amassed five number-one and ten other top ten Billboard Hot 100 singles, and two number-one Billboard 200 solo albums.
- Eleven of her singles (including two platinum) and 14 of her albums (including two platinum and four double platinum) have been certified gold by the RIAA.
- She is a third cousin of comedian Ben Elton.