Olivia Newton-John's niece says she'll keep star's legacy alive
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Tonight, BBC Two is marking the life of British-Australian singer Olivia Newton-John with its programme, ‘Olivia Newton-John at the BBC’, at 10.15pm, followed by her 1980 musical fantasy film Xanadu, which starts at 11.15pm. Newton-John, who was made a dame in 2020 for services to charity, cancer research, and entertainment, leads a cast including Michael Beck and Hollywood star Gene Kelly, who was starring in his final film before his death. Among the hits included in the film were Magic, which reached number one in the US, as well as the title track, performed by Newton-John alongside British rockers the Electric Light Orchestra. Though the film itself was a commercial flop, the soundtrack helped elevate the former Grease star’s career once again.
This year, Newton-John sadly passed away, something which saw an emotional outpouring from fans around the world.
Her seminal role in Grease defined the film industry for a generation, with the throwback flick becoming the highest-grossing musical of its time, its soundtrack remaining one of the biggest selling in music history.
Following her death on August 8, tributes flooded in for Newton-John, including from her former co-stars, includinh John Travolta. Her niece, Tottie Goldsmith, spoke out on their last conversation and spoke with pride at how her aunt faced her final days.
During an interview following Newton-John’s passing, Goldsmith spoke on the Australian news show A Current Affair about their final conversation together. She said: “I told her all the things I needed to say.
“She was leaving us, but I feel like she got it… She was really skinny and unwell and I said to her, ‘Are you afraid of dying?’ and she said, ‘I’m not afraid. I’ve done more in my life than I could have ever imagined.’”
The family was aware of Newton-John’s deteriorating health Goldsmith, herself an award-winning singer, said. But the realisation of how ill she was struck them in the days before her death. She added: “It’s not a shock — we’ve known how sick she’s been, especially in the last five days.
“It wasn’t just the cancer that got her; it was other complications, being in a hospital and with a very susceptible immune system. She got secondary infections. She really went down in the past five, six days.”
Newton-John previously discussed death on the podcast, A Life of Greatness, in 2021 in what turned out to be one of her last interviews. The actress had struggled with her health in the build-up to her death, something she admitted to not being scared of anymore.
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She said: “We all know we’re going to die, but I think we spend our lives in denial,” she said. “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.”
Following her passing, Travolta, who starred opposite Newton-John in Grease, penned an emotional tribute on Instagram to mark the occasion. He wrote: “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. Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”
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In the days after her death, fans shared Newton-John’s final Instagram video which was posted just before Christmas in 2021. In the emotional video, the singer can be seen thanking her fans for their support, wishing them well for their futures.
She added: “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.
“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.”
BBC Two’s tribute to the singer airs at 10.15pm tonight.
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