Facebook Twitter

Olivia Newton-John’s most iconic pop culture moments

Since news of Olivia Newton-John’s death this week, fans have been revisiting her well-known roles. Here are Newton-John’s most iconic pop culture moments

SHARE Olivia Newton-John’s most iconic pop culture moments
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta dancing in “Grease” (1978).

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta at the high school dance in “Grease” (1978). With Newton-John’s passing, fans have been revisiting her most iconic pop culture moments.

Paramount Pictures

With the death of Olivia Newton-John this past week, friends and fans alike have been reflecting on Newton-John’s most iconic pop culture moments.

John Travolta, who played Danny opposite of Newton-John’s Sandy in “Grease,” posted a touching tribute to Newton-John on Instagram: “My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible... Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”

What did Olivia Newton-John die of?

Newton-John died of breast cancer at the age of 73. The actress’s husband, John Easterling, announced her death on Facebook on Monday: “Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends.”

Olivia-Newton John’s most iconic pop culture moments

While Newton-John was best known for playing Sandy in “Grease,” it’s certainly not her most well-known cultural moment. Here’s a list of Newton-John’s most iconic pop culture moments.

“Grease” (1978)

Newton-John’s starring role as Sandy in “Grease” is arguably what catapulted her to fame. At 29 years old, Newton-John played a wide-eyed Australian transplant in the hit musical. Even though the film came out over 40 years ago, audiences today still recognize iconic “Grease” musical numbers, such as “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One that I Want.”

“Hopelessly Devoted to You” (1978)

Perhaps one of the most well-known songs from “Grease”, “Hopelessly Devoted to You” still resonates with music-lovers. “Grease” fans might be surprised to know that the classic song wasn’t part of the original musical production — it was written specifically for the movie by Newton-John’s music collaborator, John Farrar.

The song was such a hit that it rose to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also received an Oscar nomination for best original song, according to Rolling Stone.

“Xanadu” (1980)

While some may say that Newton-John’s film career peaked with “Grease”, Newton-John starred in another movie musical: “Xanadu.” In it, Newton-John stars as Kira, one of the nine muses of Olympus, came to earth to inspire Sonny Malone (Michael Beck) to create a nightclub called Xanadu.

The film wasn’t a hit when it came out in 1980, but it’s developed a niche cult following over the years. In 2020, BBC argued that it might be time to rethink “Xanadu”: “Perhaps now, as the film turns 40, we ought to reappraise it. ... Maybe Xanadu is a misunderstood masterpiece?”

“Physical” (1981)

Perhaps one of Newton-John’s most well-known songs, “Physical” is in stark contrast to Sandy’s good-girl image in “Grease.” The “Physical” music video depicts Newton-John interacting with a group of muscular men working out while Newton-John sings the innuendo-filled lyrics. According to The New York Times, “Physical” was the longest-running No. 1 song of the ’80s.

“Glee” guest-starring role (2010)

Newton-John’s film and TV appearances were scarce in the 2000s, but she did a make a rare guest appearance on the hit show “Glee.” In Season 1, Episode 17, a video of Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) dancing along to “Physical” gets leaked and subsequently ridiculed.

The video catches the attention of Newton-John, playing herself, who enlists Sue’s help to recreate her iconic “Physical” music video. This guest appearance was a delight to fans, who loved seeing Newton-John recreating “Physical” after over 30 years.