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Encyclopedia > Olivia Newton John

Olivia Newton-John (born September 26, 1948) is a British-born Australian singer and actress.



Olivia Newton-John was born in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, and lived there until she was 5 1/2 years old. Olivia and her parents, Brin and Irene Newton-John and her older siblings, Hugh and Rona relocated to Melbourne, Australia in 1954 when her father was offered a job as the Dean of a College. Her parents divorced when Olivia was 11 years old.

By the age of 15, she had formed an all-girl band called Sol Four. By 1963, she was a regular on local television and radio shows in Australia. She won a talent contest on the television program Sing, Sing, Sing-- the prize was a trip to England.

Olivia returned to live in England, with her mother, when she was 16 years old, working as a duo with her friend, singer Pat Carroll (who subsequently married Olivia's producer, John Farrar). Olivia cut her first two singles, "Till You Say You'll Be Mine" and "For Ever" for Decca Records in England in 1966. Olivia's first album was titled Toomorrow [sic], which was also the name of the group of which Olivia was a member; it the brainchild of American producer Don Kirschner, creator of The Monkees. They starred in the movie Toomorrow. Although the band and film were commercially unsuccessful, Newton-John's solo career started to take off with her first solo album titled Olivia Newton-John which was released in the UK on Pye Records.

In 1968 Olivia met Shadows' guitarist, Bruce Welch whom she became engaged to until 1972. She made appearances on Cliff Richard's weekly show "It's Cliff Richard" and starred with him in the tele-film The Case. The public soon took notice of Olivia's talents and she quickly became one of Britain's most poppular singers, hence she was voted 'Best British Female Vocalist' two years in a row by the magazine 'Record Mirror'. Olivia's first international hit, "If Not For You" was produced by her then fiance Bruce Welch and John Farrar. She represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 and came in at 4th place. Later in the year, the single I Honestly Love You was released in the United States and became her first single to chart at #1 across the Atlantic.

In 1975, encouraged by expatriate Australian singer Helen Reddy, Olivia left England and moved to the USA where she became a hugely popular singer in both country and popular music. She had five #1 hits, including the song Physical, which stayed on the pop charts for ten weeks. She has earned many awards and received four Grammys. She has also received an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) from Queen Elizabeth II in 1979. In 1981 Newton-John received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition of her outstanding career.

Grease video tape cover

Olivia's film breakthrough came when she was offered the female lead in the highly successful movie Grease, after a chance meeting with producer Alan Carr at a party at Helen Reddy's house in Los Angeles. John Travolta had desperately wanted Olivia to be his co-star in the film and had let his wishes be known to Alan Carr and Randal Kleiser before either of them had yet to meet Olivia. "You're The One That I Want" and "Summer Nights" went to number one on international charts and stood at the number one position for 9 and 7 weeks respectively on the UK charts. This was followed by the lead with Gene Kelly in the cult film, Xanadu. The soundtrack of Xanadu was a collaborative effort with Electric Light Orchestra and its singles were very successful. Olivia also starred in Two of a Kind which received little acclaim but garnered hit songs. Olivia has also occasionally appeared in made-for-television movies and series episodes. She starred in the television movie "A Mom For Christmas" and appeared in an episode of the CBS series Murphy Brown. She had a small role in the independent film Sordid Lives.

In 1983, Newton-John and Pat Farrar, a longtime friend, founded Koala Blue, a chain of clothing boutiques for women with the designs of the apparel based on the unique style and colors of Australia. The chain was successful for some time but eventually went out of business. However, Newton-John and Farrar have licensed the brand name for a line of Australian produced wines, confectionery and other items.

She was married to Matt Lattanzi from 1984 to 1995. There is one child from this marriage, Chloe Rose Lattanzi, born in 1986. Since 1996, she has been with boyfriend, Patrick McDermott, a cameraman. In 1992, she underwent breast-cancer surgery from which she recovered. She actively promotes public awareness of the importance of early detection of the disease.

Her maternal grandfather was Max Born, a German Nobel prize-winning physicist. Her niece is singer and entertainer Tottie Goldsmith.

Billboard Hot 100 placements

Only Top Ten hits from the Billboard Hot 100 are included in this list.

  • "Let Me Be There" - (1973) - (# 6)
  • "If You Love (Let Me Know)" - (1974) - (# 5)
  • "I Honestly Love You" - (1974) - (# 1, 2 Weeks)
  • "Have You Never Been Mellow" - (1975) - (# 1, 1 Week)
  • "Please Mr. Please" - (1975) - (# 3)
  • "You're The One That I Want" - (1978; duet with John Travolta) - (# 1, 1 Week)
  • "Hopelessly Devoted To You" - (1978) - (# 3)
  • "Summer Nights" - (1978; duet with John Travolta) - (# 5)
  • "A Little More Love" - (1978) - (# 3)
  • "Magic" - (1980) - (# 1, 4 Weeks)
  • "Xanadu" - (1980) - (# 8)
  • "Physical" - (1981) - (# 1, 10 Weeks)
  • "Make A Move On Me" - (1982) - (# 5)
  • "Heart Attack" - (1982) - (# 3)
  • "Twist Of Fate" - (1983) - (# 5)


  • Indigo: Women of Song (2004)
  • '2' (Duet album) (2002)
  • The Christmas Collection (2001)
  • Sordid Lives (Soundtrack) (2001)
  • Tis The Season (Christmas) (2000)
  • One Woman's Journey (2000)
  • The Main Event (1998)
  • Back With A Heart (1998)
  • Heathcliff (Cliff Richard) (1995)
  • Gaia: One Woman's Journey (1994)
  • Back To Basics (1992)
  • Warm And Tender (1990)
  • The Rumour (1988)
  • Soul Kiss (1985)
  • Two Of A Kind (Soundtrack) (1983)
  • Physical (1981)
  • Love Perfomance In Japan (1981)
  • Xanadu (Soundtrack) (1980)
  • Totally Hot (1978)
  • Grease (Soundtrack) (1978)
  • Making A Good Thing Better (1977)
  • Don't Stop Believin' (1976)
  • Come On Over (1976)
  • Clearly Love (1975)
  • Have You Never Been Mellow (1975)
  • Long Live Love (1974)
  • Let Me Be There (1973)
  • Olivia (1972)
  • Olivia Newton-John (1971)
  • If Not For You (1971)
  • Toomorrow (1970)


  • Funny Things Happen Down Under (1965)
  • Toomorrow (1970)
  • The Case (1972)
  • Grease (1978)
  • Xanadu (1980)
  • Two of a Kind (1983)
  • A Mom for Christmas (1990)
  • A Christmas Romance (1994)
  • Its My Party (1996)
  • The Christmas Angel (1998)
  • Sordid Lives (2000)
  • The Wilde Girls (2001)

External links



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