An icon of style and screen: how the internet is paying tribute to Olivia Newton-John

An icon of style and screen: how the internet is paying tribute to Olivia Newton-John


Written by Amy Beecham

Olivia Newton-John has been hailed as an icon of style and screen following her death aged 73.

The internet has been awash with heartfelt tributes to Olivia Newton-John following her death from cancer aged 73.

In a statement posted to her social media channels, Newton-John’s husband John Easterling announced that she had died peacefully at her California ranch surrounded by family and friends on Monday 8 August.

Easterling hailed her as “a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” adding: “Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.”

Tributes are laid on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame for Olivia Newton-John

Newton-John was first diagnosed with cancer in 1992 and went on to become a leading advocate for cancer research: The Olivia Newton John Foundation has since raised millions of pounds to support the cause.

A multi-Grammy winning artist who was best known for her role as Sandy Olsson opposite John Travolta’s Danny Zuko in the 1978 musical Grease, Newton-John will be widely remembered as an icon of both style and screen.

Olivia Newton-John starred opposite John Travolta in 1978’s Grease

Whether as the ultimate girl-next-door or siren-like “bad Sandy”, her looks spawned thousands of imitations from runways to Halloween costumes. In 2019, her infamous tight black trousers and leather jacket from the You’re The One That I Want scene sold for over $405,700 at auction, with the proceeds benefiting her foundation.

While her co-stars and high-profile friends led tributes following her death, many fans took to Twitter to reflect on the legacy of one of film’s most enduring female characters, and what Sandy meant to multiple generations of young women.

“When my sis and I were little we used to watch Grease on repeat. We were obsessed. I was obsessed with her. So charming and so beautiful with this spark within a veneer of girl-next-door. One of the first romance leads I felt affinity to. May she rest in peace,” wrote author Bolu Babalola.

“From her stunning vocals to her sometimes sweet, sometimes sassy style as Sandy in Grease, not to mention her love of cats and campaigning, Olivia Newton-John will be remembered as an icon who influenced so many of us,” shared politician Luisa Porritt.

“I twirled on every playground post on every playground I ever stepped foot on c. 1980-85, singing Hopelessly Devoted To You, curling my lip as much as I could, hoping that for just one second in my life I might have the grace and style and beauty that Olivia Newton-John had,” added writer Lisa Donovan.

Others took a moment to reflect on the inspiration Newton-John provided within the LGBTQ+ community, both in Grease and other roles such as 1980’s Xanadu.

“Olivia Newton-John was part of my queer awakening. I remember putting on a blonde wig and singing around my house Hopelessly Devoted To You when I was 11. Hope she knows how inspirational she was, and that her family and friends receive the support they need,” shared one Twitter user.

Olivia Newton-John in 1987’s Grease

“For many gays, Xanadu was that movie that sparked something within. For me, Xanadu opened the doors to my creativity and my love for mythology and fantasy. As a kid, it made me long for a world full of wonders and colour. Olivia Newton-John was a big part of that awakening,” added another.

Images: Getty

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