Earlier this week, it was announced that beloved actor and singer Olivia Newton-John had passed away at age 73. Newton-John was known best for playing Sandy in the film version of Grease, and also starred in Xanadu alongside Gene Kelly in addition to releasing hit songs such as "Physical." Newton-John was born in the UK but grew up in Australia, which is where she will be honored with a state funeral. Deadline reported yesterday that the late star will be given a sendoff in Melbourne, where she first moved to in 1954 when she was six years old.
Daniel Andrews, the State Premier of Victoria in Australia, confirmed that Newton-John's family had accepted his offer to hold a state funeral. "I can update that I've spoken with [Newton-John's niece] Tottie Goldsmith this morning and she, on behalf of the family, have accepted my offer of a state service," he said. "This will be much more of a concert than a funeral, I think it will be a celebration of such a rich and generous life."
"As I said the other day, Olivia Newton-John was a very special person, and to take her cancer journey and to turn that into more research, better treatment, better care, and this focus on wellness, is such an amazing legacy and that's why I think we all feel the pain of her passing," Andrews added. "There will be further discussions, those discussions have started today, but there will be further discussions in my department and the family about what's appropriate."
"I think giving Melburnians and Victorians and indeed people who travel from other parts of the country and maybe even the world to be here to celebrate such an important, rich and generous life — that was the right thing to do," Andrews explained. "And I must say, it's very clear to me the family were quite touched by the prospect of Victorians being able to come together and celebrate Olivia's life."
The news of Newton-John's death was confirmed by a representative for the family, who said she died peacefully at home, according to a social media post by her husband, John Easterling.
"Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. We ask that everyone please respect the family's privacy during this very difficult time," read the statement posted to the star's Facebook page. "Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer. Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund (ONJFoundationFund.org)."
We send our condolences to Olivia Newton-John's family and friends during this difficult time.