Actor John Travolta had fans touched when he posted a birthday tribute to the late Olivia Newton-John on Instagram on Monday. Newton-John passed away back in August, leaving fans everywhere mourning alongside Travolta. On Monday, Sept. 26, she would have turned 74 years old.
"Happy birthday my Olivia," Travolta wrote over a photo of himself and Newton-John together on the set of Grease. The Instagram Story post was a simple, solitary memorial for the late singer, but it was enough for fans. Many were emotional, especially at the idea that Travolta is still mourning his friend all these months later. Their work together had many fans invested in their real-life relationship, and they were sad for the actor.
From John Travolta on Instagram. 🙏❤️😢 pic.twitter.com/jQuPe3XmVB— Neil McMahon (@NeilMcMahon) September 27, 2022
Newton-John was born in England but spent most of her early life in Australia. She began performing music live at an early age and began appearing on Australian TV shortly after that. As a young adult, she experienced a steady rise to international acclaim, but Grease was arguably a quantum leap in that journey. Her role as Sandy made her a household name and tied her to Travolta in the public eye for life.
Grease is an adaptation of a Broadway musical, but this film version made a handful of significant changes. Newton-John's character was changed from Sandy Dumbrowski to Sandy Olsson, and her Australian accent was explained away with this new name. In addition to the film's box office success, the soundtrack became a chart-topping hit as well, creating a form of symbiosis the entertainment industry has tried to repeat again and again.
In 2019, Newton-John reflected on the film's popularity and longevity in an interview with Billboard. She said: "I think the songs are timeless. They're fun and have great energy. The '50s-feel music has always been popular, and it's nostalgic for my generation, and then the young kids are rediscovering it every 10 years or so, it seems. People buying the album was a way for them to remember those feelings of watching the movie and feelings of that time period. I feel very grateful to be a part of this movie that's still loved so much."
Newton-John suffered from breast cancer which metastasized to her lower back. She battled the disease for years in private before announcing it to fans. After being diagnosed with stage IV cancer in 2017, she advocated for treatments and research until her death. Newton-John passed away on Aug. 8, 2022. At the time, Travolta's tribute to the actress went viral online.
"My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible. I love you so much," he wrote. "We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!"