Why Olivia Newton-John’s Death Feels Personal to Grease Fans

Ah, Sandy.

The image of an angelic, ponytailed Sandra Dee arriving at Rydell High’s county fair, dressed in spandex and sporting a new bad-girl image – ready to claim her man – in 1978’s “Grease” is forever in burned into the minds of moviegoers everywhere.

Olivia Newton-John glares at John Travolta’s Danny Zuko, knocking him over with a sultry command, “Tell me about it, stud.”

It’s an iconic scene, comparable to “Here’s looking at you, kid” in “Casablanca” or Darth Vader saying “I am your father” to Luke in “The Empire Strikes Back”.

From that moment on, we were hopelessly devoted to her.

This unforgettable twist in the hit film musical about Newton-John, the wondrous actress who died on Monday at the age of 73 after a long battle with breast cancer, endeared the Australian actress to the world.

The film Grease, which also skyrocketed the careers of Travolta and Stockard Channing, is so loved by countless fans to this day that Newton-John’s death is incredibly personal for many.

She had it all: a gorgeous pop voice, acting skills, unparalleled beauty, likability, a sense of down-under humor. She was a beacon of raw star power.

Olivia Newton-John morphed into it "Fat."
Olivia Newton-John transforms into Grease.
CBS via Getty Images
Olivia Newton-John's Sandy was entranced by John Travolta's Danny.
Newton-John’s Sandy was enchanted by John Travolta’s Danny.
CBS via Getty Images

Grease, thanks in no small part to her, is that rare film cherished by multiple generations – no matter how recalcitrant they may otherwise be. Grandma, Mom and their daughter all have beaming smiles as they sing “You’re The One That I Want” and “Summer Nights.”

Newton-John brought people together, and she will continue to do so.

British-born but better known as Aussie, Newton-John is so impressive that she left an indelible mark on cinema with just one starring role. Yes, she’s done other small TV shows and movies — her second-biggest role was as a goddess sent to Earth in the cult-favourite Xanadu — but Grease was the word.

Newton-John was roller skating "xanadu," with songs by the Electric Light Orchestra.
Newton-John went roller skating on “Xanadu,” which featured songs by the Electric Light Orchestra.
©Universal/Courtesy of Everett Col

She was more on the radio than in the cinema. She has spent most of her career as a musician and has had a slew of #1 hits. Their fabulous song “Physical” is still a phenomenal dance tune and a hallmark of ’80s music. Even on the critically ridiculed “Xanadu,” the Electric Light Orchestra jams she sang, like “I’m Alive” and “Suddenly,” are still a tingling listen.

And yet there is something about Sandy. We all see ourselves in the role of a cute new foreign student who is first abused and then takes charge of her situation. Add in Newton-John’s perfectly acted vulnerability and sensuality and you have a performance to last. How many other ’70s movies can you show your kids and know they’ll pay attention to and enjoy?

Listen to Newton-John’s superb rendition of “Hopeless Devoted To You” today. You will hear it again. Your eyes won’t be the first to cry.

https://nypost.com/2022/08/08/why-olivia-newton-johns-death-feels-personal-for-grease-fans/ Why Olivia Newton-John’s Death Feels Personal to Grease Fans

Emma Bowman

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