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Jane Seymour hails close friend Olivia Newton-John for ‘changing the world’

Dame Olivia Newton-John (PA)
Dame Olivia Newton-John (PA)

Dame Olivia Newton-John’s close friend Jane Seymour paid tribute to the Grease star for “changing the world” as she recalled her final days before her death from cancer.

The British-born singer and actress died peacefully at her ranch in Southern California on Monday morning at the age of 73, with her husband John Easterling confirming the news on social media.

Dame Olivia, who grew up in Australia, was best known for her starring role as Sandy in the 1978 film Grease, in which she appeared opposite John Travolta, who played Danny Zuko.

Former Bond girl and Golden Globe winner Seymour met Dame Olivia in 1976 after moving to Los Angeles from the UK.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, she clutched two photographs showing them together and said: “She was a really special person. She changed the world in many ways, especially in terms of what she did with cancer. Basically, instead of hiding things in her life, she opened up and said, ‘This is what I’ve got, this is what it looks like’.

“And then when it came back again, then again she was very open. I spoke to one of her family today and I said, ‘If I talk about her is there something I should or shouldn’t say?’ They said, ‘Do you know what? She laid it all out there’. She cared about everybody else, she made a huge difference.

“Her legacy is extraordinary, not just as a performer but as a friend, a champion of people who are dealing with cancer.”

Recalling their final meeting before her death, Seymour added: “The last time … she didn’t know I was coming. She got the day wrong.

“Somehow she got in some sort of clothes and came out and she just kept looking around and she said, ‘Look at those hummingbirds, look at the sky, look at nature. Isn’t it beautiful?’ That’s who she was. She just grabbed every moment.”

Dame Olivia Newton-John has died at the age of 73
Tony Bennett with Dame Olivia Newton-John (Ian West/PA)

Appearing on BBC Breakfast, Australian singer Peter Andre said Dame Olivia was “always smiling”.

The pair performed together at a spina bifida charity concert in Australia and remained friends.

He said: “I would say she was one of those people that always presented a certain type of aura, a certain type of aura that not many people can give out.

“And I know that we talk about warmth and kindness being separate to her professional career, but, actually, it looked like it was all merged in one – that’s the impression I always got.

“And you were never disappointed when you met her, she was always smiling, always so lovely.”

Australian-based TV presenter Richard Wilkins, a close friend of Dame Olivia, said he had spoken to Travolta and that he was “just heartbroken”.

Appearing via video call in a black suit and tie, he told Good Morning Britain: “He is too raw to talk. They of course shared an enormously close bond after starring together in one of the world’s most loved movies together, from 1978.

“Olivia leaves such a great hole in the world, not just for music and her iconic film performances but here in Australia and around the world she shared her battle with cancer very publicly and was a beacon of hope for millions of people around the world.”

It comes after Travolta paid tribute on Instagram shortly after news of Dame Olivia’s death was announced on Monday evening.

“My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better,” he wrote.

“Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again.

“Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”

 

Other Hollywood A-listers and collaborators paying tribute to Dame Olivia included Kylie Minogue, Peter Andre, Dionne Warwick, James Gunn and Edgar Wright.

Aside from her hit role in the film, Dame Olivia was also a multi-platinum selling artist, with two singles and two albums having earned the certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The singer also represented the UK in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Long Live Love.

She finished fourth in the competition, held in Brighton, losing out to Abba, with their hit song Waterloo.

She is survived by her husband as well as her daughter.