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Profile of Olivia Newton-John
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Olivia Newton-John (born September 26, 1948) is a British-born Australian singer and actress.
Olivia Newton-John, OBE was born in Cambridge, England. She is the granddaughter of Max Born, a German Nobel prize-winning physicist who fled from 1930's Germany with his wife in order to avoid persecution due to his Jewish heritage. In 1954, at the age of 5, Olivia, her parents, Brin and Irene Newton-John, and her older siblings, Hugh and Rona, relocated to Melbourne, Australia. Her father had taken a job there as the Dean of Ormond College. He was originally from Wales, Great Britain and was a professor of German. Brin was the MI5 Officer who took Rudolf Hess into custody when he parachuted into Scotland in may 1941. He was attached to the Enigma machine project at Bletchley park .
In Australia he finished his Acedemic career as the founding deputy Vice-chancellor of the 1966 Autonomous University of Newcastle. Prior to this he was Professor of German at the UNSW annex at Tighes Hill. Olivia in her visits to her father would sing at Olivers Unicorn Restuarent upstairs in Newcastles Hunter St. Brin and a number of his circle of friends both acedemic and non-acedemic would be her main audience.
Her parents divorced when Olivia was 11 years old.
By the age of 15, she had formed an all-girl band called Sol Four. By 1963, she was a regular on local television and radio shows in Australia. She won a talent contest on the television programme Sing, Sing, Sing — the prize was a trip to England. On this programme she sang two songs: "Anyone Who Had A Heart" and "Everything's Coming Up Roses".
Newton-John returned to live in England with her mother, when she was 16 years old and working as a duo with her friend Pat Carroll (who subsequently married Olivia's producer, John Farrar). Newton-John cut her first single, "Till You Say You'll Be Mine" b/w "Forever" for Decca Records in England in 1966. Newton-John's first album was titled Toomorrow [sic], which was also the name of Newton-John's musical group. This was the brainchild of American producer Don Kirshner, creator of The Monkees. They starred in the movie Toomorrow. Although the band and film were commercially unsuccessful, Newton-John's solo career started to take off with her first solo album titled Olivia Newton-John, which was released in the UK on Pye Records.
In 1968 Newton-John met The Shadows' guitarist Bruce Welch to whom she became engaged until 1972. She made appearances on Cliff Richard's weekly show "It's Cliff Richard" and starred with him in the tele-film The Case.
The public soon took notice of Newton-John's talents and she quickly became one of Britain's most popular singers. She was voted 'Best British Female Vocalist' two years in a row by the magazine 'Record Mirror'.
Newton-John's first international hit was a song written by Bob Dylan called "If Not For You" which was produced by her then fiance Bruce Welch and John Farrar. She represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 and came in at 4th place.
Later in the year, the single I Honestly Love You was released in the United States and became her first single to chart at #1 across the Atlantic.
In 1975, encouraged by expatriate Australian singer Helen Reddy, Newton-John left England and moved to the USA where she became a hugely popular singer in both country and popular music. She had five #1 hits, including the song Physical, which stayed at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for ten weeks. She has earned many awards and received four Grammys. She has also received an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) from Queen Elizabeth II in 1979. In 1981 Newton-John received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition of her outstanding career.
In the country field, she was respected and loved by fans (as much as she was reviled by country purists who believed her brand of music had no place on country radio). In 1974 she won the Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year award, beating out such country heavyweights as Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Anne Murray and Tanya Tucker; another country icon, Tammy Wynette, wasn't even nominated. Newton-John's win angered many pure country artists and fans, and perhaps as a direct result, some country artists and other influential personalities became members of a newly formed organization called the Association of Country Entertainers.
Newton-John's film breakthrough came when she was offered the female lead in the highly successful movie Grease, after a chance meeting with producer Allan Carr at a party at Helen Reddy's house in Los Angeles. John Travolta had desperately wanted Newton-John to be his co-star in the film and had let his wishes be known to Carr and Randal Kleiser before either of them met Newton-John.
"You're The One That I Want" and "Summer Nights" went to number one on US and international charts and stood at the number one position for 9 and 7 weeks respectively on the UK charts. Newton-John's solo number "Hopelessly Devoted To You" was also a huge hit. The film itself was the biggest box office hit of the year and has remained an audience favorite.
To follow this success, Newton-John released Totally Hot in 1978 with extensive promotion; the release was a critical and commercial success, spawning the smash hit "A Little More Love," Top Ten single "Deeper Than The Night," and the Top 40 title track "Totally Hot." A more ambitious album than some of Newton-John's earlier releases, the record included both sexy uptempo numbers (including a spirited remake of the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'"), alongside characteristically beautiful ballads. Newton-John further established herself as one of the most versatile and appealing female pop vocalists of her generation. The album also cemented Newton-John's transformation into 70's sex symbol.
In 1980 she took the lead with Gene Kelly in the cult film, Xanadu. While at the time, the movie was considered a critical and commercial failure, over the years it has gained a considerable pop-culture following. The Xanadu soundtrack had several commercially successful singles. Its production was a collaborative effort with Electric Light Orchestra.
Newton-John also starred in Two of a Kind, which received little acclaim but garnered hit songs.
Olivia has also done her fair share of television work as well. She starred in the television movies A Mom For Christmas and A Christmas Romance. She has also guest-starred in sitcoms (mostly as herself) such as Murphy Brown, Bette, and Ned and Stacey and the made for TV film "The Wilde Girls", which featured her daughter Chloe Rose Lattanzi and Swoosie Kurtz.
In 1983 Newton-John and Pat Farrar, a longtime friend, founded Koala Blue, a chain of women's clothing boutiques, with the designs of the apparel based on the unique style and colours of Australia. The chain was successful for some time but eventually went out of business. However, Newton-John and Farrar have licensed the brand name for a line of Australian produced wines, confectionery and other items.
She was married to Matt Lattanzi from 1984 to 1995. There is one child from this marriage, Chloe Rose Lattanzi, born in 1986. Since 1996, she has been with boyfriend, Patrick McDermott, a cameraman. In 1992 she underwent breast-cancer surgery, from which she recovered. She actively promotes public awareness of the importance of early detection of the disease. In 1998 Newton-John, John Farnham and Anthony Warlow formed a powerful trio on the "Main Event" tour which travelled to all major Australian capital cities, spawned a Top 10 CD which won an ARIA (Australian Record Industry Association) Award for Highest Selling Australian CD.
She sang the duet "Dare to Dream" with John Farnham at the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and was an Olympic torch bearer, running the route around the Sydney Opera House. In 2002, a duets album called (2) was released (featuring singers such as Darren Hayes, Tina Arena, Jimmy Little and Billy Thorpe as well as heartfelt duet-tributes with Peter Allen and Johnny O'Keefe) and went Top 5 in Australia, followed by a successful Australian tour.
In 2002, Newton-John was also inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. 2004 saw the death of her beloved mother Irene and the release of Indigo: Women of Song, a tribute album covering songs by The Carpenters, Minnie Ripperton, Doris Day, Nina Simone, Joan Baez, and many others dedicated to Irene. The record went gold in Australia.
In 2005, the best-selling compilation Gold was released: a double-disc set with many hits and some rarities. In October, she released Stronger Than Before, an album promoting breast cancer awareness, through Hallmark Gold Crown® Stores.
In the summer of 2005, directly before Stronger Than Before hit stores, Newton-John's long-time boyfriend, Patrick McDermott, went missing following a June 30 fishing trip off the California coast. The Coast Guard is not ruling out the possibility of foul play but concede they have few leads. It should be noted that Newton-John is not considered a suspect in the case.
She is currently touring the U.S.
Billboard Hot 100 placements
Only Top Ten hits from the Billboard Hot 100 are included in this list.
- "Let Me Be There" - (1973) - (# 6; Country #7; Adult Contemporary # 3 and a Grammy winner for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female; from the album "Let Me Be There")
- "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)" - (1974) - (# 5; Country # 2; Adult Contemporary # 2 from the album of the same name)
- "I Honestly Love You" - (1974) - (# 1, 2 Weeks; Country # 6; Adult Contemporary #1 (3 weeks) and a Grammy winner for Pop Vocal Performance, Female, and Record of the Year; from the album "If You Love Me, Let Me Know")
- "Have You Never Been Mellow" - (1975) - (# 1, 1 Week; also Adult Contemporary #1 (1 week); Country # 3 from the album of the same name)
- "Please Mr. Please" - (1975) - (# 3; also Adult Contemporary #1 (3 weeks); Country # 5 from the album "Have You Never Been Mellow")
- "You're The One That I Want" - (1978; duet with John Travolta) - (# 1, 1 Week; Adult Contemporary # 23 from the "Grease" soundtrack)
- "Hopelessly Devoted To You" - (1978) - (# 3; Adult Contemporary # 7; Country # 20, from the "Grease" soundtrack)
- "Summer Nights" - (1978; duet with John Travolta) - (# 5; Adult Contemporary # 21 from the "Grease" soundtrack)
- "A Little More Love" - (1978) - (# 3; Adult Contemporary # 4; Country # 94 from the album "Totally Hot")
- "Magic" - (1980) - (# 1, 4 Weeks; also Adult Contemporary #1 (5 weeks); from the "Xanadu" soundtrack)
- "Xanadu" - (1980) - (# 8, Adult Contemporary # 2 in America but a massive #1 in the U.K.; the movie title song featuring the Electric Light Orchestra)
- "Physical" - (1981) - (# 1, 10 Weeks; Adult Contemporary # 29 from the album "Physical")
- "Make A Move On Me" - (1982) - (# 5; Adult Contemporary # 6 from the album "Physical")
- "Heart Attack" - (1982) - (# 3; from the album "Olivia's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2")
- "Twist Of Fate" - (1983) - (# 5; from the "Two of a Kind" soundtrack)
- Toomorrow soundtrack (1970)
- If Not For You (1971) (released in the U.S. as Olivia Newton-John)
- Olivia (1972)
- Music Makes My Day (1973)
- Long Live Love (1974)
- Have You Ever Been Mellow (1975)
- Clearly Love (1975)
- Come On Over (1976)
- Don't Stop Believin' (1976)
- Making a Good Thing Better (1977)
- Greatest Hits (1977)
- Grease soundtrack (1978)
- Totally Hot (1979)
- Xanadu soundtrack (1980)
- Love Performance: Olivia Live in Japan (1981)
- Physical (1981)
- Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (1982)
- Two of a Kind soundtrack (1983)
- Soul Kiss (1986)
- The Rumour (1988)
- Warm and Tender (1989)
- Back to Basics: The Essential Collection 1973-1992 (1992)
- Gaia (1994)
- Heathcliff (1995) (w/ Cliff Richard)
- Back with a Heart (1998)
- One Woman's Live Journey (2000)
- 'Tis the Season (2000) (w/ Vince Gill and The Bradford Singers
- Sordid Lives soundtrack (2001)
- The Christmas Collection (2001)
- 2 (2002)
- Indigo: Women of Song (2004)
- Stronger Than Before (2005)
- Funny Things Happen Down Under (1965)
- Toomorrow (1970)
- Grease (1978)
- Xanadu (1980)
- Two of a Kind (1983)
- She's Having a Baby (1988) (Cameo)
- Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991) (documentary)
- It's My Party (1996)
- Sordid Lives (2000)
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