Olivia Newton-John: Grieving family members accept offer of state funeral service in Australia

·2-min read
Dame Olivia Newton-John with husband John Easterling  (PA Archive)
Dame Olivia Newton-John with husband John Easterling (PA Archive)

The grieving family of Grease star Dame Olivia Newton-John have accepted a state funeral service in her memory in Australia.

The singer and actress, best known for playing Sandy in the 1978 hit film opposite John Travolta, died on Monday at home in California aged 73.

On Thursday, the state government of Victoria, Australia, confirmed that its offer of a state funeral had been accepted, with premier Daniel Andrews discussing plans with Dame Olivia’s niece, Tottie Goldsmith.

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.”

Although British-born, the star considered herself Australian after moving to Melbourne aged six.

Aside from her hit role in Grease, Dame Olivia was also a multi-platinum selling artist, and a passionate advocate for better cancer care.

Olivia Newton-John dies, aged 73

Olivia-NewtonJohn.jpg: Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta at the 40th anniversary for Grease (AFP via Getty Images)
Olivia-NewtonJohn.jpg: Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta at the 40th anniversary for Grease (AFP via Getty Images)
Olivia-NewtonJohn.jpg: Olivia Newton-John on the set of Grease in Los Angeles, 1977 (AP)
Olivia-NewtonJohn.jpg: Olivia Newton-John on the set of Grease in Los Angeles, 1977 (AP)
Olivia-NewtonJohn.jpg: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in the film Two of a Kind, released in 1983 (AFP via Getty Images)
Olivia-NewtonJohn.jpg: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in the film Two of a Kind, released in 1983 (AFP via Getty Images)
Olivia-NewtonJohn.jpg: Olivia Newton-John auctions off her iconic ‘bad Sandy’ outfit (Getty Images)
Olivia-NewtonJohn.jpg: Olivia Newton-John auctions off her iconic ‘bad Sandy’ outfit (Getty Images)
Olivia-NewtonJohn.jpg: Olivia Newton-John attends the Wellness Walk and Research Runon in Australia (Getty Images)
Olivia-NewtonJohn.jpg: Olivia Newton-John attends the Wellness Walk and Research Runon in Australia (Getty Images)
Olivia-NewtonJohn.jpg: Olivia Newton-John performs at the Hollywood Christmas parade in 2016 (AFP via Getty Images)
Olivia-NewtonJohn.jpg: Olivia Newton-John performs at the Hollywood Christmas parade in 2016 (AFP via Getty Images)

She founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre, in Melbourne, in 2012. The family have asked for donations to the centre in lieu of flowers from fans wishing to pay their respects.

In an emotional tribute on Wednesday, the star’s husband said the pair’s love for one another “transcends our understanding".

John Easterling said Dame Olivia was "the most courageous woman I have ever known" and that her caring nature "almost eclipses what is humanly possible".

Her daughter Chloe Lattanzi also posted a tribute and accompanying video to her mother, describing her as “an angel on earth".

“You are my lighthouse mama. My safe place. My heart space," she wrote on Instagram. “It has been my honor and continues to be my honor to be your baby and best friend.

Following news of her death, household names from across film and music, including John Travolta, Dolly Parton, Sir Elton John and Kylie Minogue, paid tribute to Dame Olivia.

The cast of the current production of Grease The Musical on London’s West End have also dedicated the entire rest of the run to her memory and said they were honoured to “follow in her footsteps each night”.