The 69-year-old nearly broke down in tears as he honored some of Hollywood’s greatest stars who passed away during the past year.
He said: “They’ve touched our hearts, they’ve made us smile, and became dear friends, who we will always remain hopelessly devoted to.” His words were a nod to Dame Olivia’s 1978 hit, Hopelessly Devoted, sung by her character Sandy in Grease.
The star became emotional before managing to introduce rock star Lenny Kravitz to the stage.
The singer, 58, performed his 2004 hit Calling All Angels on the piano as a video played playing tribute to Hollywood icons lost in 2022.
Names appeared on the screen including Irene Papas, Robbie Coltrane, Kirstie Alley, Dame Angela Lansbury, Irene Cara, Ray Liotta, Nichelle Nichols, Burt Bacharach, Vangelis, James Caan and Raquel Welch.
John Travolta gets emotional as he introduces the "In Memoriam" segment at the #Oscars: "They've made us smile, and became dear friends who we will always remain hopelessly devoted to." https://t.co/ndiKiHfmID pic.twitter.com/67NZN8e11d
— Variety (@Variety) March 13, 2023
Dame Olivia, who was best known for playing Sandy in the 1978 hit film Grease, died t her ranch in southern California in August, aged 73, after a long battle with cancer.
She had been born in Cambridge, England, before moving with her family to Melbourne, Australia.
Dame Olivia’s husband thanked fans for “the ocean of support that has come our way” in a post on Instagram following her death.
Olivia Newton-John - In pictures
“Our love for each other transcends our understanding,” he captioned a picture of himself and his late wife.
“Every day we expressed our gratitude for this love that could be so deep, so real, so natural. We never had to ‘work’ on it.
“We were in awe of this great mystery and accepted the experience of our love as past, present and forever.”
He continued: “At Olivia’s deepest essence she was a healer using her mediums of song, of words, of touch.
“She was the most courageous woman I’ve ever known.
“Her bandwidth for genuinely caring for people, for nature and all creatures almost eclipses what is humanely possible.
“It is only the grace of God that has allowed me to share the depth and passion of her being for so long.
“In her most difficult times she always had the spirit, the humour, and the will power to move things into the light.
“Even now as her soul soars, the pain and holes in my heart are healed with the joy of her love and the light that shines forward.”
Signing off, he added: “Our family deeply appreciates the vast ocean of love and support that has come our way.
“Onward Ho, John Easterling.”
Following her death, landmarks across the state of Victoria were lit up in pink on August 9 to remember the actress and her contribution to raising awareness of cancer.