Newton-John and Travolta: A look back at memorable moments

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta were just a couple when they appeared together on the big screen. But their platonic love for each other lasted long after they played Sandy and Danny in the hit 1978 film Grease.

“My dearest Olivia, you have made all of our lives so much better,” Travolta, 68, wrote on Instagram Monday after learning of Newton-John’s death that day at the age of 73. “Her influence was incredible. I love you so much. See you on the street and we’ll all be together again. Yours from the moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”

Their friendship blossomed in the extreme heat of Grease, which was filmed when they were both in their 20s. In 2018, Travolta explained the strength of their decade-long relationship.

“When you share that kind of meteoric success — and nothing has been able to top it — you share a bond,” he told People as the film celebrated its 40th anniversary. “I went through her having a child, getting divorced and losing her sister. She made it through me getting married and having kids. It is wonderful and full of memories together.”

Newton-John also gave her opinion on their relationship, telling People, “We did something life-changing by making this film. [At the premiere] you got the feeling from the energy that something is happening. It was a huge response. I’m grateful to be a part of it and to have worked with him. Since then we have remained friends.”

Travolta always made the time to reach out to her when things were difficult, she said.

A smiling blonde woman in a black dress stands between two men in suits at a gala event

Paul Hogan, left, with Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta at the 2013 G’Day USA Evening Gala in LA

(Getty Images for G’Day Australia)

Over the decades, the actors and singers have been featured at the annual G’Day USA events, which promoted diplomatic and commercial ties between the United States and Newton-John’s native country of Australia. Travolta, a pilot who has long been described as an “Honorary Australian”, also has a long-standing relationship with event sponsor Qantas.

At the organization’s 2013 evening gala, Newton-John helped present ‘Crocodile’ Dundee star Paul Hogan with the ‘Australian Icon’ honour. Travolta was named Goodwill Ambassador for Australia that same year – days after they sang with Keith Urban at a cocktail party that opened the G’Day USA event week.

A man in a dark suit smiles and puts his arm around the shoulders of a smaller woman wearing pink

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta attend a 40th anniversary screening of “Grease” in Beverly Hills in August 2018.

(Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images)

Travolta and Newton-John have also been stellar ‘Grease’ ambassadors in the more than 40 years since the film premiered, appearing when Paramount Pictures released half a dozen of its top musicals on DVD, and at events like the ‘Meet’ n’ Grease” session following a movie sing-along in Palm Beach, Florida. “We love singing together,” Travolta said during this Q&A. “So everything is possible.”

At a celebration of the film’s 40th anniversary, he said at a panel presented by the film academy that Newton-John was his “favorite thing about ‘Grease’,” saying there was no other person in the universe other than Olivia Newton-John are Sandy could play. You have to occupy them.”

Newton-John wasn’t so confident. She’s been in a musical before and it didn’t go well, she revealed at the event, plus she was nervous about playing a teenager when she was in her late 20s.

“Then they sent John to me,” she said. “And who can say no, right? This gorgeous guy walks up my driveway [with] Those bright blue eyes and he was so cute and melted me.”

Ah, with good comes bad. There were two Travolta/Newton-John friendship products that would have been better left on the shelf.

The first, “Two of a Kind,” was a box office flop released in 1983. While “Grease” grossed nearly $400 million worldwide, the high-concept comedy that followed it grossed just $24 million. A trailer for the film even tried to sell the Grease stars’ singing talents, promising “lots of good music from the stars themselves, as well as from Boz Skaggs and Chicago.”

“Give me a break,” wrote film critic Roger Ebert in his “Two of a Kind” review. “Don’t send me any more movies where four angels in heaven ask God to give mankind a second chance and God agrees – on condition that John Travolta reforms.” This film should have been struck by lightning.”

The other clunker was “I Think You Might Like It,” a cheesy country-pop song about getting together at home for Christmas, found on Travolta and Newton-John’s 2012 album This Christmas. It was the only original song on an album full of holiday standards.

The best way to experience the unforgettable ditty is to dive head first. Just click play on the incredibly trending music video above and remember – good friends go through thick and thin together. Especially when those friends are Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-08-09/olivia-newton-john-travolta-friends-relationship-memorable-moments Newton-John and Travolta: A look back at memorable moments

Sarah Ridley

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