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Friday, September 26, 2014

66 Groovy Things about Olivia Newton-John on her birthday

Today I'm celebrating Olivia Newton-John's 66th birthday by sharing a "few" groovy things about her life and career:

1. Olivia Newton-John was born in Cambridge, England, on September 26, 1948, and her family moved to Melbourne, Australia, when she was five.

2. In early 1965, she performed as "Lovely Livvy" on the Australian children's program, The Happy Show.

3. She co-starred with her first boyfriend Ian Turpie in the 1965 Australian musical telefilm, Funny Things Happen Down Under.

4. Her first big break was winning a talent contest on the Australian TV show, Sing, Sing, Sing, performing the songs "Anyone Who Had a Heart" and "Everything's Coming Up Roses". Her prize was a trip to London.

5. She recorded her first single, a cover of Jackie DeShannon's "Till You Say You'll Be Mine", for Decca Records in 1966.

6. In 1966, she and her Australian friend Pat Carroll formed a singing duo called "Pat and Olivia" and toured nightclubs in Europe. When Pat's visa eventually expired, forcing her to return to Australia, Olivia stayed in Britain.

7. In 1970, she joined the pop group, Toomorrow (the brainchild of producer Don Kirshner), and they filmed a science fiction musical, also called Toomorrow, in which dying aliens kidnap the group whose "vibrations" are needed for their race to survive. The movie flopped, and Toomorrow soon disbanded.

8. In 1971, she released her first solo album, If Not For You, and her cover of the title track (written by Bob Dylan) became her first hit. Below is her performance of the song on the German pop music program, Disco, on July 3, 1971.

9. She made her first U.S. television appearance on The Dean Martin Comedy Hour on October 26, 1972.

10. She performed a cover of "Take Me Home, Country Roads" from her third album, Let Me Be There, on Australian television in 1972.

11. She performed a cover of "Yesterday Once More" on the British comedy sketch show, Sez Les, on September 8, 1973.

12. In 1974, she won a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for "Let Me Be There", and she performed this song and the title track from her 1974 album, If You Love Me, Let Me Know, on The Midnight Special on May 24, 1974.

13. She performed "If You Love Me, Let Me Know" and "I Honestly Love You" during her first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on June 5, 1974. "I Honestly Love You" became her first #1 single in the United States, and it earned her two more Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

14. She appeared on The Bob Hope Special on December 15, 1974.

15. She performed "Let It Shine" from her album, Clearly Love, on The Midnight Special on March 7, 1975.

16. She performed the title track - and her second #1 hit - from her sixth studio album, Have You Never Been Mellow, on The Tonight Show on March 14, 1975.

17. Olivia, Valerie Harper and Steve Martin were the guests on John Denver's TV special, Rocky Mountain Christmas, on December 10, 1975.

18. She sang the Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning song, "Richard's Window", in the 1975 film, The Other Side of the Mountain.

19. She starred in her first US television special, A Special Olivia Newton-John, on November 17, 1976, with her guests Rona Barrett, Tom Bosley, Ron Howard, Lynda Carter, Lee Majors and Elliott Gould.

20. She and guest host Helen Reddy sang "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" on The Tonight Show on February 21, 1977.

21. She returned to England to record a BBC special, Only Olivia, which aired on September 23, 1977.

22. She was offered the lead role of Sandy in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical, Grease, after meeting producer Allan Carr at a dinner party at Helen Reddy's home.

23. Mike Douglas's taped interview with Olivia, John Travolta and Allan Carr on the set of Grease was featured on his talk show on November 3, 1977.

24. She, Perry Como and Mark Hamill were the guests on The Bob Hope All Star Christmas Comedy Special on December 19, 1977.

25. She starred in her second US television special, Olivia, on May 17, 1978, with her guests ABBA, Andy Gibb and Gary Frank.

26. Dinah Shore featured the cast of Grease on her show, Dinah!, on June 16, 1978, including Olivia, Eve Arden, Frankie Avalon, Jeff Conaway, Didi Conn and Dody Goodman.

27. She and Donny Osmond sang "You're the One That I Want" from Grease on his show, Donny & Marie, on September 22, 1978.

28. She released her album, Totally Hot, in November 1978, featuring three singles, "A Little More Love", "Deeper Than the Night" and the title track.

29. She and Gloria Swanson were the guests on the British talk show, Parkinson, on December 2, 1978.

30. She received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Grease, but at the 36th Golden Globe Awards on January 27, 1979, Ellen Burstyn (Same Time, Next Year) and Maggie Smith (California Suite) both won.

31. She performed her Oscar-nominated song, "Hopelessly Devoted to You", from Grease on the 51st Academy Awards on April 9, 1979, but "Last Dance" from Thank God It's Friday won for Best Original Song.

32. She and Andy Gibb recorded the song, "I Can't Help It", which appeared on his 1980 album, After Dark.

33. She starred in her third US television special, Hollywood Nights, on April 14, 1980, with her guests Cliff Richard, Elton John, Andy Gibb, Karen Carpenter, Tina Turner, Gene Kelly, Toni Tennille, Dick Clark, Ted Knight and Peaches (of "Peaches & Herb"). This was the last special to be shown on ABC's Oscar Night before Barbara Walters' specials took over the slot in 1981.

34. To promote her 1980 movie musical, Xanadu, she was the host of The Midnight Special on July 25, 1980, featuring music from the film's hit soundtrack ("Magic", "Suddenly" with Cliff Richard) as well as "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from her 1977 album, Making a Good Thing Better.

35. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 5, 1981.

36. She released her most successful studio album, Physical, on October 13, 1981, and the title track became her biggest hit, spending 10 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, which matched the record held by Debby Boone's 1977 hit, "You Light Up My Life".

37. The Merv Griffin Show did a "Salute to Olivia Newton-John" episode on November 2, 1981, featuring Olivia and John Travolta.

38. She became a pioneer in the new music video industry by recording a video album for Physical featuring videos of all the album's tracks (including "Make a Move on Me") plus three of her older hits. She received her fourth Grammy in 1983 for Video of the Year, and the video album aired as an ABC special, Let's Get Physical, on February 8, 1982, and she received her fourth Grammy in 1983 for Video of the Year.

39. Olivia Newton-John was the host and musical guest of Saturday Night Live on May 22, 1982. She performed "Physical", "Make a Move on Me" and "Landslide".

40. In September 1982, she released Olivia's Greatest Hits Vol. 2, which included two new recordings, "Heart Attack" and "Tied Up".

41. Her 1982 Physical Tour was filmed, and the video premiered on HBO on January 23, 1983, as Olivia: Live in Concert.

42. She reunited with John Travolta in 1983 for the romantic comedy, Two of a Kind, and its soundtrack yielded three singles, "Twist of Fate", "Livin' in Desperate Times" (No. 31 Pop) and "Take a Chance" (a duet with Travolta).

43. She and John Travolta promoted Two of a Kind on The Tonight Show with guest host Joan Rivers on November 28, 1983.

44. In 1983, she and her friend and former singing partner, Pat Carroll Farrar, founded Koala Blue, which originally sold Australian imports and later became a chain of women's clothing boutiques. Although initially successful, Koala Blue closed in 1992.

45. She appeared on the Australian variety series, Hey Hey It's Saturday, with her new husband, Matt Lattanzi, and actor Christopher Atkins soon after their wedding in December 1984. She and Matt first met in 1980 while filming Xanadu, and their daughter, Chloe, was born on January 17, 1986. They divorced in 1995, and she married her second husband, John Easterling, in June 2008.

46. She made a cameo appearance as herself in the 1988 John Hughes film, She's Having a Baby.

47. She appeared on Late Night with David Letterman in 1989 to promote her album of children's lullabies, Warm and Tender.

48. She starred in two holiday TV movies, A Mother for Christmas (1990) with Doug Sheehan and Doris Roberts and A Christmas Romance (1994) with Gregory Harrison and her daughter Chloe.

49. She made an uncredited cameo in the 1991 documentary, Madonna: Truth or Dare.

50. In 1994, she released Gaia: One Woman's Journey, a self-penned and co-produced album that was inspired by her successful battle with breast cancer.

51. She guest-starred as herself on the Fox sitcom, Ned & Stacey, on November 13, 1995.

52. She appeared in the 1996 AIDS drama, It's My Party, with Eric Roberts, Margaret Cho and Gregory Harrison.

53. She guest-starred as herself on the CBS sitcom, Murphy Brown, on December 10, 1997.

54. She was a guest on The RuPaul Show on June 20, 1998.

55. She sang "I Honestly Love You" during a 1998 appearance on Oprah.

56. She won a 1999 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Song after "Love Is a Gift", a song from her 1998 album, Back with a Heart, was featured on the daytime soap opera, As The World Turns.

57. In 2000, she played Bitsy Mae Harling, a lesbian ex-con country singer, in the film, Sordid Lives. She reprised her role in 2008 in Sordid Lives: The Series.

58. She has released three Christmas albums - 'Tis the Season (2000) with Vince Gill, Christmas Wish (2007) featuring duets with Barry Manilow, Michael McDonald and Jon Secada, and This Christmas (2012) with John Travolta.

59. She guest-starred on Bette Midler's CBS sitcom, Bette, on February 7, 2001.

60. She starred in the 2001 Showtime film, The Wilde Girls, with Swoosie Kurtz and her daughter Chloe.

61. In 2008, she raised funds to help build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

62. She appeared on Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List on June 26, 2008.

63. In 2010, she made two appearances as herself on the TV series, Glee, and in her first episode, she re-created her "Physical" video with Jane Lynch. The performance was released as a digital single, returning Olivia to the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time since her 1998 re-release of "I Honestly Love You" (from her album, Back with a Heart).

64. She played the mother of a home-schooled hockey prodigy in the 2010 Canadian film, Score: A Hockey Musical.

65. She played the mother of the bride in the 2012 Australian-British comedy, A Few Best Men, directed by Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert).

66. In April 2014, she began a residency at the Flamingo Las Vegas with Summer Nights, a musical journey through her life in film and music.


laura linger said...

No woman in the world as beautiful as she was in her Grease black-leather getup. Can you imagine being all of eight years old, homely as hell, living in the middle of nowhere in Indiana, and seeing that vision of loveliness up on the big screen at the local movie theater? How impossible, to know that women in the world could look like such goddesses! How wonderful! How hopeless! Make no mistake, I'm straight, but I was MADLY in love with ONJ for a very long time. I even saw Two Of A Kind in the theater...twice.

Marc Harshbarger said...

Thanks for sharing your ONJ love, Ms. Linger. I was madly in love with her as well - and I'm gay! I only saw Two of a Kind once, but I did buy the soundtrack.

MovieJunkie said...

Thanks for posting! I think she one of the best pop vocalists ever. Her voice has such a pure tone like very few singers have!!

Marc Harshbarger said...

I agree, MJ, that ONJ is one of the best pop vocalists ever. Thanks for your comment!