Home Entertainment Olivia Newton-John remembered by Didi Conn

Olivia Newton-John remembered by Didi Conn

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The first time I met Olivia Newton-John was on the set of Grease in 1977. She arrived on this white T-Hen convertible with the highest down. It was beautiful, and she or he was beautiful. With stars, you are likely to hold a distance till you’re feeling that the time is true, so we didn’t discuss an excessive amount of at first, besides that she instructed me how cute she thought John Travolta was.

After we did our first day of capturing collectively, she was very nervous, so being the veteran movie actress I used to be (I solely did two films earlier than that one) I started to improvise together with her as [my character] Frenchy. I’m going: “Oh, Sandy. I’m so glad you’re my neighbour and we will come to highschool collectively!”, and she or he’s me like, is that this within the script? However then she caught on and we had a lot enjoyable. I stated: “What was it like going to highschool in Australia?” She stated: “Oh my God. I needed to put on gloves, and the boys went in a single place and women went in one other.” And earlier than we knew it, Randal [Kleiser], our director, was saying “Motion”. She hugged and kissed me afterwards and stated “thanks, thanks!” for serving to to interrupt the ice.

That was the start of a deeper friendship. I occurred to stay simply down the highway from her in Malibu, so we spent a whole lot of time collectively. We went horseback using up at her place. Travolta got here up there and we talked about performing lecturers – he didn’t consider in performing lecturers. She gave me little biscuits with tea. I’d by no means had them earlier than. From then on, I’d at all times get these Leibniz biscuits with milk chocolate on high.

After we first met, she was a rock star with No 1s and TV specials. She was very career-driven. However when she first got diagnosed with cancer [in 1992], she had [her daughter] Chloe, and Chloe was very younger. In that second, she decided that she was going to get higher, which she did. Her priorities modified. She grew to become pal, she actually was there for Chloe and it was so essential for her to share with the world what she went by means of and the way she beat it – not solely surviving most cancers, however thriving.

She raised tens of millions for the Olivia Newton-John Most cancers Wellness and Analysis Centre in Melbourne. One of many issues she did was a 21-day hike on the Nice Wall of China. Every walker was sponsored and I don’t know what number of tens of millions that introduced in. I went for eight days and I bear in mind Olivia discovered a bit of misplaced kitten, which she referred to as Magic. It was so small and she or he saved it proper subsequent to her chest, in her sports activities bra, the entire time. She had a horrible chilly, however she wasn’t pondering of herself, she was at all times pondering of what she may do for others.

Olivia Newton-John and Didi Conn in Grease.
Olivia Newton-John and Didi Conn in Grease. {Photograph}: Paramount Photos/Allstar

Her character in Grease begins off as this goody-goody-two-shoes, and that was Olivia’s fame too. Nicely, there was a sizzling momma smouldering beneath that stunning exterior. We have been doing the scene on the drive-in and, at one level, this very beautiful, attractive lady with huge hair and excessive purple sneakers comes strolling between the vehicles. No one recognised her at first. Then we realised it was Olivia. All people went loopy and stated they simply couldn’t consider it. And the fellows, their tongues have been hanging out, they have been drooling.

In later years, I went to see her carry out throughout. It was nice as a result of I acquired to be a rock star for 5 minutes. Throughout her Grease section, she would say: “A few of us have made buddies which have lasted 40 years, and I’ve a pal like that. Didi, are you there?” I’d be sitting within the center and I’d say: “Yeah I’m!” And the individuals would go berserko. All people’d be screaming and screaming. I’d come on stage and say to the viewers: “Isn’t she probably the most stunning individual you’ve ever seen in your life?” And we might do Summer season Nights collectively. After all, I might by no means bear in mind the lyrics, nevertheless it didn’t matter. It was a lot enjoyable.

She would at all times ship me stunning orchids on my birthday. This 12 months I acquired very sick and was within the hospital for 2 months. After I acquired house I referred to as her and she or he stated: “I heard from so-and-so you have been sick. Why didn’t you inform me?” The following day, I acquired stunning orchids from her. Nicely, the day earlier than she died, a kind of orchid buds fell down, and I simply had a sense that that meant one thing. Then positive sufficient I acquired the decision that she had gone.

In Grease, Frenchy needs Sandy to be a Pink Girl, and Rizzo says: “She seems to be too pure to be pink.” And that purity, that sweetness, that magnificence, I noticed that the very first second I met her. That was the story of our friendship: pure coronary heart, pure love.

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