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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Thursday's Connector of the Day: Olivia Newton-John

November 17th, 2009
09:17 PM ET

Most people know her for her role opposite John Travolta in the international smash-hit film "Grease". With a soundtrack that includes the unforgettable songs, “You’re The One That I Want,” “Summer Nights” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” Olivia Newton John has been in the spotlight for over thirty years. 

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/17/olivia.newton.john.jpg caption="Olivia Newton-John"]

Building on her success from the film Grease, Newton-John’s 1981 record “Physical” set many trends in the 1980s. Wearing neon-leg warmers in the accompanying music video, this fashion trend soon became a staple in everyone’s wardrobe. Like the ubiquity of her leg-warmers, Billboard named the multi-platinum Physical the most recognizable and successful song of the 1980s.

Newton-John found her stardom reached heights she never even imagined. However in 1992 poised for a comeback tour, her life came crashing-down after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought and survived this episode and found a new casting call for her career.

Following her struggles, she became one of the world’s leading voices and advocates for breast-cancer research and survivors throughout the world. This is a role that she proudly reprises to this day calling for early screenings and detections.

Last year Olivia married John Easterling in South America and the two have since become involved together in a business that produces natural remedy products from the Amazon. They both regularly travel to South America to raise awareness of deforestation.

Olivia Newton John will be our Connector of the Day on Thursday and will talk about her experiences filming Grease, her music career, her fight with breast cancer and her work to save the rainforest.

soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. JJ Henson

    Hi Ms. Newton-John,

    I've been a big fan since the seventies. I've seen all your films, and my personal favorite is "Twist of Fate". It's been my dream to watch you perform live, but I never got the chance to watch your shows. Are you going on tour anytime soon?

    November 18, 2009 at 11:44 am | Reply
  2. Rose

    I admire your work to save the rainforest. I have taught about the rainforest during my teaching years and the it is certainly one of the most valuable resources of land on Earth.

    My question is: What was that very first major reason that gave you the push of determination to actually go and do something to save the rainforest, what was it of the rainforest that inspired you?

    Thank you and thanks for all the music you gave us 🙂

    November 18, 2009 at 11:52 am | Reply
  3. Angelovzky

    Did John Denver ever propouse?

    November 18, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  4. Leonard Riggs Jr

    I've been a fan so long Olivia seems like an extended member of my family!

    My question: If you could pick 2 albums of yours that you think was your best work, what would they be(I'm talking solo studio albums).?(and by the way, I'd pick Totally Hot and Physical)

    November 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Reply
  5. Brenda Yocum

    Hello! Olivia, Congratulations on your marriage and your future endeavors of the Wellness Cancer Centre in Australia. How you feel about how they are screening woman a certain age for a mammogram and not at 40 anymore not unless you are at risk? My thing is cancer can occur without it being hereditary or warning for that matter so what is the key to do now if they take it away from us? Women seems to get the wrong deal about their bodies and it is a choice that whatever decisions we make such as a mammogram or pro choice about abortion we can make our own decisions. I had my first mammogram since I had my first child at 33 and I am 42 and be 43 on Dec 2 so almost 10 years now so why stop having my mammogram every February like I been doing if I been doing this that long. I saw you in concert in 2000 in Columbus, Ohio and its been a dream of mines to meet you some day but I guess it will never happen but if you ever decide to come to Kentucky maybe we will meet someday which will fulfill my dreams of meeting you and the dream is sealed.

    November 18, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  6. Ian

    Olivia; you starred with the legendary Gene Kelly in the movie Xandau. Which, if memory serves, came out a couple of years after Grease. and like Grease, was a musical. the musical talents of ELO's Jeff Lynne and company created the sound track. I'd like to ask, what was it like to work with Gene and did you learn anything from him that you still carry with you today?
    Thank you.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  7. Mark

    Hi Olivia,

    Any chance we might get a new pop album from you in 2010?! btw absolutely love christmas wish...its become a holiday favorite at my house!

    November 18, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  8. Raymond

    Hi Olivia...it seems I grew up in the 70s to your wonderful music...wanted to ask you, if there is a particular song of yours that is your favorite? Also, any favourite song of John Denver's? I believe you were on the vocals for Fly Away with John Denver and its a lovely touching song. Any song that you wish you had recorded originally?? Any that was offered to you but got away? Keep going girl !!

    November 18, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  9. simonetta

    Hello Olivia

    I am a fan of you from a long time and your voice is fantastic!
    What I ask you is how you get to do everything you do. Where do you get that energy? You appear always to be so gentle and sweet but I think determined too!
    Thank you for all you do.

    November 18, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  10. Daniel T.

    My Question: In your biography above it says that you married someone named John last year. So is his name now John Newton John?

    Another interesting thought. If his last name were John, your name could be Olivia Newton John-John.

    November 18, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  11. Nicolas Uribe

    Olivia, you look great!
    Your youthful disposition, vitality, courage and commitment serve as inspiration to us all. In short, a life well lived! We love you!

    November 18, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  12. Bolo

    "Last year Olivia married her husband John" – huh?

    November 18, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  13. Rita

    Do you miss Malibu – your roots were there for 30 years – all of yr friends, etc and you JUST got up and moved to FLA for love. Do you miss Malibu?

    November 18, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  14. Jim

    Your work with MAY sky is great, we've sto[[ed ho[ing for a comprehensivw box set, but before you retire, will you bookend your career with CD's collaborating with Barry Gibb and one last JOHN FARRAR project?

    November 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  15. Gil

    Broadway an Hollywood buzz was that you were THE most obvious choice for the lead in Mamma Mia – what happened ? Meryl is bankable, but that film would have been a hit on its own and you were THE perfect fit for the role? What happened? did you ever have discussions with Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson? You go way back in friendship with ABBA – did Benny and Bjorn not have any say in casting? It was such a shame taht you did not get this lead. Can you expand on it ?

    November 18, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  16. Michael

    Dear Olivia- I have been a huge fan since I was a young kid in the 70's– pre and post-Grease. Your music, including the old stuff continues to have an impact on many peoples' lives. Family and other initiatives permitting, any chance we'll get to see you perform more often in the coming years? The best of luck and happiness in the future.

    November 18, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  17. John Ingram

    When will your retrospective box set be released in the US?

    November 18, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  18. andrew taylor

    Dear Ms. Newton John

    Glad to hear that things are going well in your world. Loved your cover of "Big & Strong". Was heartbroken when you got married, but glad you are happy.


    November 18, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  19. Hsien

    Hi Olivia
    I am your huge fan from Taiwan. Is there any plan to tour asia or Japan in the near future?
    Indigo is one of my favorite albums of yours, would you consider to make this album like a series, Indigo 2, 3,.... I am so much in love with your voice and feeling put in these songs.
    thanks for your great music to be with for almost 30 years and what you do for breast cancer and other charity, you are simply the MAGIC

    fan from Taiwan

    November 18, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Reply
  20. Vincent Morris

    Hello Olivia,
    After so many years I am so glad to hear about you and what you are doing. May the good Lord bless you and yours in a very special way.
    I wish you success in all your undertakings. Keep going!

    November 18, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  21. Michael

    Hi Olivia: Will you ever release a box set of your best/favourite/obsure recordings?

    Do you plan to record with Chloe in the future?

    November 18, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  22. jadrianos

    I am a Brazilian guy who lives in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, who happens to be your fan since my early youth. After the movie Grease I sent you a letter asking you to marry me. Although I am married now, I am still waiting for your answer.
    Knowing that you get involved in a so important causes, makes me admire you even more now.
    What do you think about the new studies about the breast cancer exams?
    The Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva decided to make the first move on a proposal to stop the emissions of gases to the atmosphere, which include stopping the deforestation of the Amazon.
    Do you plan to get involved in this proposal in anyway?

    November 18, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  23. Craig


    FYI when I was in the 2nd grade I asked my mother how old I needed to be to get married. She thought I was in love with my school teacher but in reality it was you. Your greatest hits album was my first and I remember opening it up an listening to you sing while looking at your photo on the inside cover. Funny what we remember from that long ago isn't it? Keep up the good work in all that you do.

    November 18, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  24. RT

    Your marriage to John Easterling and philanthropic work have understandably taken priority over your music career in the past couple years. Any estimates as to when fans might expect a new album or box set?

    November 18, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Reply
  25. Javier Edwards

    Olivia Newton-John is, without a doubt, one of the great pop-country singers ever. In addition she seems to be a really nice person commited to charities and helping valuable causes. During the last years she has released nice, low-key recordings so I would like to know if she has any plans to record a more high profile pop album. I'm sure that fans all over the world would really like to hear an album where she works with John Farrar, David Foster, Barry Gibb and other top producers (included Amy Grant, of course).

    November 18, 2009 at 5:39 pm | Reply
  26. Jody

    Hi Olivia!
    I've always been a great fan of yours. I love your music and your movies. I certainly appreciate all your work in making women more aware of breast cancer. I go for regular checkups. I'm also doing my bit to save the rainforest, particularly in Costa Rica. I've helped buy some of the land in the Esquinas Rainforest in Costa Rica which is then donated so it can be incorporated into the Piedras Blancas National Park.
    2 Questions: How did you get into that black outfit you wore at the end of Grease? Was the skating difficult for you in the film Xanadu?

    November 18, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  27. John (JC)

    Hi Olivia,

    Hope all is well!

    My question to you is....with so many other singers from the 80's era (Cyndi L, Donna S, etc) coming out w/ CD's of mostly upbeat, club music & so far they have been pretty well received....any chance you will come out with a 'upbeat club' CD or complete the recordings of the ones you have with your nephew Brett G.? I wish you well w/ any of your music and I know you enjoy cranking them out when you go – we sure do!!

    November 18, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Reply
  28. Belinda

    Hi Olivia,

    I have been a fan since I was 8(30yrs now). I wondering if you have ever thought of recording a gospel/spiritual album? I also wanted to add that I love your Christmas Cd(Christmas WIsh) it is one of my favorites-Christmas on my Radio is one of my favorite songs from it. Thank you for being a great roll model. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    November 18, 2009 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  29. Smita

    Hi Olivia,
    Good to hear things are going well for you, congratulations on your wedding and the wonderful work you are doing in amazon.
    I am a big fan of yours since the Grease days and still croon to the heart touching "Hopelessly Devoted to you" number.
    You are a beam of strength and spirit for all women, having survived so much in your life.
    All the very best for future.
    My question to you is "Would we se any new pop numbers from you in the near future. Under what name are the natural remedy products from Amazon marketed and where are they available?" Thanks.

    November 18, 2009 at 6:38 pm | Reply
  30. Susanna

    Hi Olivia.

    I hope, you and John had a good time in Germany in October.
    Will we see you and John next year for a renewed Amazon Herb Summit again here in Germany?

    Love of greetings from Cologne,

    November 18, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  31. Ed

    Hi Olivia,

    As a long-time fan, I always look forward to your new music. Have you decided as to when you'll be recording your next album? If so, what style of music will it be?


    November 18, 2009 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  32. rachel

    hello olivia,

    first time movie i watched grease i dont know the exact date cox i was 7yrs old that time in Philippines. that movie became my favorite since then. until now i never forget the movie and songs and speciall you and john travolta. Im right now in minneapolis minnesota i hope you will visit here someday.

    November 18, 2009 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  33. Janice

    I want to share with people your extraordinary support of the Animals Asia Foundation and helping to raise awareness of bear bile farming in Asia. Your global awareness, time and commitment to these types of causes helps in so many ways and too often we forget to say THANK YOU!!

    Volunteer AAF

    November 18, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Reply
  34. Dennis

    What do you think of the recent announcement that Mammograms will no longer be suggested for women until age 50? Who do you think would be behind this move? Is it medical or political?

    November 18, 2009 at 8:31 pm | Reply
  35. Lisa Buchanan

    Hi Olivia

    You're my cousin! Well, 4th cousin to be honest.

    Your mum and my grandmother (Lena, sister of Ralph) are cousins. You always remain a legend for Grease!

    Lisa x

    November 18, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Reply
  36. Luke Brighty

    Hi Olivia,

    On your last visit to Sydney, you mentioned that you and John would be bringing Zamu down under in January 2010. While in Australia, are you planning any concerts?



    November 18, 2009 at 11:26 pm | Reply
  37. RT

    Do you ever go back and listen to your old recordings? If so, what is the experience like for you?

    November 18, 2009 at 11:53 pm | Reply
  38. RT

    As one of the most popular and successful artists of the '70s and '80s, have you ever considered recording an album of retro-style recordings that recall the sound of those eras?

    November 18, 2009 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  39. Tammy

    Hi Olivia!

    I'm from Indpls, Indiana. It's been too long since you've last performed here. So you need to come back again! Hopefully in 2010?! I have liked the 'duets' cds you've done so far. Would you consider doing another one with just all female singers from different musical backgrounds?!
    Say if it was Rock, Melissa Etheridge; Country, Carrie Underwood; Contemp. Christian, Amy Grant to name a few and have the proceeds go toward your charities. Title it 'Musical Journeys of the Heart, Mind and Soul'. Sounds good to me! Also, Boxset! We fans need the Boxset! Aside from that, THANK YOU for being a part of MY LIFE!

    November 19, 2009 at 12:23 am | Reply
  40. Alex

    First of all, thank you so much for being an inspiration to me for me for many years and for being so kind every time I have met you. My question would be, did you ever get to hear the demo of Stevie Nicks singing " Tied up in promises" I gave a copy to Steve Real a few years ago, and keep forgetting to ask him about that. Also, will we be seeing you again on tour in the future? Thank you again for everything.
    Love always,

    November 19, 2009 at 1:37 am | Reply
  41. bobby

    Will the song you sing on the Kaleidoscope special be released on itunes ?your such a beautiful person inside and out ,I hope you know how many people you have helped get through hard times with your music..

    November 19, 2009 at 2:52 am | Reply
  42. Shari Butzlaff

    Hi Olivia,
    I don't have a question for you, but I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to say hello after the Tunica concert and signing the picture of you and I. It meant so much to me! (I'm the blonde girl that dressed in the Grease jacket) Also, thank you for all that you do for the world, and I hope the love that you give is returned to you times ten! Blessings to you & John...and the poochies too!

    November 19, 2009 at 7:03 am | Reply
  43. Jamal

    Hi Olivia,
    Do you have any plans of performing live in the middle east. I am reside in Dubai and would love to attend one of your concerts! They say that if you believe in something hard in enough, it will happen. Would this ever happen?

    November 19, 2009 at 11:30 am | Reply
  44. Joel Thomas

    Deservedly so, you have accumulated a lot of awards throughout your musical career. With so many American Music Awards, Grammys, People Choice Awards, and an Emmy, etc., where do you keep them all? Do you display them throughout your house or just a few? If it is just a few, which ones made the cut, and why?

    November 19, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  45. Tosca

    Hi Olivia,

    First of all thank you for being so kind to me and other fans when I met you in Cologne in October.
    Since a few years you and your husband John travel the world for many good causes like the preservation of the rainforest and breast cancer awareness. Do you ever have time to explore the countries you visit (in another manner than walking (!) the Great Wall of China)? John has shown you South-America and in particular the rainforests of Peru, have you been able to introduce him to countries (in Europe or maybe even your own Australia?) he had never been to? And how is it to be a globetrotting couple and not be home that often? Since your mother was an accomplished photographer, I am wondering whether you ever take pictures while abroad. And if so, where do you keep them, stored on your pc or in a photo book to show to family and friends?
    And finally not a question, but a suggestion, please do an album with Barry Gibb (you two were awesome at Sound Relief!) and your old buddy John Farrar. Love, Tosca

    November 20, 2009 at 9:36 am | Reply
  46. silvia

    Dear OLIVIA,

    I'd like to know if you are planning to visit Italy. Maybe you'd come here to promote Zamu.

    See you soon.

    November 20, 2009 at 10:09 am | Reply
  47. shaban

    Do these remedies from the rainforest actually work and how effective are they in comparison to modern day medicine?

    November 20, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Reply
  48. Susanna

    Hi Olivia.

    Christmas stands shortly before the door.
    You live now in Florida.
    Where will John and you spend these days?
    Comes the whole family to your new home in Jupiter for celebrate the Christmas days?
    Or will John and you celebrate the days with Chloe in Los Angeles?

    Greetings from Germany,

    November 25, 2009 at 6:56 am | Reply
  49. Keira


    Music is an ever-changing medium and I was wondering which current recording artist do you like and would pay to see in concert??

    Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!!!! 🙂

    November 26, 2009 at 4:48 pm | Reply
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