I was very saddened by the recent news of Olivia Newton-John's passing. I had been a fan for many years....since childhood, actually.
Today, I want to share this article from an issue of People magazine, dated July 31, 1978. I bought this magazine when it was new, and have kept it all these years:
***Post Addition - August 11, 2022***
In the past, I have posted about collecting "Topps" brand trading cards, including my sets for the films, The Black Hole and Star Wars. There was also a series of cards for the film, Grease. I collected the entire set of "Series 1" cards, but I am only posting the ones that feature Olivia Newton-John as "Sandy."
Some of the cards had "trivia" about the making of the movie, and "bios" on the film's stars, printed on the reverse side:
The backs of the other cards were actually "puzzle pieces," which could be assembled to make one larger image:
As with most of Topps' trading cards, the Grease series included a sticker inside every pack of cards:
I saved one of the package wrappers:
I also asked the clerk at my local "Stop 'n' Go" store, if I could have the display box which the packs of cards came in:
There was a "Series 2" of the Grease trading cards, but I only bought a couple packs, and never collected the entire set:
***Post Addition - August 13, 2022***
Over the years, Olivia Newton-John had many of her own TV specials. One of them aired on April 14, 1980. The TV Guide for that week featured her on the cover, as well as an article/interview inside:
Here's the TV Guide ad for the television special. It was airing on ABC, immediately after the 52nd Annual Academy Awards, and had a "Hollywood" theme.
The show got an extra mention in a TV Guide "Close Up."
The special aired four months prior to the theatrical release of Olivia's new film, Xanadu. She sings the song, "Suddenly," with Cliff Richard, who had also performed the vocal with her on the film's soundtrack. I recently did a search for this special and found that someone had uploaded it to YouTube, about six years ago. I've included it below, for those who are interested. Just a warning, the audio goes out around the 32:00 mark, but only for about 1 minute, and then it comes back.
***Post Addition - August 15, 2022***
Here's an article/interview with Olivia, from a July 1978 issue of Crawdaddy magazine.
Her answer to the last question she was asked is very sad, in retrospect.
***Post Addition - August 17, 2022***
In November of 1978, Crazy magazine did a send up of the movie, Grease, and featured caricatures of Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta on the cover. Crazy was similar in style to Mad and Cracked magazines, and was published by Marvel Comics from 1973 to 1983.
This ad from the May 10, 1980 issue of TV Guide, was promoting Grease on cable television:
And this ad appeared in the November 7, 1981 issue of TV Guide. It was the first time that Grease was shown on "Free TV."
The same issue featured a special "Close Up" on the film:
I posted this ad for Olivia Newton-John's album, Totally Hot, a few years ago. It's from a 1978 issue of New West Magazine, which featured a Disney-related cover story. The release of this album came only a few months after the premiere of Grease, in theaters.
I remember going to see a movie back in 1978 or '79, and the music video for the album's title song played before the film started. The video was filmed in Century City (Los Angeles), at the at the former ABC Entertainment Center.
I also remember the television commercial for the album:
Another one of Olivia Newton-John's television specials, promoted her 1981 album, Physical. It was basically a compilation of music videos, for the songs on the album. Here's an advertisement for the special, from the February 6, 1982 issue of TV Guide.
TV Guide featured a "Close Up" for the special:
And for anyone interested in watching the 40 year-old special in it's entirety, here it is (courtesy of YouTube):
The television special does include her infamous video for the album's title track, "Physical." If anyone wants to view just that one video, here it is:
One of my favorite Olivia Newton-John performances is from her 1978 television special, Olivia. Here's the ad for the special, from the May 13, 1978 issue of TV Guide:
The entire special is available on YouTube, but the performance that's my favorite, is when Olivia, Andy Gibb, and ABBA sing medleys of her songs, as well as their own songs. This segment appears to have been uploaded by the editor of the original show, and it includes extra "behind the scenes" footage, in addition to a stereo audio track, which is not how it would have been originally broadcast.
I was very sad to hear that she passed away. I grew up on her music since the early 1970's. She had a wonderful voice and was very likeable.
Nice tribute, TM!
Ken, I grew up on her music, as well, and had been a fan since the 1970s! I liked pretty much everything that she produced. That isn't always the case when it comes to some of the other artists that I like. For me, she was very unique and special.
Olivia was so darn pretty, and seemed very sweet. Who knows, maybe she was a meanie in real life, but I doubt it! I knew that she'd had cancer, and thought that she must have beat it, but sadly it was too much. I'm sure everybody has lost at least a few people in their lives to cancer, it's so awful. I make playlists for my mom's iPod (which she listens to at the gym, even at the age of 86), and have included a number of Olivia's classics.
Major, from everything I've read, and the interviews I've seen with her, she did seem like an pretty nice person. Apparently, this was her third time with cancer. She had it in the nineties, and beat it. Then it recurred later in life, but did not disclose that to the public. This time, it had spread to the bones in her back and she was supposedly misdiagnosed with "sciatica." I have lost loved ones to cancer. I would love nothing more than to see a cure for it happen within my lifetime. We can only hope.
That is so cool that you have included Olivia in your mom's "workout" playlist. I hope "Physical" is on that list! :-)
Major, I should have also mentioned, just in case you and Ken are "following" post comments....and you are interested, I have added some more items to this post.
My impression from interviews of her that she was a positive person with a great attitude about life.
These bubble-gum Topps cards are great. I always loved collecting cards when I was young. I like the detailed information on the back of these cards as well. That's really great you got the display box too. I really like that.
Do you know how many series they did of "Grease"? Was it only two series or were there more? Thanks for the update, TM!
Ken, I have gotten that impression about her, as well. She was especially positive in an interview in February of this year, talking about her cancer resurfacing for the third time, and the pain associated with it. I found that interview with her to be very inspiring.
As for the Topps trading cards, I believe there was just a Series 1 and Series 2, for "Grease." At least, that is all that appears to be out there on ebay.
Just an FYI, I added even more to this post, earlier today.
I didn't know Stockard Channing had her own show on TV and it was called "Stockard Channing". How did I miss that?
I see that same night they were showing "Five Million Years to Earth" and Dark Passage with Humphrey Bogart, both great films.
Reading the article, I laughed when one critic described her as "a borderline talent whose vocals are so often lacking in character that she makes The Carpenters sound like they have soul". An insult to both Olivia Newton John and the Carpenters. Both were very talented and had music people liked. Never was a fan of critics. Most of them get it wrong at the time of their assessment.
Thanks for another update, TM!
Ken, I really don't understand why that critic would have said that. Perhaps he/she was just jealous of Olivia's talent!
I remember watching Stockard Channing's show. She actually had two, but the second one was kind of a reworking of the first one. They kept the same theme song and her character's first name, but changed the title of the show and some other details. I just looked it up and I see that they've released it on DVD. I just might have to pick that up!
I saw her in concert in 1980 or 81. While I wasn't a super fan, you could not deny the talent and power in her voice. RIP.
MRaymond, wow, that's cool that you got to see her in concert. I remember when she had a "residency" for a while, at a theater in one of the hotels in Las Vegas. I had a friend who was surprised that I didn't go to see her perform, while she was there. Now I wish that I had.
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