‘Grease’: Olivia Newton-John Explained John Travolta’s Attitude After His Girlfriend Died
Anyone who grew up in the ’70s knew all about Grease. The classic musical starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta launched them to ultra-stardom. And Newton-John talks about her experience in the musical in her memoir, Don’t Stop Believin’.
Within the book, she discusses her first time meeting Travolta and what his demeanor was like after his girlfriend, Diana Hyland died. Here’s what she said.
John Travolta’s girlfriend, Diana Hyland, died prior to filming ‘Grease’
Travolta was the perfect actor to play Danny in Grease, the greaser who steals Sandy’s heart. But prior to filming, he was dealing with a major loss. His girlfriend, Hyland, died of breast cancer.
Hyland was a successful actor, as People notes she starred in Burke’s Law and Smoky, and she also starred in a movie alongside Travolta titled The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. Oddly enough, Hyland played Travolta’s mother in the film.
Years prior to her death, she had a double mastectomy. And her death occurred quickly. “She didn’t know she was going to die for sure until two weeks before,” John explained to People in 1977. “And when I first knew her, there was a possibility it would never happen.”
When Travolta knew Hyland was going to die, he flew home to be with her. The day prior to her death, they walked around a garden together. And she later died with him by her side. “I felt the breath go out of her,” he said.
“I have never been more in love with anyone in my life,” he added. “I thought I was in love before, but I wasn’t. From the moment I met her I was attracted. We were like two maniacs talking all the time on the set of Bubble. After a month it became romantic.”
Olivia Newton-John explained John Travolta’s attitude at the time
When Newton-John met Travolta on the set of Grease, she knew about Hyland’s death. And she discussed it in her memoir.
“He was a triple threat — acting, dancing, and singing — plus all that charism and incredible sexy movie-star looks,” Newton-John wrote. “His sexiness was innocent, but the truth was those gorgeous baby-blue eyes had so much behind them, including great pain. Tragically, he had just lost his beloved girlfriend, actress Diana Hyland, to breast cancer. He remained sweet, open, very sincere, and vulnerable.”
There was a lot of chemistry between Newton-John and Travolta on set, too. But they never took things to the next level. “We were both with other people when we were filming and I think, respectfully, it just didn’t happen,” she said.
John Travolta’s wife, Kelly Preston, also died of cancer
Hyland isn’t Travolta’s only brush with loss. Travolta’s wife, Kelly Preston, died in 2020. Together, they sustained a 29-year love story and had three kids together, Entertainment Tonight reports.
As for how they first met, Travolta and Preston connected back in 1989 while filming The Experts. While Preston was married at the time, she ultimately got a divorce and pursued relations with Travolta. “I was not that happily married, let’s put it that way,” Preston said. “I was really with the wrong person.”
The love birds finally married in 1991. And Preston later gave sage advice for sustaining a successful marriage. “I think it’s communication, keeping it fresh, checking in with each other and evolving,” Preston explained while on Good Morning America in 2018. “You change so you want to change together. Keep it fun, it doesn’t just happen on its own. You’ve gotta work on it.”
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