Beloved singer and actor Olivia Newton-John first became an international pop star in the 1970s, and her fame only grew in the following decades. At one point, she tried so hard to not be recognized that she donned an interesting wig and makeup combo.
Olivia Newton-John rose to prominence in the early 1970s
Olivia Newton-John first burst onto the international scene in 1974 as a competitor on the annual Eurovision Song Contest. She represented the UK and sang her song, “Long Live Love.” She ultimately lost out to none other than Swedish band ABBA.
Newton-John became a household name in 1978 thanks to her starring role in Grease opposite John Travolta. Their duet from the movie, “You’re the One That I Want,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming Newton-John’s third No. 1 single. Her heartfelt “Hopelessly Devoted to You” reached No. 3 on the chart.
She once wore a wig in public to keep disguised
After the explosion of Grease in 1978, Newton-John couldn’t leave the house without being recognized and swarmed by fans. At one point, she needed to don a disguise just to go outside.
Her nephew, Brett Goldsmith, spoke about his aunt’s unique disguise in a 2022 interview with People. She was on tour in Paris in 1978, and when she didn’t want to be noticed in public, she had to improvise.
“She had a makeup artist and costume designer come to the hotel to make her up in disguise,” he recounted. “She chose a Cleopatra wig and makeup and some crazy coat. It took hours to do, and when she was finally ready to leave we walked out of the hotel thinking we had fooled everyone.”
Fans, however, were quick to see through her look. “Clearly there was no disguising her, and nobody was fooled,” he laughed. “We spent the next hour racing in the car from the photographers and fans.”
She was beloved by her family
Goldsmith went on to remember who his aunt was as a relative and not as a world-famous singer.
“Other than being the wonderful caring person who always called and asked about how life was going for you, she was the best fun to be around, humble and funny,” he recalled.
“Even into her 60s and beyond, everywhere she went in the world both young and old were drawn to her,” he concluded. “I was lucky to be in her family, and I was proud that she recorded some of my songs and we wrote together. I also got to photograph her, and we always had a blast together. She is a rare human that can never be replaced nor forgotten.”
John Travolta remembered the singer
“My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better,” he said. “Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever!”