While some may know her as Sandy from “Grease” and others as Kira from “Xanadu,” among other things, Olivia Newton-John (ONJ) was America’s adoptive love. But while men around the world were imagining how they would respond to Sandy’s iconic phrase “…tell me about it, Stud,” love proved to be an elusive thing for the Aussie beauty.
Olivia Newton-John was born on September 26, 1948 in Cambridge, United Kingdom, the youngest of three children of Cambridge professor Brinley Newton-John and his wife Irene. In 1954, the Newton-Johns moved to Melbourne, Australia, where Brinley Newton-John worked at the University of Melbourne, teaching German (per Vogue). Olivia showed early singing talent and later formed the all-girl singing group Sol Four (per Only Olivia), which saw her get her first real break: she took home the title of a popular local talent show called “Sing Sing Sing” in April 1964 (via Daily Mail).
Sadly, Olivia Newton-John passed away from cancer on August 8, 2022. Here are the partners and husbands she has shared her life with.
A star on the rise
Winning an early talent show landed Olivia Newton-John a contract to appear regularly on Australia’s Channel 7 television network’s “Time for Terry” (per the Daily Mail). Everything after that moved on to “Olivia,” with the singer-actress continuing to receive awards for her singing talent. Then, in 1966, Newton-John moved from Australia to the bigger and brighter lights of London, England (per Only Olivia).
Newton-John’s first single to be released in the UK, ‘Till You Say You’ll Be Mine’, practically took off, leaving the singer dejected and homesick for her then-love Ian Turpie. Turpie and ONJ, an actor who starred opposite Newton-John in 1965’s Funny Things Happen Down Under, had a wacky romance that spilled over into real life. Olivia was so smitten with Turpie that she tried to get a return ticket from London to Melbourne without the consent of her mother, who lived with her in London.
Olivia Newton-John later admitted that Ian Turpie was in fact the first love of her life, going so far as to be by his bedside when he died of cancer in 2012 (via Loving Now). However, Turpie and Newton-John’s relationship did not last very long. As her star continued to rise in London, in 1968, then 17-year-old Olivia Newton-John caught the eye of Shadows guitarist Bruce Welch. A whirlwind romance ensued, and the couple became engaged shortly thereafter. And although the relationship would last five years, the couple never really made it down the aisle (per New Idea) with ONJ calling it quits in 1972.
However, according to Marie Claire, the breakup wasn’t a clean one. Welch attempted suicide just days later. “I told everyone I was going away for the weekend and not bothered to call me, but I forgot the window cleaner,” he said in a 2004 interview.[He] found me on Tuesday…I had taken the pills on Sunday.” Welch would continue to recover, but not before Newton-John disappeared from his life entirely.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Chemistry with John Travolta – but no romance
Meanwhile, Olivia Newton-John’s career continued on its upward trajectory, and the singer released her fourth studio album in 1974. Around this time, Newton-John began a relationship with Lee Kramer, a shoe importer-turned-manager (per Marie Claire). After a chance meeting between the two while vacationing in France in 1973, the couple began dating almost immediately. In a 1978 interview with Rolling Stone, Kramer described their meeting: “We met, and that was it. I rushed back at all costs on the same plane as you.”
Kramer and ONJ were together through Olivia Newton-John’s image shift from healthy to sexy when the actor signed on to play Sandy Olsson in Grease in 1978. Initially apprehensive about taking on the role of Sandy as her music career brought her increasing popularity, Newton-John rolled the dice and dived into the role. And while the on-screen chemistry between John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John is palpable, she debunked rumors of an alleged romance, saying: “We had a bit of a crush on each other, but I was dating someone else [Kramer] and John was going through a difficult time in his personal life. In fact, nothing happened.”
A strange couple
Fueled by the overwhelming reaction to Sandy’s transformation at the end of Grease, Olivia Newton-John risked her next album Physical. Aided by a music video showing the singer training with overly shiny bodybuilders (and some rather average Joes), Newton-John felt like she could do anything and said of the time: “All of a sudden, when I wanted to be outrageous, I could” (via Marie-Claire). However, her relationship with Kramer would not survive the filming of 1980’s “Xanadu.” During filming of the roller-skating epic, ONJ fell in love with 19-year-old backup dancer Matt Lattanzi ( via HITC).
Newton-John, then 30, fell head over heels in love with the Extra, and the couple were wed in 1984. Chloe, Olivia’s only child, was born to the couple just two years later in 1986. And while the marriage lasted about a decade, it seems like the couple was a normal odd couple, according to a 1995 article. He enjoyed outdoor activities with his male friends while she preferred quieter pursuits like meditation. And while their relationship got off to a great start, it didn’t last long into the ’90s as trauma after trauma shattered the marriage. ONJ’s niece, Tottie Goldsmith, said he supported her during her cancer diagnosis, but it wasn’t long before their differences got too big. “The people she’s dating now are very spiritual,” Goldsmith said. “She must find her equal.”
Devastating setbacks for the Australian singer
In July 1992, Olivia Newton-John received a devastating double whammy. According to Marie Claire, the singer’s father passed away, which unfortunately quickly led to an unexpected breast cancer diagnosis for her. Newton-John quickly underwent a partial mastectomy along with breast reconstruction. During her recovery, the singer founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Center in Victoria, Australia and used the experiences she had to help others.
However, her marriage to Matt Lattanzi would not stand the strain of her recovery. In something straight out of a soap opera, Lattanzi fell in love with the couple’s 23-year-old babysitter, Cindy Jessup, in 1994 (per the Daily Mail). Newton-John later confronted Lattanzi about the situation. Lattanzi admitted the whole fiasco and moved in with Jessup, with Newton-John quickly ending the marriage. Lattanzi married the sitter two years later.
Olivia Newton-John’s ex lost at sea?
And while that bit of soap opera drama would be enough for anyone, no one could have prepared Olivia Newton-John for what was about to happen next. Shortly after Lattanzi’s divorce, the singer began a relationship with cinematographer Patrick McDermott. The couple dated for almost a decade until McDermott disappeared on June 30, 2005 … (per the Daily Mail).
During a promotional tour of Australia earlier that year, ONJ learned that McDermott had disappeared while on a fishing trip. According to the Daily Mail, McDermott simply got up and disappeared during a boat trip with 22 other people. It wasn’t until almost a week later that someone realized he was gone when McDermott didn’t show up for a family celebration. A search of the boat turned up McDermott’s passport, wallet and car keys, but nothing else. His car was found at a San Pedro Marine in Los Angeles where he had parked it before leaving.
Where on earth is Patrick McDermott?
What exactly happened to Patrick McDermott is still in the stars. According to the New York Post, a year-long Coast Guard investigation has found no wrongdoing. In fact, they found “no evidence of criminal activity, suicide, accident, or hoax in McDermott’s disappearance.” Another, separate investigation at the time revealed that the cameraman was missing at sea.
However, not everyone believes in the company line. Conspiracy theorists claim that McDermott is not only alive, but living out his days in a small fishing village in Mexico. Olivia Newton-John remained in a state of confusion about the situation until the day of her death. And while it would have been easy, even defensible, for ONJ to throw in the old towel, love would find its way back to America’s sweetheart.
Olivia Newton-John found love again
In 2007, Olivia Newton-John began dating John Easterling, a natural health businessman and current CEO of the Amazon Herb Company (via The US Sun). The couple met in the early ’90s (per People). However, it wouldn’t be until a decade and a half later before the two would make it official. According to Us Weekly, Newton-John and Easterling became an item when, after spending the night at her place, he got into a car accident and injured his spine. Easterling refused medical attention at the hospital, simply returned to ONJ and never left.
The couple married in 2008 and have been together ever since, with Easterling at the singer’s side throughout her decades-long battle with breast cancer. Just three days before her death, ONJ posted a final picture of the pair on Instagram (via Page Six), a beautiful epilogue to a life spent in search of love.