Olivia Newton-John Dies: ‘Grease’ Costar Stockard Channing Remembers Her in Touching Tribute

by Caitlin Berard

On Monday, the world was devastated to learn that pop icon and Grease star Olivia Newton-John had died at the age of 73 after a long and difficult battle with breast cancer. According to her husband, John Easterling, she “passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California surrounded by family and friends.”

The tragic news of her death was met with an overwhelming outpouring of grief and admiration. Olivia Newton-John touched countless lives and inspired millions with her undeniable charm and unfailingly positive outlook. Among those heartbroken by the loss was Newton-John’s Grease co-star Stockard Channing, who played the brash yet endearing leader of the Pink Ladies, Betty Rizzo.

“I don’t know if I’ve known a lovelier human being,” Channing told People. “Olivia was the essence of summer – her sunniness, her warmth and her grace are what always comes to mind when I think of her. I will miss her enormously.”

Stockard Channing was just one of Olivia Newton-John’s Grease co-stars to share an emotional tribute to their late friend. Newton-John’s lifelong friend and on-screen love interest, John Travolta, posted his own message of adoration on Instagram.

“My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better,” he wrote. “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! Your Danny, your John!”

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta Once Explained Their Enduring Friendship

The movie musical Grease hit theaters in the summer of 1978 and enjoyed instant success. With its lovable characters, classic songs, and timeless tale of summer romance, it became the most successful film of its kind in history and remains immensely popular to this day.

The obvious chemistry between John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John was a large part of what made the movie so successful, and according to the actors, their friendship stretched far beyond the realm of Rydell High School.

“When you share that kind of meteoric success — and nothing has been able to exceed it — you share a bond,” Travolta explained to People in 2018, adding that he and Newton-John remained in touch. “I’ve been through her having a child, getting divorced, losing her sister. She’s been through my getting married, having children. It’s wonderful and full of shared memories.”

“We did something life-changing, making that film,” Newton-John added. “[At the premiere] you got the feeling from the energy that something was happening. It was a huge response. I feel grateful to be a part of that and to have worked with [John Travolta]. We’ve stayed friends ever since.”