Friday, February 27, 2009

Olivia Newton John

Olivia Newton John

Olivia Newton-John AO, OBE (born 26 September 1948 in Cambridge, England) is an English-born, Australian singer and actress. She is an avid activist for both environmental issues and breast cancer awareness. Her business interests have included launching several product lines for Koala Blue and opening the Gaia Retreat and Spa in Australia. To date she has sold over 100 million records.

Olivia Newton-John was born in Cambridge, England, to a Welsh-born father, Brinley ("Bryn") Newton-John, and a German-born mother, Irene Born. Newton-John is the youngest of three children, following brother Hugh, a doctor, and sister Rona, an actress once married to Grease co-star Jeff Conaway. Newton-John's mother was the eldest child of Max Born, a German Nobel prize–winning physicist. Newton-John's father was an MI5 officer on the Enigma project at Bletchley Park and was the officer who took Rudolph Hess into custody during World War II. Newton-John's family emigrated in 1954 to Melbourne, Australia, where her father worked as a Professor of German and became the Master of Ormond College at the University of Melbourne.

At 14, Newton-John formed a short-lived all-girl band, Sol Four, with three classmates and often performed in a coffee shop owned by her brother-in-law. She soon became a regular on local Australian radio and television shows including HSV-7's The Happy Show, where she performed as Lovely Livvy. She also appeared on the Go Show, where she met her lifelong friends Pat Carroll and John Farrar. (Carroll and Farrar eventually married.) She entered a talent contest on the television program Sing, Sing, Sing, hosted by 1960s Australian icon Johnny O'Keefe, performing the songs "Anyone Who Had A Heart" and "Everything's Coming Up Roses." She won the contest and received a trip to England as the prize. Initially, she was reluctant to go, but her mother encouraged her to broaden her horizons.

Newton-John recorded her first single, "Till You Say You'll Be Mine" b/w "Forever," for England's Decca Records in 1966. Newton-John was homesick in England because she missed Australia and her then-boyfriend, Ian Turpie, with whom she co-starred in an independently produced Australian telefilm, Funny Things Happen Down Under. Her mother cancelled trips back to Australia that Newton-John would repeatedly book. Newton-John's outlook changed when Pat Carroll also moved to England. The two formed a duo and toured nightclubs in Europe until Carroll's visa expired, forcing her to return to Australia. Newton-John remained in England to pursue solo work.

Newton-John was recruited for the group "Tomorrow" — the brainchild of American producer Don Kirshner, creator of The Monkees. In 1970, the group recorded an eponymous album and starred in a "science fiction musical" film also named after the group. The project failed and the group was quickly disbanded.