Olivia Newton-John Opens up about ‘Summer Nights’ and her Sister’s Death

By: Jerrica Tisdale - April 12, 2014

Olivia Newton-John suffered a devastating, personal tragedy in 2013: her sister, Rona, died of a brain tumor. This forced Newton-John to reevaluate her life and career, which meant she would put her Las Vegas residency on hold.

When she talked to an NBC News reporter, featured on the Today show, on Friday morning (April 11), Newton-John reflected on how Rona’s death affected her life. “I was supposed to start here a year ago, and I couldn’t sing, which was the first time for me that I ever thought that I couldn’t sing.”

However, as time passed, Newton-John found strength again, and some of the wounds from her sister’s death began to heal. Finally, she was prepared to set Las Vegas on fire. Newton-John’s residency, called Summer Nights, at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino began on April 8 and ends on August 30th.

Additionally, Newton-John expressed her excitement about performing on such a big arena as the Las Vegas stage. “It’s a fun place to be and it’s the place everyone wants to be now, you know, as an entertainer,” she stated.

The Summer Nights show takes audience members through a journey of Newton-John’s singing career, which includes hits from Grease and Xanadu, her most popular acting roles. Newton-John is scheduled to do five shows a week on the tour, and proceeds from her performances will go to her cancer and wellness center in Australia. The Grease singer survived breast cancer after being diagnosed in 1992.

Newton-John credits her sister with giving her the strength to continue to perform and take on the Vegas stage.

“She always wanted me to sing, always encouraged me from when I was 15 to do that. So here I am, and yeah, it’s going to be special.”

With over 50 years in the music and entertainment industry, Newton-John has had great success, including winning four Grammys awards. Her longevity proves she’s a timeless icon.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Jerrica Tisdale

About the Author

Jerrica TisdaleJerrica Tisdale is a writer. She knows an awkward amount of 'fun facts.' Midwestern girl to the core, which means she has a love-hate relationship with winter. Hemingway and Buffy are kind of her idols. Tweet her @jtwritergirl

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  • Rick

    Try well over 40 years in the business……close to 50 years now since she was on British TV when she was 15 or 16 years old. Even if you are only counting when the US noticed her…….that would be 1971…..her first hit there……that is 43 years ago. Good luck to Livvy in Vegas.

    • Jerrica

      Amended. Thanks.

  • Michael McKenzie

    Ok, MissTisdale, I get the Sandra Dee comment — but that comes across at the very least unkind to Miss Dee remaining family. Please consider others before adding what may seem like a cute tag to end a story.

    • Jerrica

      I totally get what you’re saying. No disrespect meant to Sandra Dee. I will change it. Thanks for the feedback, Michael.

      • Michael McKenzie

        Jerrica, thanks for your reply. And no disrespect to you too! You’re in the public eye yourself, not an easy thing. All the best to you and to Olivia!

  • Chuck

    She still looks good, but was so hot back in the day.

  • k

    The only thing that bothers me about this is how many “blonde” women who were so popular when they were younger have such trouble dealing with getting older. Yes, the guys aren’t interested in you anymore…it’s like they need sooooo much attention. It’s almost becoming textbook. I have a daughter and we go to these school events. Almost all the time, there’s an aging blonde woman who expects / complains because her daughter isn’t the center of the spotlight or complains about something with the school—drama queens basically. Yes, she’s singing in Vegas- but it’s not because her sister died……sorry to hear that but notice how she has to add that to try to make sure her performances in Vegas will go well. She’s insecure because her voice isn’t what it used to be and she’s playing all her cards. If it wasn’t for what I’ve seen in the schools with these school events–I’d have more sympathy. I was volunteering at a school carnival recentlyl–and at the cake walk was this older petite blonde who showed up late and then told everybody what they were doing wrong—then afterwards got upset because her daughter didn’t stop in at the cake walk so she could make sure she’d win……unbelievable…..it’s happened AGAIN.. Then there’s the other blond who all last year wanted sympathy from EVERYONE because she couldn’t stay home anymore and HAD to work. Oh, boo hooo…………

    • Mike

      you definitely have a blond girl hang-up. lol. were you beaten up by a blonde? just so you know, i saw Olivia sing this year in Palm Springs and her voice is amazing and strong and she can still belt the songs out. The money from her shows in Vegas is going to a cancer center? can you read? I think you have the problems, not Olivia.
      LOL.

  • Dana Lavin

    I’m so sorry, Olivia. Love, Dana Lavin from Yonkers, NY.

  • Dr_Zarkov

    ‘Please Mr. Please’ is still one of my favorite songs. Oliva’s voice is so sweet. She is still very much loved and always will be. I just saw a jukebox the other day at a burger joint, although I need to go back and see if they have B17 :O))

  • disqus_U7okUHgU6C

    I worked with her ex sister in law 35 years ago when she was married to Matt. A small connection. She was sure a cutie!

  • jackmeyhoffer

    She used to be so cute. Time is very cruel.

  • J Roy

    Such an amazing person as well as singer. She is STILL “Totally Hot”