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Exclusive: Remembering Olivia Newton-John - Her family, Dolly Parton, Sir Cliff and more share emotional memories

Olivia Newton-John's family and friends spoke exclusive to HELLO!

Lily Waddell
Lily WaddellPremium Content Editor
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Olivia Newton-John's family and friends exclusively share personal memories of the late star with HELLO! in our Breast Cancer Awareness Month special.

Her niece Tottie Goldsmith, Dolly Parton and Sir Cliff Richard join Jane Seymour and Dionne Warwick, among others, in celebrating her amazing legacy with touching tributes. When the news was announced of Olivia's sad passing earlier this year, there was an outpouring of grief from both her fans and her legion of celebrity friends.

Olivia Newton-John smiles as she wears denim shirt
Olivia Newton-John's family and friends pay tribute

While her death was undoubtedly a tragedy, Olivia's story is anything but. Her survival for 30 years since her first breast cancer diagnosis in 1992 was an incredible triumph and even Olivia herself didn't look upon the disease as something negative, describing it as: "I look at my cancer journey as a gift: it made me slow down and realise the important things in life."

WATCH: Olivia Newton-John's best moments

Olivia set about learning and researching all she could about this disease to ensure anyone coming behind her with a similar diagnosis would benefit from the work she did. During the course of the past 30 years, she set up the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund and her hospital the Olivia Newton-John Wellness, Cancer and Research Centre.

chloe john and olivia© Photo: Getty Images

Olivia laughing alongside her husband John and her beautiful daughter Chloe

While her family and her famous friends face their heartache over life with Olivia no longer in it, the singer and actress' legacy lives on. Both for those facing breast cancer themselves, who have access to the expertise and hospitals she left behind, and in the heartfelt tributes of the people that knew her best…

Her niece Tottie Goldsmith

Tottie and Olivia

Full of love and admiration, Tottie penned a heartfelt letter to her late aunt Olivia and made her a very special promise. It captures their incredible bond, what an amazing woman Olivia was and how she touched the lives of those around her.

Shared with HELLO! exclusively, she wrote: "Olivia 'Liv', was my Aunt, my confidante and my guiding light.

"Liv is, and was, magic. She was a tornado of joy and action, a visionary, and a healer. Every day, in every way, she moved us forward as people and was a passionate advocate for everyone who needed her. Liv never imagined that life would turn out the way it did for her, and she treated that gift with the grace and gratitude it deserved.

tottie and olivia together© Photo: Instagram

Tottie and Olivia shared an incredible bond

"Olivia was not in her ego, and she did not have to win. She maintained relationships with everyone she came into close contact with and gave more than she got, always - which is quite a feat when the world has given you so much.

"When I was a little girl, Liv carried the weight of our mother's absence. She would visit our house, hold us tight, and remind us that we were loved and cherished. It wasn't her weight to carry, but she did it nonetheless. She always had space for us in her life - regardless of where she was or how big her own burdens were, we never doubted her love for us."

Read more from Tottie Goldsmith's moving letter here.

Sir Cliff Richard

cliff and olivia

Soulmate friends for life, Sir Cliff and Olivia remained incredibly close until her death. They shared many special memories of the years.

Shared with HELLO! from Sir Cliff: "Olivia was an incredibly special person. My heart breaks thinking I can’t pick up the phone to talk to Livvy anymore. We were friends for life, a kind of soulmate friendship that stood the test of time. There had always been a chemistry with us from the first time we met, on and off screen.

cliff and olivia together© Photo: Getty Images

Sir Cliff and Olivia always had good fun together

"We always had fantastic fun together, at parties or just chatting. Singing together was always special. She was pitch-perfect every time, and our voices blended well. It still makes me smile, thinking of the time when Livvy asked if I would escort her to the re-release of Grease 20 years after the first release in 1998.

"It was in London, and I was delighted to have Livvy on my arm…. But I had a guilty secret: I had not got round to seeing her hit movie the first time. Accidentally after the movie I let it slip saying it was 'way beyond expectations' but as many of our nights did, it ended in laughter."

Read more from Sir Cliff Richard here.

Dolly Parton

dolly main piece © Photo: Getty Images

Special friends Dolly and Olivia had a great love for one another and each other's musical talent. Dolly lovingly remembers Olivia and how she was inspired by her.

Shared with HELLO! from Dolly Parton: "I've always been inspired by her grit, tenderness, willingness, and determination. She fought until the very end.

"My last memory of Olivia was when I sang with her on my song "Jolene" which she recorded for an album not so very long ago. I cannot wait to hear that album and Olivia may you rest in peace. You left a spot that one else will ever fill."

Read more from Dolly Parton here.

Jane Seymour

jane seymour and olivia© Photo: Getty Images

Close friends for decades, Jane and Olivia were inseparable, and Jane will always treasure their friendship.

Jane told HELLO!: "When it happened I found a huge hole in my heart and I realise I couldn't pick up the phone and speak to her anymore. I couldn't go over to her beautiful home and sit there and watch the dogs and the hummingbirds and talk about life.

olivia and jane throwback© Photo: Getty Images

Their friendship spanned decades

"It really hit home in a very big way. It's a big loss and I didn't realise, even though I didn't see her as often as I would have liked to, quite what a profound loss it would be."

She added: "I know personally that even at the end she went out of her way to help people that she knew who were going through cancer. Even though she was incredibly frail herself. She would actually spend a lot of time, effort and thought and actually pick up the phone and speak to people we both knew who were going through the battle. That was just magic to me."

Read more from Jane Seymour here.

Dionne Warwick

dionne and olivia© Photo: Getty Images

Friends for a long time, Dionne and Olivia shared a great love of music and a deep connection over the years. Speaking from the heart, Dionne revealed it has been like losing part of her family.

Dionne told HELLO!: "It really, it hit me pretty hard of course. It is very difficult to lose people that you care about and know that care about you. It's still something I am dealing with. It's like losing part of the family. It's never easy. It won't be easy. I'm certain that I will be able to deal with it over a period of time, it's still very fresh, still very new. It's hard to believe."

Speaking about her last chat with Olivia, she said: "It had to do with music. How she felt I was an inspiration to her musically and how I inspired her with the way she presented her music the way she sang, the songs she chose to sing. Those are the things I will always remember about her. She was very, very special to me as is her family and I'm going to miss her an awful lot. It's a case of knowing she's a lot better off right now. She's sitting in the lap of the heaven of God."

Read more from Dionne Warwick here.

Dannii Minogue

olivia china trek© Photo: Getty Images

Dannii undertook a special task for Olivia, raising money to help her build the hospital that would become part of her legacy – the Olivia Newton-John Cancer, Wellness and Research hospital. At an exclusive HELLO! shoot, Dannii fondly remembered the trek across China she did with Olivia.

She said: "Olivia asked me to help her raise some money to build a hospital. It's the Olivia Newton-John Cancer, Wellness and Research hospital in Melbourne, that is my hometown, we did a trek across China and got people to sponsor us.

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"There were a lot of people on the walk that did that with us from Joan Rivers to Cliff Richard, Australian stars, we raised the money to build this hospital. As she spent time in the hospital, she really worked with not only the medical staff but in the feeling of what it felt like to be in a hospital bed - particularly stuck there for quite some time.

"It's still an incredible hospital in Melbourne. There are so many people being treated there and helped. That's a proud moment. Her niece was saying, after Olivia passed, apart from her daughter it is the thing she is most proud of doing."

Read more from Dannii Minogue.

Gayle King

gayle and olivia in pants© Photo: Instagram

Interviewing Olivia in 2019 remains one of the highlights of CBS news anchor Gayle King's broadcast career. They enjoyed each other’s company so much, the pair made dinner plans with Oprah Winfrey that same night. Afterwards they stayed in touch and Gayle shares Olivia's incredible gesture to her.

She told HELLO!: "Olivia proceeded to use her life to help others. That was Olivia Newton-John, even when she was fighting the fight, she wanted to help others too. So I consider it one of the great highlights of my broadcast career. I got to talk to her before she left us."

olivia oprah and gayle© Photo: Instagram

Olivia, Oprah, Gayle and friends after their fabulous dinner plans

"What was so special, we exchanged numbers that night," she added. "And she would just send me flowers, saying, 'I was in the garden, I saw this beautiful rose and I thought of you.' Just randomly! She would send pictures of beautiful flowers. I would say, 'You have no idea this is coming at the best time for me.' This is so beautiful. I mean, that's just how sweet and lovely she was. I couldn't get over it when she was so kind. I was told that was unusual for her to do."

Read more from Gayle King here.

Didi Conn

grease© Photo: Getty Images

Didi and Olivia found friendship and fame together on the set of the 1978 film Grease. They never lost touch and their friendship blossomed over time.

Shared with HELLO!, Didi said: "Olivia and I were in close touch and she was so grateful for every day. Her loving husband John kept her out of pain with different tinctures of marijuana that he grew especially for her. She was so loving, spiritual, and very brave."

Kelly Lang

olivia and kelly© Photo: Instagram

Sir Barry Gibb was delighted to introduce his friends Kelly Lang and Olivia who hit it off immediately. Kelly and Olivia bonded over being mothers, writers, singers, and of course their shared connection to breast cancer that Olivia called thrivers.

Speaking to HELLO!, Kelly said: "The last time I saw Olivia, she was at our house. Her and Barry Gibb, and his wife Linda, Olivia's husband Amazon John. I wanted to give them all parting gifts for having been at my house.

barry and olivia

Their mutual friend Sir Barry Gibb introduced them to each other

"I had towels monogramed with Sir Barry Gibb and then I did Amazon John and this was before Olivia was damed. She was really thrilled, as if it was being proceeded her being damed. She kept it in her bathroom."

Read more from Kelly Lang here.

Beth Nielson Chapman

amy olivia beth© Photo: Facebook

Olivia, Beth and Amy worked together musically but away from the recording studio they were also great friends. Beth hails Olivia as a great teacher and supporter to her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000.

She told HELLO!: "Olivia's relationship with healing was really something to behold. She had this most beautiful marriage to John, who was a masterful healer and had been an expert in herbs and finding traditional medicine and bringing it into now. That was a huge part of her staying well as long as she did.

"I had learnt so much from Olivia on how to go through the cancer journey. I had lost my husband to cancer in 1994 and here it was the year 2000 and I was facing breast cancer and I was terrified. Olivia said, 'You are terrified, that’s normal, acknowledge the fear that's going to be there, in spite of fear you need to start talking to yourself in a different way…'"

Read more from Beth Nielson Chapman and Amy Sky here.

Amy Sky

beth amy and olivia© Photo: Facebook

What began as a creative musical partnership was the start of a beautiful friendship between Olivia and Amy. They instantly connected, with Amy fondly remembering their first ever meeting.

She told HELLO!: "It was honestly like love at first sight. I drove up to her house and we came inside and we just hit it off. We wrote the songs immediately; she asked me to stay over that first night so we could keep working the next day. We just had fun. Our birthdays are like two days apart. We're bothí Libras. We hit it off creatively and friends…

"She was a very significant person in my life. I think of her life-affirming laugh, also her commitment to gratitude. One of the albums we wrote together was Grace and Gratitude. She felt it was her theme song.

"She was one hundred percent the person that lived in grace, she had a dramatic life, she lived a big life, but she always made a commitment to living in her best self and to being grateful. She used to say, 'I know how lucky I am…'"

john travolta and olivia© Photo: Getty Images

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