The founder of the Spanx brand, Sarah Blakely, mourns her “idol” Olivia Newton-John.
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After the news broke on Monday, August 8 that the beloved actress and singer had died, 51-year-old Blakely wrote her a sweet tribute on Instagram, saying that she had the famous leather pants of the late star from Grease in her office.
Sharing a montage of photos and videos with Newton-John, Blakely said: “Olivia was my childhood idol. I loved her so much, I believe I literally embodied her in my life.”
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in the film “Grease”. Paramount/Rso/Kobal/Shutterstock
The businesswoman shared that she visited the Newton-John house as a child. “I rang her doorbell when I was 8 and a nice person told me she wasn’t home because she was touring Australia,” Blakely wrote. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous as when I got out of the rental car and walked up to her gate. I was in California with my family and accidentally found out where she lives. After 3 days of parents begging, they took me to her house.”
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Blakely Newton-John’s adoration continued when she shared, “Fast forward 19 years later… I’m in a lip sync contest at Clearwater High when Olivia sings “Midsummer Night,” she continued.
Further, the Florida native said that when she married Jesse Itsler in 2008, the Xanadu star surprised the guests with a performance. “Fast forward in 19 years… Olivia agrees to sing at my wedding,” Blakely wrote. “She surprised everyone, including my husband, and sang ‘Hopeless Devoted’. Jesse was so shocked that he kept saying, “Honey, our wedding singer looks just like Olivia Newton-John,” and I said, “THIS is OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN!”
Speaking about another memory, Blakely shared: “Fast forward another 10 years, Olivia comes to @Spanx, and I’m interviewing her for our series of performances.” Blakely said that was when they became friends, joking, “She really didn’t have a choice.”
Then Blakely told: “Fast forward… she auctioned off her famous Grease pants, and I won them! Well… I didn’t win, I paid the most, but I had to, because dreams come true.” She shared that the famous image “now hangs on the wall in Spanx.”
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The pants, along with other things from Grease, were auctioned off in 2019. Blakely received a whopping $162,000 for this image. The auction was held in favor of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Health and Research Center in Melbourne, Australia.
Before they were handed over to Blakely, Newton-John got back to business during an interview with Gayle King on CBS Sunday Morning the same year.
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“I was a pretty skinny girl and they fit me perfectly, except the zipper was broken, so they sewed me into them,” she told King at the time.
Newton-John died at the age of 73 after a long battle with stage IV breast cancer.
The “Deuce” actress died at her home in California on Monday, according to her husband John Easterling, who reported it via Facebook. “We ask everyone to respect the privacy of the family at this very difficult time,” the announcement reads. “Olivia has been a symbol of triumph and hope for over 30 years, sharing her journey with breast cancer.”
After Newton-John was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, Newton-John underwent a partial mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Although she went into remission, the disease returned in 2013 and 2017.