“Grease” became a Hollywood classic – a film for the ages that would continue inspiring artists and audiences for generations. The pressure was on Olivia to follow up on her phenomenal success. It was always going to be difficult. Critics panned her next film, “Xanadu” (1980), which did not draw audiences to the theaters.
Although the movie did not fare well, the soundtrack was a hit, with Olivia’s song “Magic” topping the U.S. charts. Her stint in the film was memorable in other ways, however. Olivia met dancer Matt Lattanzi, who was on the sets of Xanadu – her future husband.
The Search For “Sandy”
Olivia seemed at the peak of her music career. Her albums and singles were consistent hits, and she raked in the awards with seemingly little effort. Around this time, a Los Angeles producer was looking for a female lead to star opposite John Travolta.
The role was for a film adaptation of the musical “Grease.” Olivia got the call to star in the movie. The first step was a screen test featuring the now-iconic drive-in scene. Olivia wowed the producers, and the rest is history.
The Phenomenon That Was Grease Lightning
“Grease” hit theaters in 1978, winning outstanding acclaim from fans and critics alike. Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta’s performances elevated the stars to on-screen couple goals in the ’70s. The film eventually broke many records.
It became one of the biggest-selling musicals in history. The film’s soundtrack album topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Olivia also released a new album, “Totally Hot” (1978), in which she explored a new musical direction, from ballads to upbeat rock. The album was a success, and Olivia toured with it at home and abroad.
Pushing Boundaries With “Physical”
In 1981, Olivia explored a different musical direction with her new album, “Physical.” The singer was nervous about how fans would receive the album, but her concerns were unfounded. The title track was a resounding success. Fans loved the unconventional aerobic aesthetic of the new title track and Olivia’s look in the video.
She was single-handedly responsible for making cropped hair and headbands a fashion statement in the early '80s. The album also featured a full-length video – pathbreaking for a time when only individual songs had videos. She then toured across America with the album to sold-out audiences.
Olivia and Pat’s Business Venture
Olivia is best known for playing Sandy in “Grease,” as well as her many Grammy awards. But the singer-turned-actor was also the co-founder of a fashion label and boutique chain in the ‘80s. The idea for the business came to Olivia while touring for her album, “Physical.” The true-blue Aussie in her craved the meat pies, candies, and other treats from down under. She would give anything to find a one-stop shop where she could find them in America.
Not long after, Olivia mentioned the idea to Pat Farrar who was immediately on board. They tweaked the idea and together founded “Koala Blue” – a boutique featuring clothing from Australia.