March 28, 2023

Before she died, singer and actress Olivia Newton-John had a parting message for her family: “Express love to the people you love,” her husband John Easterling recalled in an interview Friday. The late actor’s family opened up about their fond memories and final moments with the icon, who was also a mother and a wife.

“I love my mom more than anything, and she’s my mama,” her daughter Chloe Lattanzi told Hoda Kotb of the “The Today Show.” 

“She’s not Olivia Newton-John to me, but I’m so glad that she was Olivia Newton-John for so many people.”

The “Grease” star and singing talent had been battling breast cancer for decades before she died last August at the age of 73. According to Lattanzi, her mother fought against the disease with one of the most powerful tools in her toolbox: humor.

“Right before she lost her ability to speak, she was making jokes,” Lattanzi told Kotb, while describing her mother’s attitude towards the end of her fight. “The last words she could say to me was, ‘my sunshine.'” 

Newton-John’s 30-year battle against the disease served as an inspiration, not only to cancer patients and fans around the world, but also to her own daughter and husband, Easterling said.

“It’s a long journey, but she had the willpower — even in her most difficult times, to really bring in the light and to bring in the love,” Easterling told “The Today Show.” “And she was who she was all the way through.”

The interview also came on the same day that Newton-John’s duet with her dear friend Dolly Parton was released.   

Easterling said his wife’s duet with Parton, which she recorded while she was sick, is just another example of her ability to share her gift with the world — even after her passing.

“It’s a gorgeous duet and Dolly’s a wonderful person, was a good friend of Olivia,” Easterling said. “She, as I do, feel like everyone has a very unique and special gift. For her, it was her voice…she understood it was a gift and she gave that very generously.”

Newton-John’s fans have helped carry on her message of love and light, Lattanzi said.

“It actually has been a life raft,” Lattanzi said of the outpouring of support from her mother’s fans. “It has felt like a big hug from the universe, and I’m very grateful for all of the people who reached out to us and extended their heart and their connection.”

Easterling said a word of encouragement from someone he crossed paths with has helped him figure out “a way forward” after Newton-John’s passing.

“A guy I was flying with said, ‘You know John, when you’re lucky enough to have found your true soulmate, and you share a heart, when one passes, the other has the obligation to live life for both,'” Easterling said. “And that was very empowering and very powerful for me.”

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