Olivia Newton-John memorial service
Tottie Goldsmith paid tribute to her aunt, Dame Olivia Newton-John, at a memorial service for the late icon.
AUSTRALIAN celebrity Tottie Goldsmith paid tribute to her aunt, Dame Olivia Newton-John, at a Victorian state memorial service for the Hollywood superstar, vocal legend and humanitarian, who passed away from cancer, aged 73, in August last year.
Born in Britain and raised in Melbourne, Dame Olivia’s grandfather was Max Born, a Jewish physicist and her maternal great-grandfather was Victor Ehrenberg, a Jewish jurist.
Family members and supporters, including husband John Easterling and daughter Chloe Lattanzi, spoke poignantly about the mega-star, who will be remembered for her entertainment legacy, her link to the Olivia Newton-John Wellness and Research Centre (ONJWRC), and as a loving family member and friend.
Sunday’s memorial in Melbourne saw tributes from stars including Sir Elton John, Dannii Minogue, John Travolta, Pink, Barry Gibb, RuPaul and Delta Goodrem.
“I had pretty much a sisterly kind of relationship with her,” said Goldsmith, “but she also held a maternal role for me. We shared a passion for the wellness centre … Liv was our greatest fan. Liv, thank you, thank you for being an amazing unifying family member. Thank you for your love, your sunshine and your deep wisdom … for teaching us what humility, strength and dignity are all about.”
Goldsmith read a reflection from her brother Brett Goldsmith, a songwriter and photographer.
“She brought me my first instrument and took me on the road,” wrote Brett. “Later she trusted me enough to sing my songs. As a photographer, she commissioned me to do portraits of her when she could have had any photographer in the world.”
Goldsmith’s niece Fiona wrote of conversations about “poetry, health and healing, yoga, and positivity” whenever Dame Olivia caught up with family members.
A video traced the origins of the ONJWRC, to which Dame Olivia agreed to lend her name if it included a wellness centre “because when I was going through breast cancer in 1992 it was really important for me to have those complementary therapies that helped me”.
In the video, Jewish physician and scientist Professor Jonathan Cebon, formerly medical director of Austin Health Cancer Services, who approached Dame Olivia about the cancer centre, spoke in the early 2000s of the nascent ONJWRC as “educating and training a whole new generation of clinicians”.
Cebon told The AJN last year how he tapped family ties and friendships to reach Dame Olivia with the ONJWRC proposal.
“She valued the research, she valued the patient care and she recognised that patient wellbeing was important.”