The actor established the Olivia Newton-John Foundation for cancer research in 2012 and donated a huge chunk of her money to the charity.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 11, 2022. It has since been updated.
Olivia Newton-John pledged a large part of her fortune to support cancer research through her charity, three years before her death. Even in her final moments, her wish was to support the Olivia Newton-John Foundation. Her husband, John Easterling, revealed the actor's final wish was to ask people to make donations to her charity in her memory as opposed to gifting flowers. "Olivia has been a symbol of triumph and hope for over 30 years, sharing her journey with breast cancer. Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continue with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer," her husband wrote. "In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund."
Olivia Newton-John passed away on Monday at the age of 73, at her ranch in Southern California and surrounded by family and friends. The "Grease" star revealed she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2018 and decided to commit a lot of her fortune to cancer research. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, then again in 2013, before her third and final diagnosis. Newton-John established her charity in 2012 after selling off most of her real estate portfolio. She sold properties and invested in the Olivia Newton-John Foundation for cancer research, reported the New York Post. The foundation funds research into plant-based medicine and holistic treatments for cancer. "Olivia loved helping people. She spent the last two decades of her life giving back," a close source told the publication. "She wanted to leave behind something that would last, and something that her daughter, too, could benefit from."
In 2019, after failing to sell her California ranch, she transferred ownership of the Santa Barbara property to her husband, John Easterling. The same year she sold her 189-acre farm located in Dalwood, New South Wales, Australia, for $6.6 million. She had purchased the property in the 1980s before rebuilding the home in the early 2000s. Newton-John also invested heavily in Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital.
“The idea is to fund research into kinder ways to treat cancer, to prevent cancer and to live well with cancer,” she said in a 2020 interview with Forbes. “So, all those things, I believe, we will eventually see a world beyond it where it’s just treated as any other illness that you can kind of control and live well with and, of course, hopefully, cure it. Living well is something that I do, and I’m hoping that I can help others do that.”
The singer and actor won four Grammy Awards and sold more than 100 million albums. Her breast cancer diagnosis forced her to postpone and cancel several tours. One of her biggest heartbreaks came in 2005 when her then-boyfriend, Patrick McDermott, disappeared at sea during a fishing trip off the coast of California. His body was never found and it remains a mystery what happened to him. His disappearance took a heavy toll on her. "It's very hard to live with that," she told Larry King in 2006, reported CNN. "It's probably the hardest thing I've ever experienced, and I've been through a lot of things."