“In this industry, we have the rare luxury of getting to do what we love for a living. And sometimes, getting to do it with people that we’ve come to love,” Travolta, 69, said during the Sunday, March 12, event while introducing the show’s “In Memoriam” segment. “And since tonight is a celebration of the work and the accomplishments of our community in this past year, it is only fitting then that we celebrate those we’ve lost who dedicated their lives to their craft both in front of and behind the camera. Through the immeasurable contributions each of them left an individual and indubitable mark that shared and informed us.”
The Pulp Fiction star then got choked up while giving a special shout-out to his dear friend Newton-John, referencing her hit song “Hopelessly Devoted to You” from Grease.
“They’ve touched our hearts, they’ve made us smile and became dear friends who we will always remain hopelessly devoted to,” he said while struggling to hold back tears.
The crowd then echoed Travolta’s sentiments with an audible “Aw” sound before the Saturday Night Fever actor introduced the “incomparable” Lenny Kravitz, who performed while Hollywood mourned those they have lost in the past year. Newton-John was the first face to grace the screen.
The “Let’s Get Physical” singer passed away at the age of 73 in August 2022 after a long battle with breast cancer. She was first diagnosed in 1992, but after undergoing a partial mastectomy and reconstruction surgery, she learned her cancer had returned in 2013 and 2018.
“We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time. Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” a statement from the Australia native’s husband, John Easterling, read while confirming her death in August 2022. “Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund.”
Following the loss of his longtime friend, Travolta — who portrayed Danny Zuko to Newton-John’s Sandy Olsson in the 1978 film — took to social media to mourn.
“My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible. I love you so much,” Travolta wrote via Instagram in August 2022 alongside a photo of the Xanadu star. “We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”
After portraying America’s favorite onscreen couple, Travolta and Newton-John remained close over the years, even costarring in the 1983 film Two of a Kind.
In August 2019, the Face Off actor opened up about his special bond with the Golden Globe winner. “We were together not that long ago, about three months ago, and we text each other all the time,” he exclusively told Us Weekly. “It’s wonderful … If I go to see her in her show, we go backstage and hang out, and I watch the show and all that. If I go to see her personally, we usually have dinner and catch up. And recently we’ve been talking about trying to do something together.”
Newton-John, for her part, gushed about her relationship with Travolta during an interview with Hollywood Life in February 2021.
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“Well, we’ve always been friends,” she said of her bond with the New Jersey native. “[John and I’ve] been through a huge, incredible experience together and we care about each other and we’ll always be friends.”