I figured she was another Southern California aspiring singer who booked a good gig at Disneyland. When she thanked the crowd, I could tell her accent that she was not from Southern California. That other thing that stood out, besides her terrific pop voice and personality, was the fact that she had three names.
Later, our little high school group was walking through Disneyland and I spotted the singer walking near us. I dashed over and had to tell how much I loved her set on that stage. Her face lit up, she shook my hand and her heartfelt, enthusiastic gratitude is one of my best memories of that night.
As the years went on, and she became tops on the pop charts, I'd always wonder if Olivia Newton-John was the same girl I'd heard sing at Disneyland when I was in high school in 1970.
Her eyes got the size of dinner plates and she beamed, "Were you there?"
What a lovely person she is. Onstage, onscreen, and off. She had that same enthusiastic gratitude at VH1, when she was a recording and film star, that she had that night as an unknown singer when I went out of my way to compliment her at Disneyland.
There are people in this life who radiate being in a state of grace. When they leave the room, you find yourself smiling and wishing they could've stayed longer because of the light they put in your heart. Olivia Newton-John is such a person. I just thought I'd share that with you.
Gayle King visited the singer/actress at her California ranch where she lives with her husband. King conducted a very warm and smart interview that aired on CBS SUNDAY MORNING.
To see Olivia Newton-John dance with screen legend Gene Kelly in the 1980 musical, XANADU, watch this clip:
Like Rita Hayworth in 1944's COVER GIRL, Olivia Newton-John danced with Gene Kelly as he played a character named Danny McGuire.