This story was one of Herald Entertainment’s most read in 2022
Late entertainment icon Olivia Newton-John once spoke of her desire to keep her marriage to John Easterling private, but before the couple’s fairytale romance came to be, the actress’ tumultuous love life was often plastered across the headlines.
Newton-John, who died on Tuesday at 73 after a long battle with cancer, her husband of 14 years and daughter Chloe Lattanzi by her side, had once gushed about how lucky she was to find the "the love of her life" at 59.
It came after the mysterious disappearance of her ex-partner of nine years, and divorce from her first husband, Matt Lattanzi, Chloe's father, which ended with him dating and then marrying the couple's former babysitter Cindy Jessup — a detail many believed to have shattered Newton-John.
But the actress insisted it never bothered her - and today New Zealand-born Jessup paid loving tribute to Newton-John in an interview with the Daily Mail.
'The world has lost a true angel. Olivia cared so deeply about people and the planet. She was such a force for goodness, always helping others," Jessup told the outlet.
Inside Olivia Newton-John's first marriage
The chemistry was instant when Newton-John and Lattanzi first met on the set of 1980 musical film Xanadu, where Lattanzi, then 20, was hired as a dancer and Newton-John, then 31, was starring as Greek muse Kira.
Four years later they wed, welcoming their daughter, Chloe Rose, in January 1986.
Tragedy struck in 1992 when the couple faced Newton-John's first cancer battle together, with the star's niece Tottie Goldsmith revealing he was "so supportive" of her.
However, just three years later, in 1995, the couple announced their divorce.
They managed to stay friends, despite Lattanzi, who was 40 at the time, moving on with the family's babysitter Cindy Jessup, then 23, two years after they split.
The couple had hired Jessup in 1993 to help look after Chloe while Lattanzi was working on Aussie soap Paradise Beach, and she quickly became part of the family.
A friend told reporters at the time of Jessup and Lattanzi's 1997 wedding that Newton-John was "delighted" they had struck up a romance.
"It looks bad, because Cindy would often babysit his daughter and she was a friend of his and Olivia's – but in those days there was no romance."
Olivia blamed her cancer diagnosis for split
Newton-John later attributed the marriage breakdown partly to her cancer diagnosis.
While she admitted going through a divorce was "painful", true to form, she held no ill will against Lattanzi for his marriage to Jessup.
"I think our marriage would have eventually come to an end, but it happened sooner because of the cancer, which was a good thing" she told the Daily Mail.
"It was very painful, but we were never at odds with each other.
"What happened between us was between us, and we wouldn't allow it to affect (Chloe)."
She added: "Divorce is never all right. Everybody wants the happy ending and the white picket fence, particularly me."
It seems that wish finally came true when Newton-John met natural-health businessman John Easterling, who she described as "the love of her life".
"I have a wonderful, beautiful husband who is just so loving and fantastic," she said after their low-key wedding in 2008.
"I always tell my friends you're never too old to find love. I found the love of my life at 59 going on 60! I'm grateful."
Matt Lattanzi went on to marry again
As for Lattanzi, it was not to last with Jessup, with the couple splitting after 10 years of marriage in 2007.
He married once more, and now runs a medicinal cannabis farm with third wife Michelle Lattanzi, who is currently in remission from colon cancer first diagnosed in 2014.
It seems the exes' values aligned later in life, given Newton-John was passionate about ensuring medicinal marijuana was more widely available for cancer patients to manage pain.
Paying tribute to her husband's ex-wife on Facebook on Tuesday, Michelle Lattanzi said the world had lost an icon.
"Today we lost one of the world's greats, Olivia Newton-John," she posted on behalf of the couple.
"Matt and I are so overwhelmed with the love and gratitude shared with us by friends, family and a deeply loving community of fans who will all miss Olivia's presence in this world.
"I have heard truly lovely stories and memories from people near and far, and honour in each of you where those feelings and memories come from.
"Nothing will replace the icon we lost, yet her legacy is alive and well in our hearts and memories, as well as her contributions to our global culture, her beloved daughter Chloe Lattanzi, and her cancer research and wellness centre in Melbourne.
"Please honour your sadness, and then celebrate the joy that Olivia's heart and lifetime achievements endowed in our world.
"Sending all kinds of love."