Jane Seymour is tearfully paying tribute to her longtime friend, Olivia Newton-John. In an interview with ET’s Kevin Frazier, Seymour opens up about the pair’s enduring friendship, Newton-John’s final days, and her legacy.
Newton-John died Monday after a decades-long battle with breast cancer, which she was extremely forthcoming about to the public. Her story has inspired and encouraged others on the same health journey. She was 73.
“She broke all the rules of science. I mean, she just kept going and going and going,” Seymour says. “She was beyond a fighter. She always said she’s a thriver. That was her word, ‘Not a survivor, a thriver.’ And I think she taught me and everyone I know so much about living with and passing with cancer. We’re all gonna go one day, but [are you] gonna go, ‘Ugh I’m so terrified, I’m angry, I’m gonna isolate. I’m not gonna let anyone know, I’m gonna be all alone and go through it’ — or do you do what she did and just be brave and say, ‘Hey, I’m going through something a lot of people go through.’”
Seymour says that even while Newton-John was suffering “terrible pain,” she still managed to maintain meaningful relationships with her loved ones.
“Even in her final years when I would go and see her, all she wanted to know was what I was doing, you know, ‘Are you happy? What’s going on in your life? How are your kids? How’s this, how’s that?’” Seymour recalls. “She appreciated close friends and she just lived a full and sort of spiritual life, really.”
On their final get together, Seymour visited Newton-John in her home and says that the “Grease” star was “so loving and so present.”
“I was looking at her going, ‘I don’t think I’m ever going to see you again,’” Seymour admits, sensing that Newton-John also knew that the end was near. “She just sat out there and she said, ‘Look at those birds, look at the hummingbirds, look at the dogs, look at the horses. So beautiful.’ She was just kind of blissing out on the fact that she was alive in nature and that she wanted to see what was good in the world.”
Seymour and Newton-John met through Seymour’s father, Dr. John Benjamin Frankenberg, who was an OB-GYN doctor in England and treated Newton-John’s sister when she gave birth. Seymour says she was hired to look after the newborn, travelling with the family to America where they stayed with Newton-John. Eventually, it was motherhood and stardom that led the pair to bond deeply.
“I managed to have my first baby, Katie, and I’ve never forgotten — we were on the beach in Malibu and [Newton-John] wanted me to bring the baby and she looked at me, and she held Katie in her arms, and and she said, ‘How do you do this?’” Seymour recalls.
“I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She said, ‘How do you have a career and work as hard as you do and have a baby? How do you do that?’ And I said, ‘You could do it.’ And she said, ‘Can I?’ And I said, ‘Yeah,’” she continues.
Seymour says she told Newton-John that she always thought she would prefer to have a career over children, but she found a way to balance both. “You kind of take them with you, strap ’em on and take ’em to Hungary or wherever the next movie is. You take them with you and you manage to do both.”
Seymour is now a mother of four, while Newton-John went on to welcome a daughter, Chloe Rose, in 1986.
“That was the magic of our relationship,” Seymour says. “She was the only other celebrity I knew that was very down to earth and had a child. All the ups and downs and marriages and everything we shared, she was very open and I could confide in her things that I didn’t tell anyone else. She was a confidant for me and I for her.”
Reflecting on Newton-John’s lasting legacy, Seymour declares, “She showed you could be all of the above. You could be the full package. You can be a good wife, you can be a good mother, you can be an amazing superstar, and you can be an icon of philanthropy.”
“Oh my God, she is the biggest icon Australia has ever had other than the kangaroo,” she adds. “I mean, she’s it.”
MORE FROM ET: