Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but it feels as though those I most admired while growing up are leaving us quickly these days. We have lost two great talents. David McCullough and Olivia Newton-John.
Let’s start with David McCullough. Two time Pulitzer Prize winner. “Truman” and “John Adams.”
David McCullough wrote books. I mean… BOOKS. Books you got lost in. History. Besides “Truman” and “John Adams,” “The Johnstown Flood,” “Mornings on Horseback” about Theodore Roosevelt and “The Wright Brothers.” There were many more.
I remember “John Adams” becoming a mini series on HBO. Paul Giamatti was so good. So was Laura Linney.
David McCullough believed that “history is the story of people.” He also said this: “To me history ought to be a source of pleasure. It isn’t just part of our civic responsibility. To me it’s an enlargement of the experience of being alive, just the way literature or art is.”
When he wasn’t taking years to write big books, David McCullough was using his voice. A great voice too. He narrated lots of documentaries. Among them, Ken Burns’ “The Civil War.” He also hosted “American Experience.”
Speaking of great voices, Olivia Newton-John. Where to start? Let’s start with this… she bravely battled breast cancer for over thirty years. She shared her journey all along the way.
I was in high school when Olivia Newton-John came on the scene. CNN calls hers a “breathy voice.”
All those great songs. “Let Me Be There.” “I Honestly Love You.” “Have You Never Been Mellow?” “Please Mr. Please.”
Olivia Newton-John was just getting going.
“Grease.” It was the top grossing movie of 1978. Olivia Newton-John became a bona fide star.
She broke her squeaky clean image with “Physical.” Lyrics so suggestive, it was banned by several radio stations. It became her biggest hit.
I remember going to Olivia Newton John’s Koala Blue store on a trip to Los Angeles. Melrose Avenue? I think so. I bought something. Can’t remember what. That store was packed.
Olivia Newton John was sick a long time. She kept performing though. She told CNN this in 2017: “I love to sing, it’s all I know how to do. That’s all I’ve ever done since I was 15, so it’s my life. I feel very grateful that I can still do it and people still come to see me.”
Olivia Newton-John’s “Grease” co-star John Travolta said this on Instagram: “My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible. I love you much.”
Travolta ends it this way: “We will see you down the road and we will be together again. Yours from the moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John.”
Don’t you love that? Two greats we lost. An author. A singer. It’s just happening too often these days.