Richard Wilkins' emotional tribute to Olivia Newton-John: 'Godsend'

Celebrities have paid tribute to the star during her state memorial.

Richard Wilkins took to the stage at Melbourne's Hamer Hall on Sunday night to pay tribute to legendary Aussie singer, actress, and close friend Olivia Newton-John.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to sing," he joked as he began to share a "few words on behalf of the entertainment industry".

Richard Wilkins speaks about Olivia Newton-John
Richard Wilkins was among the many stars who paid emotional tribute to Olivia Newton-John at her memorial in Melbourne. Photo: Nine

"There are not too many people who have ever set foot on this planet let alone forged a career in the entertainment industry about whom no one has a bad word to say," he said. "Olivia Newton-John was one such rarity."

Richard spoke of Olivia and her "girl next door demeanour" as well as her "beautiful pure pitch perfect voice that could thread the eye of a needle", jokingly adding that her Australian accent never faded, but got "a little bit stronger every day".


He continued, noting that Olivia never gloated about her "many successes", though she was "justifiably proud" of them.

Describing her presence at events such as G'Day USA as a "godsend", Richard shared that Olivia was always "eager to support and assist at every opportunity".

"When she spoke or sang, it was as nurturing as mother's milk. We were home," he added. "While she was a huge global star it took a certain character to embrace the role and maintain it, it took a capacity and a willingness to be a public figure and to do so with integrity, wholeheartedly and consistently."

Richard Wilkins at Olivia Newton John's memorial
Richard spoke of Olivia and her 'girl next door demeanour' as well as her 'beautiful pure pitch perfect voice that could thread the eye of a needle'. Photo: Getty

"Fame is a double-edged sword and Olivia embraced the accolades and accepted the unrelenting exposure as part of the job description," the host added. "At the end of the day, Olivia will not only be remembered for the wonderful music, the fabulous films and all those awards, the record sales, the chart positions and the box office receipts, but for the love and light she brought into the world and received in return."

"We thank you, Olivia, for your timeless body of work your magnificent friendship and the shining example you set.

"Your strength of character and for being the beacon of hope that you were for so many. You were an absolute trailblazer, you were the ultimate class act. You left your mark on the world and made it a better place for all of us," he said.

He finished his tribute, saying, "Congratulations, Liv, job well done, life well lived, we love you, we honestly do."

Stars pay tribute

Elton John
Elton John spoke of Olivia, saying, 'We should treasure her memory and never forget what she gave the world.' Photo: Nine

Many stars including Hugh Jackman, Elton John, Mariah Carey, Dolly Parton and more paid tribute to Olivia during the service, with the 'Rocketman' singer sharing that the Aussie star was someone he "always looked forward to seeing".

"She was such a wonderful force of nature but she was funny, she was kind, she was warm and she was talented and every time we got together we laughed and laughed and laughed," Elton said. "The ONJ centre in Melbourne is a testament to what she did for so many millions of people. She fought her disease with the most incredible courage and a bravery which stays with me forever," he continued.

"She was never down, she was always optimistic, she was fun, she was beautiful, she was kind. Those kind of people don't come along very often, so we should treasure her memory and never forget what she gave the world."

Mariah, meanwhile, called Olivia her "friend", sharing, "She really affected my life like as a little girl I loved her so much growing up, Grease was probably the first movie I ever saw, and then I got to meet her later when she came and we performed together. I looked up to her so much and I loved her songs."

Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman remembered Olivia, sharing a story of the first time they met. Photo: Nine
Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman
Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman also shared memories of Olivia, who helped introduce the pair. Photo: Nine

"The world lost one of its greatest talents when Olivia left us," Dolly said. "As a country you should be very proud and know that the whole world mourns with you. Now, I had the honour of singing with her several times. I consider her a great friend as well as a fellow entertainer. Olivia, to quote one of your songs, I honestly love you. And thank you for shining your light on us."

Hugh recalled the first time he met Olivia, explaining he was working with John Travolta when he admitted to the star that he loved Grease and had a poster of Newton-John in his childhood bedroom and would kiss it before bed each night.

"He had a little laugh and about a week later said, 'By the way, I've got a little gift for you. Have you got a second it's in my trailer,'" he said. "I went into his trailer, which is like the Four Seasons by the way, that trailer. I walked in and sitting there at the table was Olivia Newton-John."

Hugh said he "froze" and "started gushing", sharing his love for Olivia, joking that her eyes "glazed over".

"I can't remember all the things I said to Olivia, I told her about the poster, me kissing it every night, I could see her eyes glazed over and say to John, 'Get this butter ball out of here,'" he said with a laugh. "I think I left soon after but it was a big moment for me."

Nicole Kidman also shared how Olivia was "just a light in the world" and that growing up, she "wanted to be Olivia Newton-John". Her husband Keith Urban also shared how Olivia played a part in helping him meet Nicole.

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