Today's Richard Wilkins breaks down live on-air: 'Completely numb'

Today entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins has broken down live on-air as the breakfast program paid tribute to Olivia Newton-John following the news of her death.

The veteran reporter wiped away tears as host Karl Stefanovic came to comfort him after Today played a clip of Richard interviewing Olivia and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi.

After the camera cut to Richard, he began to cry as Karl offered his support and said, "Oh buddy, your relationship with her was so beautiful".

"I didn't want to do this," Richard said as he choked back tears.

"There aren't too many people you can do a Zoom with and feel it."

Richard Wilkins breaks down on Today.
Richard Wilkins broke down after watching his interview with Olivia Newton-John. Source: Channel 9

Karl agreed Olivia, who had a 30-year-long battle with cancer, was "extraordinary".

Host Allison Langdon added Richard was holding it together and just showing up was a testament to his strength.

"I'm still numb," he responded.

Richard also revealed the circle of people in the entertainment industry who had been sharing their shock over the news this morning.


“A lot of people are texting each other this morning,” the 68-year-old said.

“Delta [Goodrem] said, ‘My heart’s broken’ … That’s the way it is. Nobody was prepared for this. Everybody knew it was coming and Olivia’s health had been declining in recent times, but it’s still such a great shock.”

The entertainment reporter said he discovered the news through a phone call early this morning.

"I was just sort of numb. I just lay there. You know, all the dates and facts and figures and things just disappear and I just felt completely numb, I didn’t really know what to think,” he said.

Richard later told Nova's Fitzy and Wippa he was "shaken".

"I was trying to collect my thoughts before and it's all the dates and details and things just sort of float out to insignificance," he said.

Olivia Newton-John's husband John Easterling broke the news of her death. Source: Instagram
Olivia Newton-John's husband John Easterling broke the news of her death. Source: Instagram

"The world has lost a beautiful person.

"She used to sign all her notes and emails and things like that with love and light. She was all about love and light and that was her sign-off, and that's just what she radiated. She just did it effortlessly," she said.

The news of Olivia's death was confirmed on social media on Tuesday, with her husband John Easterling saying she passed away peacefully at her home in California.

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