EXCLUSIVE: The Ties that Bind – The Newton-John Sisters

By Michele Manelis

EXCLUSIVE: The Ties that Bind – The Newton-John Sisters
One sister’s rise to international stardom and the other’s descent into despair.

Take a journey into the extraordinary lives of sisters whose destinies diverged dramatically. In this series, Michele Manelis delves into the contrasting paths of Olivia and Rona Newton-John – one ascending to the pinnacle of international fame, while the other grapples with personal demons and despair.

Manelis unravels the tale of triumph and tragedy that unfolds between the sisters, showcasing their resilience, sacrifices, and the bonds that tie them together amid life’s twists and turns.


In Part I of our series, we are introduced to Rona’s volatile relationship with Grease star Jeff Conaway, which causes Rona to navigate the harrowing complexities of love, addiction and survival. The early lives of Rona and Olivia Newton-John are explored, as Manelis untangles the web of familial bonds and personal struggles that shaped Rona’s tumultuous path.

Rona and Olivia pictured with their mother Irene and Rona’s son Emerson.


It’s the Swinging 60s, and Rona heads for London, where she finds a new life, a new marriage, and another baby on the way. Meanwhile Olivia, who also finds love, is enjoying the ride of her life in an unstoppable career which sees her winning awards and setting a new Guinness World Record.

Rona, photographed by Helmut Newton.


Moving further into the 1970s was an exciting time for the Newton-John sisters where life changes dramatically for both of them.  Rona relocates to Los Angeles and falls madly in love (again), and Olivia would star in her career-defining role as Sandy, in Grease.

Rona and Olivia with Jeff Conaway.


The final chapter sees Rona’s life in Hollywood, a rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows, a mix of A-list parties, followed by more violence and despair. Meanwhile, Olivia’s blockbuster, Grease, solidifies her A-list status in Hollywood, and she comes to Rona’s aid one last time. Tragically, Emerson will lose the two women closest to him.

Irene, Olivia and Rona Newton-John arrive for a White House state dinner.


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