Newton-John once told me after her cancer diagnosis, she would mentally picture her dog (Jackson) running through her system eating the cancer cells like PacMan. I have no doubt that is what kept her going for 30 years after her diagnosis. I got a call on Friday saying it could be any time now, so I suppose she just got tired of fighting. She was a genuinely warm person and shared her time and her wealth with so many. The first time I met her was in Cincinnati when she was shooting the NBC made-for-TV-movie “A Mom for Christmas”. I begged my boss in Detroit to let me go down and interview her. I was so incredibly nervous, but deliberately decided not to get a photo with her as I just wanted that memory for myself.
Little did I know we were fated to meet again and again in L.A. I saw her the same day she had her mammogram, but before she heard the results. She asked me what was my favorite song of hers! I said, “You’re gonna laugh”, and she said, “No, I really want to know.” I told her, “Have You Never Been Mellow.” She said she always thought that song might be dated. But I told her it’s one of the biggies in my life’s soundtrack. I couldn’t help but notice that when she returned to the concert stage a few years later, she always opened her concerts with “Have You Never Been Mellow.” I don’t dare to presume it was because of me, but deep down, I like to think it was. I was this close to nailing down a date for her to co-host GMA Sunday when, boom, I got fired. She left a voicemail, “Well, that was all a huge waste of time wasn’t it! And congratulations!” She knew I hated that job.
I haven’t seen her in several years and I don’t mourn her. I stopped mourning people years ago when I came to the realization that she and my mother and Merv and Randy and Jagger just caught an earlier train home. I’m saving a few more Newton-John stories for my autobiography, if I ever get around to writing it, titled “Do You Know Who I Used To Be?” Look for it in paperback and audiobook. Thank you so much Newton-John for making this trip all the more bearable. I honestly love you too!