The “In Memoriam” segment is a special, annual part of every Academy Awards ceremony, taking a break from the celebration of cinema to remember the people in the film industry who died in the past year.
It can be an emotional moment, seeing names on the screen and remembering people who may have been your close friends and colleagues.
This year, the segment was introduced by John Travolta — and he couldn’t hold back tears while remembering one beloved co-star who left us recently.
Taking the stage last night, the Saturday Night Fever icon introduced the segment but was visibly emotional.
“In this industry, we have the rare luxury of getting to do what we love for a living and sometimes getting to do it with people we’ve come to love,” Travolta said. “And since tonight is a celebration of the work and accomplishments of our community in this past year, it’s only fitting that then we celebrate those we’ve lost — who dedicated their lives to their craft, both behind the camera and in front.”
As he spoke, Travolta couldn’t hold back tears — and it soon became clear what was making him so emotional:
“Through their immeasurable contributions, each of them left an individual and a mark that shared and informed us, they’ve touched our hearts, they made us smile and became dear friends who we will always remain hopelessly devoted.”
With that line, the audience suddenly realized he was choking up over his friend and Grease co-star, the late Olivia Newton-John, who sang “Hopelessly Devoted to You” in the film.
Newton-John, also a platinum-selling recording artist and one of the biggest stars of the ’70s and ’80s, died in August at the age of 73, following a long battle with breast cancer.
The 1978 smash-hit musical film Grease was a career-defining film for both Travolta and Newton-John, and the two remained friends for decades after.
After her death, Travolta wrote a sweet tribute: “My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever!”
The In Memoriam segment began, accompanied by Lenny Kravitz, and Newton-John was the first name to appear.
Newton-John wasn’t the only of Travolta’s famous co-stars to appear in the segment: Kirstie Alley, who appeared alongside the actor in the Look Who’s Talking movies, died in December at 71. Travolta also paid tribute to Alley after her passing: “I love you, Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”
It also featured famous, recently departed stars like Angela Lansbury, James Caan, Ray Liotta, Burt Bacharach, and Raquel Welch.
However, the segment has also generated controversy by omitting some very accomplished actors who died in the past year, including Anne Heche, Paul Sorvino, Tom Sizemore, and Topol.
Also absent was Charlbi Dean, who died this year at 32. Dean was a lesser-known actress but starred in one of this year’s Best Picture nominees, Triangle of Sadness.
While it didn’t include everyone it should have, the segment was still an emotional moment for a lot of people, especially John Travolta.
What a sweet and emotional tribute by John Travolta to his beloved co-star Olivia Newton-John. It’s clear she will be remembered and loved for a long time.
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