CELEBRITY

‘Numb’: Richard Wilkins breaks down remembering Olivia Newton-John

"I just felt completely, just completely numb."
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Entertainment Editor Richard Wilkins has given an emotional tribute to late Australian icon Olivia Newton-John, following the news that she died at the age of 73 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

WATCH: Richard Wilkins breaks down remembering Olivia Newton-John

On Tuesday morning’s episode of Today, a teary Richard remembered his close friend, saying he felt “numb” upon hearing the shocking news.

“I was just sort of numb,” Wilkins told hosts Karl and Ally upon waking early morning phone call that delivered the sad news.

“You know, all the dates and facts and figures and things just disappear and I just felt completely, just completely numb.

“I didn’t really know what to think.”

“I grew up listening in New Zealand on my little transistor radio. She was a beautiful, pure voice, she was a great singer,” he said.

“It is our loss. A world has lost a beautiful human being today. We kind of knew this day was coming, but hoped it would be a long way away.”

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Richard Wilkins held back tears as he recalled receiving the devastating news. (Credit: Nine)

The famed reporter soon broke down as he remembered his dear friend.

“I didn’t want to do this,” he said on air as he began to shed a tear.

“It’s alright. It is the depth…There aren’t too many people you can do a Zoom with and feel it…She touched everyone, didn’t she? Even through a Zoom call, whether it was someone in a hospital, someone on the boardwalks of Hollywood who didn’t even know her that well, that depth of feeling.

“This woman was extraordinary.”

Karl added, “You are encapsulating the pain everyone feeling about Australia.”

“This is so personal. I’m still numb,” Richard added.

RELATED: Chloe Lattanzi’s heartbreaking tribute to mum Olivia Newton-John

He also revealed that the last time he had seen the star was when his son Christian Wilkins, and Olivia’s daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, had appeared together in Dancing With The Stars in early 2020.

“We were sitting opposite [each other] and she was tearing up,” Wilkins said.

“Then my boy … I lost it. but we hung out a bit there, and were immensely proud of our kids, of course.”

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Richard Wilkins and Olivia Newton-John had been friends for a number of years. (Credit: Nine)

Wilkins went on to speak about the legend’s legacy, describing how she “touched” the hearts of “so many people” throughout her life.

“Everybody who was lucky enough to come on her radar, she left with an impression. She was just so generous, she had time for everybody,” he said.

“She signed off all her emails and messages, ‘Love and light, Olivia, kiss, kiss.’ That is what she was about – love and light. She shone that stuff everywhere.”

Olivia’s husband, John Easterling, revealed the news of the Grease stars death via social media this morning, saying she had passed away “surrounded by family and friends” on her ranch in Southern California.

“Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time,” Olivia’s husband wrote.

“Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer.

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Olivia Newton-John has died at the age of 73. (Credit: Getty)

“Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.

“In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the @onjfoundation.”

Olivia also leaves behind her 34-year-old daughter Chloe Lattanzi.

Following news breaking of her death, many of the star’s friends and family also paid tribute to the legend, including her Grease co-star, John Travolta. 

The actors have a long history together, headlining the 1978 musical Grease together and John sharing how Olivia supported him after the death of his wife Kelly.

“My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better,” Travolta wrote.

“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 moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”

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Olivia and John remained close friends after starring in Grease. (Credit: Getty)

Grease director Randal Kleiser also made a statement, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m Heartbroken. She was one of a kind, and so very kind.”

“For over four decades of our friendship she exuded nothing but love to everyone she met. Olivia was exactly the way you imagined her. I will miss her forever.”

Olivia’s daughter Chloe Lattanzi also paid tribute, simply posting a carousel of touching photographs of her and her beloved mum from over the years.

We’re supporting the Olivia Newton-John Foundation by giving them 100% of the profits from the sales of this fabulous ONJ tribute tee. Get yours here.

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