September 28, 2022

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– Take our breath away

In a special post on his Facebook page, Oddvar Stenstrøm (76) talks about his meeting with Olivia Newton-John. The star became famous by the main role in the movie “Grease”, where she played her opposite John Travolta. She passed away on Monday at just 73.

In 1978, the musical “Grease” was released and became the biggest box office hit of all time. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John became overnight stars. That year, Oddvar Stenstrøm was 32 years old and working for NRK. Together with his colleague Sven Torgersen, he was in Sweden to present the radio program “Even If We Kept the Union?”.

– While we were in Sweden, NRK Marienlyst called us and told us we were going to interview Olivia Newton-John in Stockholm, says Steinstrom. The female part of the star duo of “Grease” was 29 years old and in Stockholm to promote the film.

“It wasn’t hard to convince us. She came toward Sven and I with a Hollywood smile that took the breath away of dozens of young NRK reporters. We were only three or four years older than her. She treated us like good friends. Absolutely no prima donna whims. Olivia was the first famous movie star Globally we met her. Now she’s dead. But memories of this post from nearly 45 years ago are still fresh. RIP Olivia “Stenstrøm writes in an FB post.

– I remember when I went down the stairs towards us at the hotel. We were completely surprised. She had the radiance and smile of our entire family. And she was straight ahead, she smiled at us and said “Hi, Olivia,” and we said “Uddvar” and “Sven.” We get why she was a superstar. She had a radiance, a smile, I was totally fascinated by her.

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There are many beautiful people in the world, but not all of them become a great actor and gain millions of followers. Sven and I have talked about it many times in the years since. She had an indefinable thing about her, which hit home with those who met her, says Steinstrom, adding:

– My wife has something of the same.

Throughout his long career as a journalist, Stenstrøm has met many big stars. Only a few people have the same radiance that he and Turgersen met that day in Stockholm in 1978. In the 1990s, Stenstrøm was a reporter for TV 2 in the USA. There he met Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas. Clinton was then a presidential candidate in the United States.

– He has the same thing. It has the ability to look you in the eye and get your attention, says Stenström, so that you feel like you’re alone in the room. In Norway, former foreign minister Thorvald Stoltenberg was just as radiant, he says.

He had a special ability to care about everyone he met, says Stenstrøm.

Stenstrøm does not remember how the interview in Stockholm went, and what they talked about. But he remembers that Newton-John was easy to talk to, like a friend, and completely without the whims of a prima donna. She took her time and let the reporters ask her empty questions before the interview ended. The 76-year-old did not have any other images from the meeting, except for the one with a retinal burn. They did not have a mobile phone to memorialize the meeting with a selfie, nor did they dare to bring a press camera to the meeting.

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– Se and Hør were also in Stockholm, and we were too scared to find out and interview her. So we didn’t bring a photographer. We didn’t tell Odd Nelvik (who was a Se og Hørs journalist in Stockholm) about the interview until after it was broadcast on NRK Radio.