Olivia Newton-John Heads 2020 U.K. New Year Honours List

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Olivia Newton-John is being celebrated for her services to charity, cancer research and entertainment. The beloved singer, actress and author has been named a dame in the 2020 New Year Honours by the British government. The star reacted to the news, announced late Friday evening (Dec. 27), by saying she was “excited, honoured and grateful beyond words.”

The formal ceremony will take place sometime in 2020. Dame is the female equivalent of Sir, and makes the Grease star a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She turned 71 on Sept. 26, 2019.

Several other recording artists joined Newton-John on the extensive list of 1000 names.

Sir Elton Hercules John, who was knighted in 1998, was named a Companion of Honour, a special award granted to those who have made a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government lasting over a long period of time. The members, of which there are a maximum of 65 at any one time, currently include actress Dame Maggie Smith, author J.K. Rowling, and actor Sir Ian McKellen. He joins Paul McCartney who was named a Companion in 2018.

Queen drummer Roger Taylor was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Singer Billy Ocean was named a Member.

Other British music stars who have been knighted over the years include Mick JaggerTom JonesVan MorrisonRod Stewart (in a 2016 ceremony), the Kinks’ Ray Davies (who received the honors in 2017), and Ringo Starr and Barry Gibb (both 2018).

Other entertainment figures on the 2020 list include film directors Sam Mendes (1917, American Beauty) and Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave).

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, Newton-John has been a staunch advocate for health awareness which inspired her to help create and become the Founding Champion of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia, a cutting edge facility that provides a comprehensive range of services for cancer treatment, education, training and research including a wellness centre to support the mind, body and spirit (ONJCancerCentre.org).

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