The horrifying story of how two dangerous stalkers obsessed with Olivia Newton-John forced her to flee to Australia
Olivia Newton-John had to face some really challenging times, especially involving her brush with Louisiana-based Michael Owen Perry, as well as Wisconsin-born Ralph Nau, a couple of deadly stalkers who were after her life
Fans turning into fanatics is never a pleasant experience. Celebrities often grapple with the negative effects of fame when obsessive fans end up posing a threat to their lives. This was the case with singer and actress Olivia Newton-John. There was a period when, at the height of her fame, her life was marred Louisiana-based Michael Owen Perry, as well as Wisconsin-born Ralph Nau who became obsessed with killing her. They had become 'hopelessly devoted' to her.
According to a documentary titled 'Hopelessly Devoted To You', which is based on the life and times of the Australian singer, it was revealed that the situation with Michael stalking the singer got so bad after a point that she had to flee her residence in California in order to keep herself safe. The documentary follows the life of the 'Grease' actress from her teenage days up to her philanthropic achievements in the field of healthcare and beyond.
Michael was an escapee from a mental institution when he became obsessed with Olivia, who was in her early 30s at the time. He believed that he was a god and the 'Grease' actress a goddess. He used to bombard the actress with a tonne of disturbing fan mail. In 1982 she found two letters from him addressed to her. One of it contained a collage of various public photographs, however, they had one detail which stood out starkly. In every picture of the actress, her eyes appeared to have been scratched out with a needle-like object, giving the whole letter an extremely eerie effect. At the time of the incident, Olivia was so distraught with fear and stress, that all she could do was pack up her bags and get on the first plane out to Australia to save herself from it all.
Michael's obsession with Olivia was further explained when he was caught by police officials, who revealed that in July 17, 1983, he had gone on a killing spree in Lake Arthur, Louisiana where he had shot out his parents' eyes with a shotgun, killed his infant nephew, as well as two cousins at another house. He attacked his family because they prevented him from continuing his celebrity obsession.
As per the police investigation that ensued, Michael's notebook was found near where the bodies of his family had been, which contained a list of names: some joined by lines, some circled, few even underlined. It was also found that Michael used to write the word 'sky' beside the names of people he had already killed, and security officials further figured out that the rest of the names in his notepad were of people that he intended to murder. Olivia Newton-John was one among those names. When the singer found out that his next target was going to be her, she immediately abandoned her California home to go live with her parents for a while.
The investigation revealed that he had composed a death list of 10 names, including Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She was the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. "No woman should be above a man," he once told his doctors, so the fact that O'Connor had just risen to a high position might have made her his next victim. In August 1983 after shooting and killing his family members, Michael was arrested from Washington at a place near the Supreme Court.
In 1984, a jury convicted Michael of the five Louisiana murders and sentenced him to death. But by 1988 questions were being raised about Michael's competence to be executed. He was being medicated with Haloperidol in prison. It is a psychiatric medication (antipsychotic-type) used to treat certain mental and mood disorders. The examining committee had concluded that he was mentally incapable to understand his punishment. Michael's lawyers had then filed a case in the Supreme Court in 1989 over the legality of forcibly medicating a death row inmate with a mental disorder, to render him competent to be executed, famously known as the case of 'Michael Owen Perry vs. the State of Louisiana'.
In a unanimous decision, the court then ruled that forced medication was a violation of the right to privacy. So the 64-year-old Michael remains on death row in the Angola State Penitentiary.
However, while Olivia was being stalked by Michael another scary fan, Ralph Nau took a fascination to her. He began stalking the singer in 1980 after he was convinced she was his lover and was sending him messages. Ralph, at the time of stalking the singer, was also already targeting 40 celebrities, including Madonna and Cher. He was convinced they were married to him. After getting a fake license under the name of Shawn Newton-John, he obtained Olivia's residential address and began stalking her.
In a span of three years, Ralph sent the songstress 600 terrifying letters, and later in 1984, he murdered Dennis Gerken, who was his stepfather Ken's son from a previous marriage. Ralph was caught by the police on the very next day, where he confessed to having killed his 8-year-old, severely disabled stepbrother with an ax because he was trying to prevent him from watching an important TV show, where Olivia was apparently giving him signals.
Upon examination at a psychiatric center in Chester, the doctors were convinced that Ralph was seriously ill and even the court ruled that his confession could not be taken seriously because he was mentally unstable. Ralph remains in a mental institution and his case is reviewed twice a year.
While the actress has no wish to remember this frightening period in her life, now she seems to be dealing with a new problem. Earlier this year there were rumors and reports on the Internet suggesting that the singer was dying and that the 70-year-old star had 'only weeks to live' as she was losing her fight against cancer. Her representative has since denied the authenticity of the reports and has said that the star was not dying.