Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic Olivia Newton-John
A Cleopatra disguise and hours of makeup weren't enough to hide Olivia Newton-John's stardom, her nephew Brett Goldsmith recalls.
The Grease star's family announced her death on Monday at the age of 73. As tributes for the actress pour in, Goldsmith tells PEOPLE what he loved most about his aunt.
"Other than being the wonderful caring person who always called and asked about how life was going for you, she was the best fun to be around, humble and funny," says Goldsmith, the son of Olivia's late sister, Rona Newton-John, who died of brain cancer in 2013.
Thinking back to a fun moment when he joined Olivia on tour in Paris in 1978, Goldsmith recalls the "Magic" singer going to great lengths to avoid the paparazzi, which he says were so "intense she couldn't leave the hotel."
"She had a makeup artist and costume designer come to the hotel to make her up in disguise. She chose a Cleopatra wig and makeup and some crazy coat. It took hours to do, and when she was finally ready to leave we walked out of the hotel thinking we had fooled everyone," Goldsmith says.
John Sciulli/Getty Olivia Newton-John
However, he admits that it only took "seconds" for them to realize "there was no disguising" the beloved star — "and nobody was fooled."
"We spent the next hour racing in the car from the photographers and fans," he continues, adding that the actress reached multiple generations.
"Even into her 60s and beyond, everywhere she went in the world both young and old were drawn to her. I was lucky to be in her family, and I was proud that she recorded some of my songs and we wrote together. I also got to photograph her, and we always had a blast together. She is a rare human that can never be replaced nor forgotten," he says.
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"Dame Olivia Newton-John 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," he wrote.
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"Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer. 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."