Helen_Reddy

Hear Helen Reddy on "The Lost 45s."

Source: The Guardian

Superstar Australian singer and trailblazing feminist icon Helen Reddy dies aged 78 in Los Angeles after battling dementia... just months after her I Am Woman biopic was released.

Australian singer Helen Reddy has died aged 78.

Reddy, best known for her empowering anthem I Am Woman, died in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon, five years after she was diagnosed with dementia.

The Melbourne-born songstress and trailblazing feminist activist, whose life was recently crafted into a biopic of the same name, was also known for hits such as Delta Dawn, Angie Baby and Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady.

They wrote: 'It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Helen Reddy, on the afternoon of September 29th 2020 in Los Angeles.

Reddy, best known for her empowering anthem I Am Woman, died in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon, five years after she was diagnosed with dementia.

The Melbourne-born songstress and trailblazing feminist activist, whose life was recently crafted into a biopic of the same name, was also known for hits such as Delta Dawn and Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady.

Her two children, Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers, made the announcement of her passing on Facebook.

They wrote: 'It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Helen Reddy, on the afternoon of September 29th 2020 in Los Angeles.

'She was a wonderful Mother, Grandmother and a truly formidable woman. Our hearts are broken. But we take comfort in the knowledge that her voice will live on forever.'

Her cause of death has not been confirmed, however since her dementia diagnosis in 2015 Reddy had been living in a nursing home in LA for retired Hollywood talent.

Media commentator Peter Ford added on 6PR: 'She has been in not great health for several years now, you may be aware that dementia struck her about three years ago and she’s been getting progressively worse.'

Reddy was a pioneer behind the women's rights movement of the 1970s, and her passing comes just months after the biopic, I Am Woman, depicted the wondrous changes she made throughout her career.

The film follows the early days of Helen's music career, shortly after she moved to America in the 1970s, in the middle of the women's rights movement.

Her hit song became an anthem for the movement, but it wasn't without some hardships, with Helen having to convince record executives of its value.

She also had to fight for fair pay, after learning her all-male band was earning more money than she was.

The film stars Australian actress Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Helen, and also features Evan Peters and Danielle Macdonald.

The biopic features the time Helen famously won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal, where she stated in her acceptance speech: 'I'd like to thank God, because she makes everything possible'.

The inspiring story is directed by female filmmaker Unjoo Moon and is from the producers behind The Sapphires, the 2012 movie starring Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy and Chris O'Dowd.

Following her passing, Moon paid tribute to Reddy in an emotional statement, which read: 'When I first met Helen Reddy, she told me that I would be in her life for many years.

'What followed was an amazing seven-year friendship during which she entrusted me with telling her story in a film that celebrates her life, her talents and her amazing legacy.

'I will forever be grateful to Helen for teaching me so much about being an artist, a woman and a mother.

'She paved the way for so many and the lyrics that she wrote for I am Woman changed my life forever like they have done for so many other people and will continue to do for generations to come.'

She continued: 'She will always be a part of me and I will miss her enormously. On behalf of all of us involved in making the film I am Woman, producer Rosemary Blight and I extend our condolences to Helen’s family especially her children Traci and Jordan, her granddaughter Lily and her ex-husband Jeff.'

In an interview with Billboard in September, Australian actress Tilda Cobham-Hervey, 25, said she opted not to meet Helen before working on the movie.

She said she only met the legendary singer 'right at the end' of filming, calling it 'a creative choice'.

'Helen is at a very different stage in her life now. We're obviously talking about her from the age of 24 to 48, and it was really important that I stayed present within that part of her life,' the actress explained at the time.

'There's also so much information about her. I read her book, which was really helpful. There's a million interviews and all her performances, and the director Unjoo had such a close relationship with her and her family that I had all the knowledge and research that I needed.'

She added: 'We're still making a film and creating characters, and I fell so in love with her that I think I would've found it really hard to meet her.'

Throughout her life, Helen married three times; at age 20, she married musician and family friend Kenneth Weate, separating with him shortly after the birth of their daughter, Traci.

She later married Jeff Wald in 1968, of whom she had son Jordan, born in 1972. However, the pair divorced in 1983.

Her third marriage was to Milton Ruth, a drummer in her band - but again, the duo divorced in 1995.

Helen leaves behind her two children and her granddaughter, Lily.