John Travolta (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
John Joseph Travolta (born February 18, 1954) is an American actor, dancer, and singer. Travolta first became known in the 1970s, after appearing on the television series Welcome Back, Kotter and starring in the box office successes Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Travolta's acting career declined through the 1980s. His career enjoyed a resurgence in the 1990s with his role in Pulp Fiction, and he has since continued starring in Hollywood films, including Face/Off, Ladder 49, and Wild Hogs. Travolta was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction. He won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his performance in Get Shorty.
Travolta, the youngest of six children, was born and raised in Englewood, New Jersey, an inner-ring suburb of New York City. His father, Salvatore Travolta (November 1912 - May 1995), was a semi-professional American football player turned tire salesman and partner in a tire company. His mother, Helen Cecilia (née Burke, January 1912 - December 1978), was an actress and singer who had appeared in The Sunshine Sisters, a radio vocal group, and acted and directed before becoming a high school drama and English teacher. His siblings, Joey, Ellen, Ann, Margaret, and Sam Travolta, have all acted. His father was a second-generation Italian American and his mother was Irish American; he grew up in an Irish-American neighborhood and has said that his household was predominantly Irish in culture. He was raised Roman Catholic, but converted to Scientology in 1975. Travolta attended Dwight Morrow High School, but dropped out as a junior at age 17 in 1971.
After attending Dwight Morrow High School, Travolta moved across the Hudson River to New York City and landed a role in the touring company of the musical Grease and on Broadway in Over Here!, singing the Sherman Brothers' song "Dream Drummin'". He then moved to Los Angeles to further his career in show business.
Travolta's first California-filmed television role was as a fall victim in, Emergency! (S2E2), in September 1972, but his first significant movie role was as Billy Nolan, a bully who was goaded into playing a prank on Sissy Spacek's character in the horror film, Carrie (1976). Around the same time, he landed his star-making role as Vinnie Barbarino in the TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979), in which his sister, Ellen, also occasionally appeared (as Arnold Horshack's mother). The show aired on ABC.
Travolta had a hit single entitled "Let Her In", peaking at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July 1976. In the next few years, he appeared in two of his most noted screen roles: Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever (1977) and as Danny Zuko in Grease (1978). The films were among the most commercially successful pictures of the decade and catapulted Travolta to international stardom. Saturday Night Fever earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. At age 24, Travolta became one of the youngest performers ever nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. His mother and his sister Ann appeared as extras in Saturday Night Fever and his sister Ellen appeared as a waitress in Grease. Travolta performed several of the songs on the Grease soundtrack album. In 1980, Travolta inspired a nationwide country music craze that followed on the heels of his hit film, Urban Cowboy, in which he starred with Debra Winger.
After Urban Cowboy, Travolta starred in a series of financial and critical failures that sidelined his acting career. These included Perfect, co-starring Jamie Lee Curtis, and Two of a Kind, a romantic comedy reteaming him with Olivia Newton-John. During that time he was offered, but turned down, lead roles in what would become box office hits, including American Gigolo and An Officer and a Gentleman, both of which went to Richard Gere.
In 1989, Travolta starred in Look Who's Talking, which grossed $297,000,000, making it his most successful film since Grease. Travolta continued to the two sequels Look Who's Talking Too (1990) and Look Who's Talking Now (1993). But it was not until he played Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino's hit Pulp Fiction (1994), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, that his career revived. The movie shifted him back onto the A-list, and he was inundated with offers. Notable roles following Pulp Fiction include a movie-buff loan shark in Get Shorty (1995), an FBI agent and terrorist in Face/Off (1997), a desperate attorney in A Civil Action (1998), a Bill Clinton-esque presidential candidate in Primary Colors (1998), and a military detective in The General's Daughter (1999).
Travolta also starred in Battlefield Earth (2000) based on a work of science fiction by L. Ron Hubbard, in which he played the leader of a group of aliens that enslaves humanity on a bleak future Earth. The film received almost universally negative reviews and did very poorly at the box office. Travolta played Mrs. Edna Turnblad in the remake of Hairspray, his first musical since Grease.
Travolta was in a relationship with actress Diana Hyland, whom he met while filming The Boy in the Plastic Bubble; Hyland died of breast cancer in 1977.
Travolta married actress Kelly Preston in 1991. The couple had a son, Jett (April 13, 1992 - January 2, 2009). Their daughter, Ella Bleu, was born in 2000 and a third child, a son called Benjamin, was born on November 23, 2010 in Florida.
Travolta and Preston have regularly attended marriage counseling; Travolta has stated that therapy has helped the marriage.
Travolta is a certified private pilot and owns five aircraft, including an ex-Qantas Boeing 707-138 airliner. The plane bears the name Jett Clipper Ella in honor of his children. Pan American World Airways was a large operator of the Boeing 707 and used Clipper in its names. The 707 aircraft bears the marks of Qantas, as Travolta acts as an official goodwill ambassador for the airline wherever he flies. His $4.9 million estate in the Jumbolair subdivision in Ocala, Florida, is situated on Greystone Airport with its own runway and taxiway right to his front door.
On November 24, 1992, Travolta was piloting his Gulfstream N728T at night above a solid undercast, when he experienced a total electrical system failure, while flying under instrument flight rules into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. During the emergency landing he almost had a mid-air collision with a USAir Boeing 727, an event attributed to a risky decision by an air traffic controller.
On September 13, 2010, during the first episode of the final season of her talk show, Oprah Winfrey announced that she would be taking her entire studio audience on an 8-day expenses-paid trip to Australia, with Travolta serving as pilot for the trip. He had helped Winfrey plan the trip for over a year.
Travolta has been a practitioner of Scientology since 1975 when he was given the book Dianetics while filming the movie The Devil's Rain in Durango, Mexico. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, joining other celebrities in helping with the relief efforts, Travolta flew his 707 full of supplies, doctors, and Scientologist Volunteer Ministers into the disaster area.
In May 2012, an anonymous masseur filed a lawsuit against Travolta citing claims of sexual assault and battery. A lawyer for Travolta said that the allegations were "complete fiction and fabrication" and someone wanting their 15 minutes of fame. Travolta's counsel also stated that his client would be able to prove that he was not in California on the day in question and asserted that Travolta would "sue the attorney and Plaintiff for malicious prosecution" after getting the case thrown out. A second masseur later joined the lawsuit making similar claims. Both lawsuits were subsequently dropped by the complainants and dismissed without prejudice.
A judge ruled to dismiss a defamation lawsuit against Travolta and his attorney Marty Singer by writer Robert Randolph. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Malcolm Mackey dismissed the case on September 27, 2012 because he found that a letter, written by Singer in response to allegations in a book by Randolph, had free speech protection.
On January 2, 2009, Travolta and Preston's son, Jett, died while on their vacation in The Bahamas. A Bahamian death certificate was issued, attributing the cause of death to a seizure. Jett, who had a history of seizures, reportedly suffered from Kawasaki disease as an infant. In 2009, Travolta and Preston confirmed speculation that their son had autism and suffered regular seizures. They made their statements while giving testimony after a multi-million dollar extortion plot against them regarding the circumstances of their son's death. After a mistrial, Travolta dropped the charges. Travolta has credited his family and faith in helping him survive the tragic death of his son, and in moving forward with his film career.