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John Travolta
John Travolta Deauville 2013 2.jpgTravolta in 2013
BornJohn Joseph Travolta
(1954-02-18) February 18, 1954 (age 63)
Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
ResidenceJumbolair subdivision; Ocala, Florida
Los Angeles
OccupationActor, producer, writer, singer, dancer, pilot
Years active1972–present
Spouse(s)Kelly Preston (m. 1991)
RelativesMargaret Travolta (sister)
Ellen Travolta (sister)
Joey Travolta (brother)

John Joseph Travolta (born February 18, 1954)[1][2] is an American actor, producer, dancer, and singer. Travolta first became known in the 1970s, after appearing on the television series Welcome Back, Kotter (1975–1979) and starring in the box office successes Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Grease (1978). His acting career declined through the 1980s, but enjoyed a resurgence in the 1990s with his role in Pulp Fiction (1994), and he has since starred in films such as Face/Off (1997), Swordfish (2001), Wild Hogs, and Hairspray (both 2007).

Travolta was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for performances in Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction. He won his only Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for his performance in Get Shorty and has received a total of six nominations, the most recent being in 2008. In 2014, he received the IIFA Award for Outstanding Achievement in International Cinema.[3] In 2016, Travolta received his first Primetime Emmy Award as a producer of the first season of the anthology series American Crime Story, subtitled The People v. O. J. Simpson, also receiving an additional Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of lawyer Robert Shapiro in the series.


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
    • 2.1 Early career
    • 2.2 1970s stardom
    • 2.3 Downturn
    • 2.4 Resurgence
    • 2.5 2000–present
  • 3 Personal life
    • 3.1 Relationships
    • 3.2 Son's death
    • 3.3 Religion
    • 3.4 Pilot
  • 4 Filmography
    • 4.1 Film
    • 4.2 Television
  • 5 Discography
    • 5.1 Albums
    • 5.2 Singles
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 Further reading
  • 9 External links

Early life

Travolta, the youngest of six children,[4] was born[1] and raised in Englewood, New Jersey, an inner-ring suburb of New York City. His father, Salvatore Travolta (November 1912 – May 1995),[5] was a semi-professional American football player[citation needed] turned tire salesman and partner in a tire company.[1] His mother, Helen Cecilia (née Burke; January 18, 1912 – December 1978),[5] 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.[6] His siblings, Joey, Ellen, Ann, Margaret, and Sam Travolta, have all acted.[6] His father was a second-generation Italian American and his mother was Irish American;[7][8] he grew up in an Irish-American neighborhood and has said that his household was predominantly Irish in culture.[9][10] He was raised Roman Catholic, but converted to Scientology in 1975.[8][11] Travolta attended Dwight Morrow High School, but dropped out as a junior at age 17 in 1971.[12]

Early career

After attending Dwight Morrow High School,[13] 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'".[14][15] 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,[16] 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).[17] 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).[18] The show aired on ABC.

1970s stardom

Travolta had a hit single entitled "Let Her In", peaking at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July 1976.[19][20][21] 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).[6] The films were among the most commercially successful pictures of the decade and catapulted Travolta to international stardom.[22] Saturday Night Fever earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.[23] At age 24, Travolta became one of the youngest performers ever nominated for the Best Actor Oscar.[24] His mother and his sister Ann appeared in minor roles 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.[25] 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.[26]


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[27] and An Officer and a Gentleman, both of which went to Richard Gere.[28]


In 1989, Travolta starred with Kirstie Alley 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.[6][29][30] 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),[6] and a military investigator in The General's Daughter (1999).


Travolta also starred in and co-produced 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.[31] Travolta's performance in Battlefield Earth also earned him two Razzie Awards. In 2007, he starred in Wild Hogs and played Mrs. Edna Turnblad in the remake of Hairspray, his first musical since Grease.[32] In 2008 he lent his voice for the film Bolt, in which he played the title role.

In 2016, Travolta returned to TV in the first season of the anthology series American Crime Story, titled The People v. O. J. Simpson. The series was developed by screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, and he portrayed Robert Shapiro.[33]


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.[34]

Travolta married actress Kelly Preston in 1991, and bought a house in Islesboro, Maine.[35] The couple had a son, Jett (April 13, 1992 – January 2, 2009).[36] Their daughter, Ella Bleu, was born in 2000 and a third child, a son named Benjamin, was born in 2010 in Florida.[37] Travolta and Preston have regularly attended marriage counseling; Travolta has stated that therapy has helped the marriage.[38]

In May 1991, Time magazine published a cover story entitled "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power". In the article, former Church of Scientology Executive Director William Franks alleged that Travolta was wary of leaving the faith because he feared the Church would publish detailed revelations of his private life, to include homosexual behavior.[39] These claims were reiterated by Franks and other Scientology defectors in Lawrence Wright's 2013 book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, and former Church official Marty Rathbun claimed that he worked with Travolta's attorneys several times to keep allegations about Travolta's homosexuality out of the press and resolve lawsuits against the star.[40][41]

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.[42] A second masseur later joined the lawsuit making similar claims.[43][44] Both lawsuits were subsequently dropped by the complainants and dismissed without prejudice.[45]

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.[46]

In September 2014, Travolta denied claims made in January 2014 by his former pilot, Douglas Gotterba, that they had shared a sexual relationship while working for Travolta's aircraft company, Alto, for six years before leaving voluntarily in 1987. Gotterba argued that he was not bound by any confidentiality agreement during his term in the position.[47]

Son's death

In 2009, Travolta's son, Jett, died at age 16 while on a Christmas vacation in the Bahamas.[48][49] A Bahamian death certificate was issued, attributing the cause of death to a seizure.[50] Jett, who had a troubled history of seizures, reportedly suffered from Kawasaki disease at the age of two.[51][52] Travolta confirmed speculation that his son had autism and suffered regular seizures and immediately made his public statements while giving testimony after a multimillion-dollar extortion plot against him in connection to his son's death.[53] After a mistrial, Travolta dropped the charges and has credited his immediate family and Scientology with helping him survive the death of his son and in moving forward with his film career.[54][55][56] In memory of his son, Travolta founded the Jett Travolta Foundation, a non-profit organization to help children with special needs.[57] It has contributed to organizations such as the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center [58]


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.[59] After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, joining other celebrities in helping with the relief efforts, Travolta flew his Boeing 707 full of supplies, doctors, and Scientologist Volunteer Ministers into the disaster area.[60]


Travolta is a private pilot.[61][62] He owns five aircraft, including an ex-Qantas Boeing 707-138 airliner that bears the name Jett Clipper Ella in honor of his children.[63] 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.[64]

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 house, with two outbuildings for covered access to planes.[61][65][66]

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.[67]

Travolta was inducted into the Living Legends of Aviation in 2007 and acts as the award show's official ambassador.[68]

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 more than a year.[69]

He is the author of the book Propeller One-Way Night Coach, the story of a young boy's first flight.[70]

See also

  • iconScientology portal
  • List of oldest and youngest Academy Award winners and nominees – Youngest Nominees for Best Actor


  1. ^ a b c "John Travolta Biography (1954–)". Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Monitor". Entertainment Weekly (1247). February 22, 2013. p. 32. 
  3. ^ "IIFA 2014: John Travolta, Kevin Spacey star in 'Bollywood Oscars' - NDTV Movies". April 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ Pearce, Garth (July 15, 2007). "On the move: John Travolta". Times Online. London. Retrieved July 17, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved May 14, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2003
  7. ^ "Begorrah!! Travolta's Irish...". Showbiz Ireland. January 7, 2007. Retrieved July 17, 2007. 
  8. ^ a b Flynn, Gaynor (February 28, 2010). "The resurrection man". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved September 9, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Celebetty: John Travolta". 2000. Retrieved July 17, 2007. 
  10. ^ Grant, Meg (February 2005). "Night Moves". Reader's Digest. Retrieved July 17, 2007. 
  11. ^ "The Big Question: John Travolta". "THE BIG QUESTION" BBC1. January 28, 2004. Retrieved July 17, 2007. 
  12. ^ Reeves, Michael. "Travolta recalls lonely high schooldays", The StarPhoenix, September 28, 1978. Accessed June 12, 2011. "As far as academics were concerned, John was not the best student at Dwight Morrow High School. He confesses that 'I was only an average student.'"
  13. ^ "Q&A: John Travolta". Sports Illustrated. February 28, 2007. Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Masterworks & Playbill Debut 2 Editors' Choice Compilations". March 11, 2007. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  15. ^ Collins, Nancy (August 18, 1983). "Sex and the Single Star: John Travolta". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  16. ^ "The Quintessential Tarot Tina: What's on the Cards for Star John Travolta". July 3, 2005. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  17. ^ Mcelroy, Steven (July 8, 2006). "What's on Tonight". New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  18. ^ "A Sister's Inspiration – John Travolta Followed Ellen's Lead into Acting". The Spokesman-Review. July 7, 1996. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  19. ^ Let Her In – John Travolta retrieved: 2012-08-24.
  20. ^ Blank, Ed (March 28, 2003). "John Travolta talks about his past, his present and his destiny in Hollywood". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  21. ^ "Then & Now: 10 Best Teen Idols of All Time". January 1, 2009. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  22. ^ White, Jim (October 17, 1994). "Look who's acting: Staying Alive was dire. Perfect was anything but. Now, courtesy of Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, Travolta is back.". The Independent. London. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  23. ^ DiOrio, Carl (December 14, 1977). "Saturday Night Fever". Variety. Retrieved August 26, 2009. [dead link]
  24. ^ Karger, Dave (April 27, 2007). "Spotlight on Ryan Gosling". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  25. ^ "Travolta, R.E.M., Moby, Danzig Make Movie/Music Crossovers". July 17, 1997. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  26. ^ "John Travolta". MTV. February 18, 1954. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  27. ^ Jackson, Kevin (February 6, 1996). "High-concept high roller". The Independent. London. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  28. ^ "John Travolta goes the whole Hog with his new hit movie". The Independent. London. April 6, 2007. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  29. ^ Lasalle, Mick (October 15, 1995). "Making Movies With the Mob / John Travolta stars as gangster producer in Elmore Leonard's 'Get Shorty'". Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  30. ^ James, Caryn (December 2, 2004). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; As Praise Flows, Travolta Awaits His 3rd Comeback". New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  31. ^ John Travolta at Rotten Tomatoes
  32. ^ "Travolta on becoming a woman, interview with stv/movies, June 2007". Archived from the original on December 19, 2007. Retrieved 2017-04-26. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  33. ^ Ryan, Maureen. "In His High-Profile Return to TV, John Travolta Gets Noticed". Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  34. ^ "Biography of Diana Hyland". IMDB. Retrieved March 28, 2007. 
  35. ^ Tour John Travolta and Kelly Preston's Shingle Style Home in Maine | Architectural Digest Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  36. ^ Douglas Thompson (January 3, 2009). "'For John Travolta, protecting Jett was everything'". London: Retrieved May 14, 2011. 
  37. ^ "John Travolta and Kelly Preston Welcome Son Benjamin". November 24, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010. 
  38. ^ Linton, Marilyn (February 10, 2009). "Therapy can keep it real when the honeymoon is over". London Free Press. Retrieved February 12, 2009. [dead link]
  39. ^ Behar, Richard (May 6, 1991). "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power". Time. Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  40. ^ Wright, Lawrence (2013). Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. Vintage Books, A Division of Random House. pp. 199, 383. ISBN 978-0307745309. 
  41. ^ Lawrence Wright (January 9, 2013). "Scientology Book Excerpt: 'The Church Had John Travolta Trapped'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  42. ^ "John Travolta Sued for Assault and Sexual Battery by Masseur, Actor's Rep Calls Claim a "Baseless Lie"". E! Online. Retrieved May 7, 2012. 
  43. ^ "John Travolta fights back as two masseurs allege sexual harassment – Chicago Sun-Times". Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  44. ^ "BBC News – John Travolta faces more masseur abuse claims". May 9, 2012. Retrieved May 9, 2012. 
  45. ^ "Second masseur drops John Travolta lawsuit". The Daily Telegraph. London. May 17, 2012. 
  46. ^ Matthews, KJ. "Lawsuit against John Travolta dismissed, again". CNN. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  47. ^ Selby, Jenn (September 16, 2014). "John Travolta addresses former pilot's gay romance allegations publicly for the first time". The Independent. London. 
  48. ^ "Jett Travolta, son of actors, dies at 16". CNN. January 2, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2009. 
  49. ^ "John Travolta's teenage son dies". BBC News Online. BBC. January 2, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2009. 
  50. ^ "Death Certificate: John Travolta's Son Died of a Seizure". ABC News. January 5, 2009. Retrieved January 5, 2009. 
  51. ^ "John Travolta's 16-Year-Old Son Dies". People. January 2, 2009. Retrieved January 4, 2009. 
  52. ^ Errico, Marcus (January 2, 2009). "John Travolta's Son Jett Dead at 16". E! Online. Retrieved January 2, 2009. 
  53. ^ Abraham, Mary Rose (September 23, 2009). "From John Travolta: I Ran Down the Stairs To Help My Son". ABC News. Retrieved September 23, 2009. 
  54. ^ Usborne, David (October 23, 2009). "Judge declares mistrial in Travolta extortion case". The Independent. London. Retrieved June 28, 2011. 
  55. ^ Allen, Nick (September 6, 2010). "John Travolta to drop charges in extortion case". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved June 28, 2011. 
  56. ^ "John Travolta: Scientology Helped Me Heal". January 28, 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2011. 
  57. ^ "The Jett Travolta Foundation". Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. 
  58. ^ "The Jett Travolta Foundation Donated". 
  59. ^ "Successes of Scientology". Church of Scientology International. May 2007. Retrieved May 21, 2007. 
  60. ^ "John Travolta's mercy flight to Haiti". Douglas Hyde – CNN Entertainment Producer. January 25, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  61. ^ a b Stibbe, Matthew (September 26, 2011). "John Travolta's Florida Fly-in Home". Forbes. 
  62. ^ FAA Airmen Certification Database of September 1, 2014, lists Travolta as ID A1927078, with private pilot licence ratings P/ASEL (Private Airplane Single Engine Land), P/AMEL (Private Airplane Multi-Engine Land), P/INSTA (Private Instrument Airplane), and eight aircraft: P/B-707 (Boeing 707), P/B-720 (Boeing 720), P/CE-500 (Cessna 500), P/CL-600 (Bombardier Challenger 600), P/EA-500S (Eclipse 500), P/G-1159 (Gulfstream II), P/HS-125 (British Aerospace 125), P/LR-JET (Learjet).
  63. ^ "John Travolta's Boeing 707 at – Aviation Blog". Retrieved April 27, 2012. 
  64. ^ "John Travolta Qantas Ambassador-at-large". Qantas – Ambassadors. Qantas airlines official website. Retrieved March 20, 2014. 
  65. ^ Kelly Preston showed a picture of this on the August 29, 2007, episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
  66. ^ 'It's something in my blood!': John Travolta invites Today Show into his multi-million dollar Florida mansion to check out his very own private airport and fleet of private jets, Sarah Sayers, Daily Mail Australia, September 10, 2014
  67. ^ "Travolta Lucky To Live Through Incident – Orlando Sentinel". March 27, 1995. Retrieved April 27, 2012. 
  68. ^ Forgione, Mary (January 15, 2015). "John Travolta to host show honoring 'Living Legends' of flight". LA Times. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  69. ^ Clark, Ally (September 13, 2010). "Oprah Taking Audience Down Under, with Travolta at Controls". NBC Chicago. Retrieved September 14, 2010. 
  70. ^ Travolta, John (October 1997). Propeller One-Way Night Coach. Warner Books. ISBN 978-0446522571. 
  71. ^ "John Travolta". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 22, 2012. 

Further reading

  • Tast, Brigitte (ed.). John Travolta. (Hildesheim/Germany 1978.) ISBN 3-88842-103-9.

External links

External images
Fly-in home in Jumbolair, aerial view, Celebrity Homes
Fly-in home in Jumbolair, aerial view
Ground-level view of port, Architectural Digest > Celebrity Style: John Travolta, slide 2
  • Official website
  • John Travolta at the Internet Movie Database
  • John Travolta at the Internet Broadway Database Edit this at Wikidata
  • John Travolta at Box Office Mojo
  • John Travolta at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  • John Travolta at Rotten Tomatoes
  • John Travolta: A Passionate Ambassador Of Aviation

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