Meet John Travolta's Beloved Women and Beautiful Family
Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction, and Be Cool are mere drops in the bucket of John Travolta's iconic films. He famously danced his way into Princess Diana's heart and held the first love of his life, Diana Hyland, in his arms when she died of breast cancer. Plenty of heartthrobs have graced the screen, but few captured as many hearts - or had as many questions about their sexuality - as John Travolta. Join us as we take a look at the man who traded his signature swinging hips for the role of devoted family man.
Born John Joseph Travolta in Englewood, New Jersey, he is one of six children. His parents are Helen Travolta and Salvatore/Samuel J. Travolta. Following his mother's footsteps, he began acting in a local production of 'Who'll Save the Plowboy?.' He landed his first professional job at the age of sixteen in a summer stock production of the musical 'Bye Bye Birdie,' found success in the TV series 'Welcome Back, Kotter', on the soundtrack for the movie Bolt, and parenting in Look Who's Talking. He even installed a mechanical bull in his home while filming Urban Cowboy!
BEFORE FORTUNE, FAME AND EVERYTHING THAT GOES WITH IT
But, before that, he was a highschool dropout who moved to New York. A struggling actor trying to make ends meet, he took on several side jobs to pay his bills, including a supermarket check-out boy and an airline luggage porter. On the side, he appeared in summer stock and television commercials. After jobs ran out in New York, he decided to move to Hollywood, where he landed minor roles in several series.
Travolta's first screen role was as a fall victim in Emergency!, in September 1972, and his first significant movie role came opposite Sissy Spacek in the horror film Carrie. He portrayed Billy Nolan, a bully who pranked Spacek's character. He then landed the role of Vinnie Barbarino in the TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. His sister, Ellen, occasionally appeared on the show as Arnold Horshack's mother.
The series aired from 1975 until 1979. In 1976 Travolta charged into the music industry with a hit single titled "Let Her In." It peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July 1976. The 70s also saw starring roles for Travolta in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, and Danny Zuko in Grease.
The films were some of the most commercially successful pictures of the decade and catapulted Travolta to international stardom. He earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for Saturday Night Fever, in which his mother and his sister Ann had brief cameos. His sister, Ellen, joined him on the set of Grease as well, playing a waitress.
Travolta followed his early success with a series of commercial and critical failures. These included Two of a Kind, a romantic comedy in which he re-teamed with Olivia Newton-John, and Perfect, co-starring Jamie Lee Curtis. He also reprised his role as Tony Manero in Staying Alive, the 1983 sequel to Saturday Night Fever. The film was financially a success, grossing over $65 million, but disliked by critics, and his acting career was temporarily sidelined.
During that time, Travolta declined several lead roles in what became box-office hits, including Splash, American Gigolo and An Officer and a Gentleman, both of the latter went to Richard Gere. Many years later, he also turned down a role in the 2002 film Chicago, which also went to Gere.
In 1989, Travolta joined Kirstie Alley in Look Who's Talking, which grossed $297 million, making it his most successful film since Grease. They reunited for Look Who's Talking Too and Look Who's Talking Now. However, his career wasn't fully revived until he played Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino's hit Pulp Fiction, for which he received an Academy Award nomination.
JOHN TRAVOLTA AND THE WOMEN
Great mystery has surrounded Travolta's private life. The list of his supposed romantic partners has been extensive. As a couple, Travolta and Preston have managed years of rumored homosexual relationship, including accusations from male masseurs and his former co-pilot. There are even reports that he was extorted by members of his Church. Now, he's setting the record and intense speculation straight.
Travolta met Diana Hyland on the set of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, in which he played her son. She was eighteen years older than him, but it was an aspect they took no notice of and began dating in 1976. In 1977, Hyland was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy, but the cancer spread. She passed away in Travolta's arms on March 27, 1977, in Los Angeles.
Henner and Travolta dated off and on for 13 years! They met on November 28, 1972, when rehearsals for the road company of Grease, the play, and they both loved to go dancing on their nights off. Their longest period together lasted from August 1978 to May 1989. During that time, Travolta took her flying at least twice a week, and Henner commented that they never spent two weekends in the same place.
"From the moment we met," she said. "we immediately adored each other."
Kirstie Alley and Travolta didn't exactly have a romantic affair. Their first meeting came when they starred alongside each other in Look Who's Talking. Alley was married to Parker Stevenson at the time and said because of that, she couldn't get romantically involved with her handsome co-star. In an interview with Howard Stern, she said it took years to stop seeing Travolta as a romantic interest. The two have maintained a serious friendship, firmly rooted in their shared practice of Scientology.
Before marrying Travolta, Kelly Preston had a string of high profile relationships. In 1985 she and actor Kevin Gage tied the knot in Hawaii. In 1987, Travolta and Preston met at a screen test for the comedy The Experts, but Preston was still married to Gage. Travolta claimed it was love at first sight, but Preston told Andy Cohen it was only "kinda" love at first sight. She added:
"Well, I was not that happily married; let's put it that way. I was really with the wrong person."
Gage and Preston divorced later that year. She then became romantically involved with George Clooney. After breaking up in 1989, she kept the pet pig that Clooney gave her while they were together. In 1990, she was briefly engaged to Charlie Sheen. That relationship ended after he allegedly shot her in the arm. Preston denied the event in a 2011 interview with TMZ.
In 1991, while filming separate movies in Vancouver, Travolta and Preston realized they couldn't deny their feelings any longer. Travolta later proposed at the Palace Hotel restaurant in Gstaad, Switzerland. Although Preston was surprised by the sudden proposal, they tied the knot on September 5, 1991, in Paris. Preston was two months pregnant with the couple's first child. A Scientology minister held the unannounced ceremony at the Hotel de Crillon. They walked down the aisle a second time on US soil in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The couple had three children together: Jett, born on April 13, 1992; Ella, born on April 3, 2000; and Ben, born on November 3, 2010. They lost Jett suddenly when he passed away in January 2009 while on vacation with his family in the Bahamas. After he passed, his parents revealed that he had autism and Kawasaki Syndrome, which caused the seizure that led to his death. Fifteen years before he passed, his father had said:
"I can't imagine what life would be like without Jett."
Jett's death rocked the family to their core. To make matters worse, on January 23, 2009, three people were arrested in the Bahamas in connection with a multimillion-dollar extortion plot against the family concerning the circumstances of Jett's death. One of the men, Obie Wilchcombe, was a member of the Bahamian Parliament and former Bahamian Minister of Tourism. He was described as a "close friend" of Travolta and Preston. The other two were an EMT named Tarino Lightbourne and Bahamian senator, Pleasant Bridgewater. Bridgewater was charged with conspiracy to extort. He resigned from the Senate as a result of the allegations. The first trial ended in a mistrial, followed by the Travolta's electing to drop the case. Travolta credited Scientology for helping him survive the death of his son and in moving forward with his film career. Travolta was raised Roman Catholic and converted to Scientology in 1975. On Good Morning America, Travolta said,
"Forty years for me, I've been a part [of it], and I've loved every minute of it. My family has done so well with it. It's been a beautiful thing for me. I've saved lives with it and saved my own life several times. Through my loss of my son, it helped me every step of the way for two years solid, and here I am."
Two years after the tragedy, the family found some semblance of peace with a new baby. They welcomed Benjamin Travolta in 2010. Travolta opened up about Ben's birth, saying the birth became a glue, re-bonding the family after tremendous loss.
ELLA BLEU TRAVOLTA
Ella Bleu followed in her parents' footsteps and is pursuing a career in acting. She appeared in the 2009 film Old Dogs, and has a starring role in the 2019 film The Poison Rose, acting alongside her father, Brendan Fraser, and Morgan Freeman. The actress joined Instagram on May 22, 2019, by sharing a video greeting as her first post. She added the caption, "Welcome everyone!! I'm really excited to start this journey with you guys." Within two days, her account attracted nearly 50,000 followers.
THE FAMILY MAN
Travolta and Preston have never shied away from discussing the difficult moments in their marriage. Both have been opened about their work with a Scientology marriage counselor and revealed how they make their marriage work in Closer Weekly. Travolta said he and Preston are always working to make their relationship stronger.
"We really care deeply about each other, and we protect each other — and we keep [our relationship] up to date," Preston added, "Keep checking in and keep growing and changing. Keep doing things, just the two of you."
Travolta was also revealed as a total pushover with their children. Preston disclosed, "Daddy says yes to everything. He is that dad. They come to me first. [Ben] comes to me and says, 'Can I have ice cream?' at midnight, and I say, 'No, no, you have to go to bed' — and, mind you, it's midnight, and he's 5. And Dad's like, 'Sure! Do you want hot fudge on that?'"
A SECRET LIFE?
In 2017, a police report published online alleged “sexual battery” by a male masseur in 2000. Robert Randolph’s 2012 Los Angeles gay sex tell-all 'You’ll Never Spa in This Town Again' included Travolta in his list, and in 2009 Carrie Fisher told Out magazine, “We don’t really care that John Travolta is gay.”
Karen de la Carriere, one of Scientology’s most powerful executives - and one of the last personally trained by L. Ron Hubbard - met Travolta when he joined in 1975. She says Travolta is “a bad boy who likes risky sexual adventures,” and Preston is, “either deluded or more likely just deaf to the whole thing.”
“The church has a very intense indoctrination to prepare you for anything you might hear. It’s like a pre-emptive strike in case something uncomfortable comes up. Kelly’s been trained to not believe what she hears in the media. She’s been trained to think that these are evil people making things up.”
Travolta has had a long and successful career, but as for what comes next for him, we don’t know. To celebrate over 25 years of marriage takes hard work, dedication, and a genuine loving bond! He's had great success focusing on both his career and his family!