Behind his Greased Lightning and his Saturday Night Fever, Hollywood star John Travolta has to deal with the stress and torture of being a son, husband and father in the public eye. Despite having faced numerous rumors for a while now, John has chosen to keep quiet about it for the most part. Let’s be honest, nobody likes to have their lives constantly under scrutiny and completely exposed. But he has finally decided to open up some of his secrets, whilst also addressing many of the rumors we have been wondering about.
1. Why Kelly Preston Wants A Divorce
You might have been hearing the rumors for years now about all of the secrets in one of Hollywood’s most famous couples, John Travolta and Kelly Preston. They have three children together, one who unfortunately passed away tragically. Like any other famous couple, they have had to endure their personal life in the limelight of the public. Recently it has come out that Kelly has had enough with the scandals of her husband, and she wants a divorce.
2. Understanding Why
It's necessary to understand a little about John’s life before being filled with many scandals, to know what made him the man he is today. John was born in 1954, in Englewood, NJ to Italian-American and Irish-American parents. He was raised Catholic, but in 1975, John's life took an unexpected twist when he was introduced to Scientology - another scandal that would entangle John.
3. Couldn’t Make The Grade
In real life, John was never a good student, which probably helped him to be casted in many roles where he plays a popular student and not a scholar (read: Grease, Welcome Back Kotter, etc.). Very soon in his life, he became more focused on his acting career and was less concerned with school and education. John tried to compensate for his bad grades by charming with all of his teachers; once he said in an interview that he, “tried to communicate with them on a more adult level”.
4. Dropping Out Of High School
Although we all love the charming Danny Zuko, the high school stud in Grease, John Travolta never finished high school in real life. He dropped out when he was only sixteen in order to focus on his acting career. He claims “Not too many of my friends identified with what I was doing, I participated in football and basketball and did what they were doing, but not many kids understood my going to acting studios at night.”
5. Starting His Career
After dropping out of high school at a young age, John Travolta was determined to make something of himself. So, he packed up his bags and crossed the Hudson River to set up shop in New York City. At first, Travolta struggled to land himself professional acting roles and moved around the country trying to find work. Before too long, he was offered a role in the Broadway touring production of Grease. Little did he know this was only the beginning…
6. Boy In The Plastic Bubble
1976, the TV film that put Travolta on the map was The Boy In The Plastic Bubble. John plays a boy, Tod, whose immune system is not developed from birth and is restricted to life in quarantine. In order to experience life outside, he must travel in a giant, plastic bubbles; his character falls in love with his next door neighbor, Gina. The real thrill comes when Tod learns he may have built up enough immunity to live outside the bubble and he dares try for chance with Gina. Diana Hyland plays his mother in the film, but in real life the two fell in love, leading to Travolta’s first scandal.
7. Diana Hyland
When Travolta filmed the movie “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble” he met Diana Hyland who was playing his mother. The actress was eighteen years older than him, but this didn’t stop them from falling in love. Unfortunately, this relationship didn’t end well and was only the first of many scandals and controversies that Travolta would be apart of. Highland passed away in John’s arms when she was only 41, due to breast cancer. The amazing movie they filmed together earned Hyland an Emmy award and Travolta accepted the award on her behalf.
8. Behind The Scenes
Just four days after finishing filming with Saturday Night Fever, Travolta began filming for Grease, the highest earning movie of 1978. The time period was especially stressful for Travolta as he was very busy and had just lost his girlfriend, Diana Hyland. The stress was so distracting that the actor kept lip-syncing “heap lap trials” instead of “heat lap trials.” According to the director, Randal Kleiser, Travolta struggled with the scene after he read an article about Hyland’s death.
9. Welcome Back, Kotter
After touring with the cast of Grease, John Travolta had got a taste for the high life – and he wanted more of it. Luckily, Travolta was soon cast by ABC to play Vinnie Barbarino in their popular sitcom, ‘Welcome Back, Kotter.’ Travolta played the infamous bad boy for four years, and soon won the hearts of young girls and women across America and the rest of the world. Since his time on the show, Travolta has noted the similarities between himself and Vinnie.
10. A Family Affair
John Travolta’s love for acting did not come from nowhere. In fact, it was his family that got the acting bug raging inside of him. This was because of his mother, Helen, was a professional actress. Throughout his early life, he had watched his mother take on acting and dancing roles and had been inspired to attend a drama school in New York. Amazingly, Helen Travolta has appeared alongside her son in both Grease and Saturday Night Fever.
11. Travolta Senior
We know that Helen Travolta was also an actress, like John. But the story of John’s father is more heartbreaking. Salvatore Travolta was a second-generation Italian-American citizen who had a love for football. After a semi-professional career, Salvatore retired and opened the family tire shop in New Jersey. But in 1995, Salvatore passed away, leaving his wife and children broken from their loss.
12. John and Olivia
One of John Travolta’s most impressive performances came in Grease (1978), where he starred alongside the legendary Olivia Newton-John. However, it seems their on-screen chemistry wasn’t the result of their acting talent. Years after the movie debuted onto our screens, both John and Olivia confirmed that they had crushes on each other during filming. Although nothing ever came of it, the pair are still good friends and talk every few weeks to catch up on their lives.
13. Howdy, John
Although many remember the 70s and 80s for Grease and Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta also turned his talents to another musical movie. Of course, we’re talking about Urban Cowboy (1980). This movie followed the lives of the cowboy Bud Davis and cowgirl Sissy (Debra Winger) as they go about their lives in the Pasadena, Texas, and we watch as their love blossoms. This film as a huge hit and many even believe this movie started the country music revolution in America. Yee-haw!
14. A Member Of Scientology
Like many Hollywood actors, John Travolta is hugely connected to religion – but his allegiance to the Church of Scientology has proved immensely controversial in the past. It’s noted that Travolta found Scientology in the mid-70s, while he was filming The Devil’s Rain (1975). While on set, Travolta had been given him the notorious ‘Dianetics’ book by one of his female co-stars, and she later helped convert him into a true member of the Church of Scientology.
15. The Downward Spiral
It’s no secret that John Travolta was an icon of 1970s Hollywood. However, this all changed as the decade came to a close, as his career took a downward spiral in the ‘80s. After his appearance in Urban Cowboy (1980), John Travolta seemed to vanish off the face of the earth. Although he was offered leading roles in the likes of ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ and ‘American Gigolo,’ the Hollywood hunk turned them down. Nevertheless, he came back in 1994 with a bang…
16. A Dance With A Princess
John Travolta has graced the dance floor in epic musical movies such as Saturday Night Fever and Grease, but it seems his crowning glory came in November 1985, when he got to dance with a Princess. While attending former President Reagan’s White House Gala, John Travolta was informed by Nancy Reagan that Princess Diana had always wanted to dance with the Hollywood superstar. Of course, John could not say no to the Peoples’ Princess.
17. Meeting Kelly
Four years after his dance with Diana, John Travolta could be found on the set of his upcoming movie, ‘The Experts.’ It was on this movie set that he met his wife, Kelly Preston, for the first time. After three years of dating, the loved-up couple decided to tie the knot in a romantic Scientologist ceremony in Paris. Unfortunately, their vows weren’t binding in the United States, so the newlyweds had to have a second ceremony two weeks later in Florida.
18. A Singing Sensation
Much of John Travolta’s career has been full of acting and dancing roles, but many forget that he is a hugely talented singer. Unlike his Grease co-star, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta has not made a hugely successful career as a singer – but he did release his own single. When he was just 22-years-old, Travolta released ‘Let Her In.’ This heartwarming love song soon won over the American public, and reached the number 10 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100.
19. Saturday Night Fever
During his heyday in the ‘70s, John Travolta proved his worth as Danny Zuko in Grease, but he also wowed fans with his character in Saturday Night Fever (1977). Through his character of Tony Manero, Travolta used the Bee-Gees as his muse to dance the night away under a glistening glitter ball. However, this didn’t come naturally to Travolta as he needed nine months of dance lessons to get him up to scratch. Yet, the hard work eventually paid off.
20. Travolta and Tarantino
After an acting lull in the 1980s, the world was waiting for John Travolta’s epic comeback – and this came in the form of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994). Starring alongside the likes of Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, and Samuel L. Jackson, this role was what he needed to get himself back in the limelight. Known as one of the most popular and most successful films ever made, Tarantino gave Travolta the opportunity to step away from musicals and test his true acting talent.
21. Taking To The Skies
However, it seems that there is so much more to John Travolta than his skills on screen. When he was just 22-years-old, the actor earned his pilot’s license and has continued to fly the skies ever since. Over the years, Travolta has trained even further to earn specific qualifications. Because of this, he can now fly more than 11 types of plane – including a whopping Boeing 707! The actor often takes his family and friends for trips whenever he has a free moment.
22. A Mega-Mansion
Although John Travolta loved to spend his time at the airfield, he wanted to make his life a little easier. So, he bought a house on the Jumbolair Aviation Estates to ensure that he could fly whenever he pleased. This gated community offers owners the chance to live and fly when they wish, as the houses double up as runways and garages. Travolta’s incredible mansion includes a pool, acres of land, as well as two private taxiways to make use of his planes.
23. You can’t stop the beat
In 2007, John Travolta proved that he just couldn’t stop the beat when he appeared in the titular motion picture, Hairspray. Although producers were convinced that Travolta would be the best choice as Edna Turnblad, the Hollywood actor waited an incredible 14 months before finally agreeing to the role. After all, he was used to dancing and singing in front of the cameras, but not in a 40-pound fat suit, hours of makeup, a dress, and heels.
24. Helping Haiti
Alongside his acting talent, John Travolta has proven that he is a force to be reckoned with in the world of Hollywood. Over the years, he has selflessly helped those less fortunate out of the goodness of his heart. In 2010, Travolta was horrified to see and hear of the destruction caused by an earthquake in Haiti. Almost immediately, he filled his Boeing 707 with food, supplies, and doctors to help those in need, and flew his plane across the oceans.
25. A Horrific Loss
Unfortunately, death and destruction also hit closer to home in 2009. While on vacation with his family, Travolta witnessed the death of his eldest son, Jett. At just 16-years-old, Jett suffered from autism and Kawasaki disease, which resulted in powerful seizures. While in the bathroom, Jett suffered one of these tragic seizures and hit his head. Sadly, Jett passed away and left the Travolta family in limbo. In John’s words, it was the ‘worst thing’ to happen in his life.
26. Addressing The Rumors
However, John Travolta’s life hasn’t always been easy and breezy. Over the course of his career, Travolta has been involved in numerous lawsuits and scandals – including sexual assault and homosexual claims. These claims have had a hugely negative effect on his wife and his children and impacted his health and wellbeing. Although he has felt the ‘“lowest I’d ever felt,” he also knows that he can’t control what the media say, whether the news is true or false.
One of the things which helped John get over his sons untimely and tragic death was his faith. While many celebrities are religious, perhaps going to church or synagogue, Travolta has a slightly more unusual relationship with religion. He has been a practicing Scientologist since 1975. He was given a book called Dianetics, when he was filming a movie in Mexico called The Devils Rain, and he has never looked back since then.
28. Travolta and Tom Cruise
John is probably one of the most famous people in the world to practice Scientology, along with fellow Hollywood celebrity, Tom Cruise. Travolta has nothing negative to say about it at all, telling the media, “I’ve been brought through storms that were insurmountable, and [Scientology has] been so beautiful for me, that I can’t even imagine attacking it.” He said this in response to an expose about the faith which tried to paint it in a bad light.
29. Peer Pressure
Some people have taken issue with the idea that John Travolta has tried to persuade other people to join Scientology, trying to convert other celebrities, so to speak. It’s true that he has shared teachings, and lent books to other people he knows, but nothing seems sinister. In fact, it’s more like leading by example. “Seeing what an extraordinary guy [Travolta] was, just such a nice person, such a kind human being, did make me think, but it was probably my first impulse of curiosity concerning Scientology,” says Eddie Deezen.
30. The Truth In The Documentary
It could be that Travolta is frightened to speak out against the documentary, and this idea is more than just a conspiracy theory without any basis in fact. Marty Rathbun used to be a Scientology exec, and he speaks out in the HBO documentary Going Clear, calling Travolta “Scientology’s captive” because of everything they know about him. “One Scientologist told me that he was delegated to create a “black PR” package—all the damaging material that they could use against Travolta, which came from his auditing sessions.”
31. Gay Rumors
For many people, the ‘truth’ that the Church of Scientology might know about Travolta focuses on the gay rumors which have been circling him for many years. Despite him marrying and having three children, and being seemingly happy with Kelly Preston for close to 30 years, the rumors have never quite subsided. But what truth is there, if any, to these claims that Travolta is hiding his sexuality from the world?
32. John and Kelly
Obviously, the biggest stumbling block for those who believe that Travolta is actually secretly gay, is the fact that he has been married since 1991 to his gorgeous wife, Kelly. But those who spread the rumors say that the marriage is a sham, and it was set up by the Church of Scientology as an arranged marriage to keep his secret hidden. If that’s the case, there has hardly been a chink in the Travolta’s armor all these years.
33. Man on Man
There have also been a few times that Travolta has been snapped getting a little more up close and personal with other men than we usually see in Hollywood. Of course, the biggest scandal was the hidden photo taken of Travolta with an unnamed friend when about to take off on his private jet. But also, instances like this one with Kirk Douglas! Travolta says he kisses all his male and female friends. Hmm, ok then!
34. The Rumors Won’t Stop
The attacks don’t stop there though. There have also been a few claims that Travolta has committed crimes against men, including sexual assault and battery. Some lawsuits have been filed and then dropped, and in 2012, two men came forward citing emotional distress and sexual battery, asking for a $2 million settlement. The case was settled without any blame on Travolta’s part. He said in 2014, “This is every celebrity’s Achilles heel. It’s just about people wanting money. That’s all. It happens on many levels.”
35. Douglas Gotterba
One more straw to add to stoke the fire that is Travolta’s confusing sexuality, is his ex pilot, Douglas Gotterba. He claimed that he and Travolta had a sexual relationship back in the 80’s, when the pilot worked for the movie star. Travolta denied everything, but you can see why these pesky rumors won’t go away, when there are so many directions that the claims are coming from. Doug claims that their affair lasted for six years.
36. Staying out of it
Travolta says that he doesn’t care what the rumors are around his sexuality, and he has always tried to just stay out of it and not pay attention. He thinks that’s why the rumors persist. The only thing he struggled with, is the media attention around the loss of Jett. “’I found it most offensive with the loss of my son. I felt like that was the lowest I’d ever felt. Sex stuff is always going to be interesting to somebody, but you stay away from family. You really should.”
37. Out of the spotlight
Despite acting in some amazing movies, John Travolta kind of fell out of the spotlight for some time in the early 2000’s. One of his biggest failures was the movie he starred in and co-produced, Battlefield Earth. It did terribly in the box office, and also got nearly totally negative reviews. The make up artists did really well though! But while Travolta might have thought his career was falling apart, there was a bright future ahead.
38. The People Versus…
In 2016, Travolta was broadcast back onto the small screen for the Anthology Series, American Crime Story. The season was called The People v.s OJ Simpson, and Travolta played Robert Shapiro. As you can probably guess, the show centers around the OJ Simpson murder trial, and is actually based on a book by Toobin, called The Run of his Life. But would the show do well? Or would it be another Hollywood fail for Travolta?
39. Critical Reviews
While the show itself was very popular, winning dozens of awards, Travolta’s performance was given mixed reviews. Unfortunately, the worst of the critics were cruel, indeed. The Hollywood Reporter said he gave “a mesmerizingly bad performance from the eyebrows down.” As well as commenting that “His unnecessary accent varies by episode, and Travolta’s laser intensity feels arch and almost kabuki at times, turning Shapiro into a terrifying character from the next American Horror Story installment, rather than a part of this ensemble.” Ouch!
40. But on the other hand…
But it wasn’t all bad. While some critics didn’t like his performance, others loved it! Maureen Ryan from Vanity Fair said: “I started in the realm of puzzled disbelief, arrived at amusement, and ultimately travelled to a place of sincere appreciation. You simply can’t take your eyes off Travolta, and that is a form of enchantment.” Rolling Stone called it “arguably [Travolta’s] best performance.” It looks like he split the crowd!
41. Back in the Spotlight
Whatever you thought of his role in the show, there’s no doubt that it’s put Travolta back in the spotlight. In 2018, he has two movies coming out, Gotti and Trading Paint. We can only hope that the rumors about his personal life are just that, nothing more than rumors and thatr he and Kelly can work things out! He’s clearly been through enough hardship in his life, and deserves to be happy and fulfilled in his career and at home.
42. A model figure
Over the course of his career, John Travolta has proved that he is a force to be reckoned with. Because of his talent, fame, and fortune, big brands and companies have been waiting in line to work with him for many years. Yet, he took the world by storm in 1978 when he became the first ever man to adorn the front cover of the hugely popular magazine, McCalls. His appearance sparked a newfound trend, whereby men were chosen over women.
43. Turning down offers
Although John Travolta was intent on becoming the next big name in the world of Hollywood, he would often listen to the advice of his agent – rather than listening to his gut. He did exactly that when he read for the leading role in Splash in 1984. He thoroughly impressed the producers and was offered the part, before his agent told him to turn the offer down. The role eventually went to Tom Hanks, and the movie became a huge blockbuster.
44. Celebrity Ties
Although John Travolta’s son Jett sadly passed away in his teens, John still has loving memories of their time together. In fact, he often recounts the celebrity ties that links his son Jett to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. According to reports, Jett was conceived while he and Kelly Preston took a little time away and went to visit a few friends of theirs. Who were these friends, you ask? Well, Jett was conceived in the house of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore!
45. Moonlighting As An Author
Let’s be honest, John Travolta is a jack of all trades, and it seems there really is nothing he can’t do. Yep, he can sing, he can dance, he can act – and apparently, he can also write books. Over the course of his career, John has proved that he is more than capable of writing his own books… because he’s written a few! Some of his books titles include, ‘Propeller One-Way Night Coach, A Fable For All Ages’ and ‘John Travolta Staying Fit!’
46. John and Oprah
Considering he’s one of the most popular men in Hollywood, it should come as no surprise that John Travolta is cohorting with some of the biggest names in the world. So, who are his celebrity friends? Well, it seems John is especially close to the legendary talk-show host, Oprah Winfrey. Oprah has confessed that John is her favorite movie star of all time, and has even helped some of her guests get up close and personal with the actor throughout the course of her show.
47. Favorite movies
John Travolta is largely remembered for his roles in the likes of Grease, Pulp Fiction, and Saturday Night Fever – but have you ever wondered what this movie star’s favorite movies are? Apparently, he has two of them. When he was a child, John would love nothing more than putting on his favorite movie: Yankee Doodle Dandy. Yet, as he’s grown older, his movie tastes have evolved. His favorite movie is now the 1966 classic, A Man and a Woman.
48. John and Idina
Are you really a celebrity if you haven’t had AT LEAST one public blunder in your lifetime? It seems as though John Travolta is not immune from this curse – as he has had his fair share of mistakes broadcast to the world. One of his most famous mistakes came in 2014 when John announced the actress and singer, Idina Menzel, onto the stage. Embarrassingly, he called her ‘Adele Dazeem’ which prompted a huge amount of ridicule and sarcasm on social media…
49. Another Oscar Oops
After the Idina Menzel embarrassing moment, John Travolta had another Oscars mishap. While Scarlett Johansson was taking pictures on the red carpet, John Travolta surprised her with a kiss resulting in very awkward looking photos. Even though the internet criticized John, Johansson was quick to defend. The actress told AP, “The image that is circulating is an unfortunate still-frame from a live-action encounter that was very sweet and totally welcome. That still photo does not reflect what preceded and followed if you see the moment live.”
50. Net worth
Considering he’s one of the most famous men in Hollywood, it’s no surprise that John Travolta is also one of the richest men in Hollywood. With a huge and lengthy career to his name, various business projects and a whole host of property and planes to his name, it’s believed that John Travolta is now worth a whopping $170 million. Well, that’ll do, won’t it? We can’t imagine he’ll be scrabbling around for pennies in the next few years…
51. Go Greased Lightning
Although Saturday Night Fever is hugely iconic, John Travolta is largely remembered for his role as the Rydell High bad boy, Danny Zuko. Adapted from the hit Broadway musical, this 1978 movie grossed around $400 million across the world and is known as the fourth highest-grossing live-action musical of all time. As he transitioned from the dastardly T-bird into the letter-sweater-wearing jock, even more people fell in love with the Hollywood hunk, and this movie skyrocketed his fame.
After he filmed Hairspray, Travolta’s career had been all over the place. From musicals and stage work, to thrillers, action movies and even fantasy, no one knew what Travolta would do next. But no one imagined it would be animation! That’s right, he gave his voice to the hit movie, Bolt, playing the title character. He even sang alongside Miley Cyrus, proving he was still relevant and in demand to do a great job in Hollywood.
53. Dancing Confession
In 1977, John Travolta captured the audience with his incredible dance moves in Saturday Night Fever. However, becoming a killer dancer did not happen over night. Travolta trained intensively for nine months. Growing up, John loved to dance and modeled his dancing for the film after Soul Train. In an interview with Vanity Fair, he said, “I liked black dancing better than white dancing. I used to watch Soul Train, and what I wanted to create was a Soul Train feel in Saturday Night Fever.”
54. Rejected Role Of A Lifetime
In 1984, Travolta read for the male lead role in the popular film, Splash. Unfortunately, Travolta’s agent discouraged him from taking on the role which ultimately went to Tom Hanks. It is easy to see a resemblance between the two actors. Interestingly, Travolta was not the only major actor to turn down the role. Actors Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Dudley Moore, and Michael Keaton all turned down the part of Allen Bauer too. The 1984 film became a huge hit in the box office.
55. Qantas Ambassador
John Travolta became the “Ambassador-at-Large” for Qantas Airways, the airline of Australia in 2001 after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The actor wanted to encourage people to travel and fly after 9/11. Travolta was fascinated by aviation at a young age and impressed by “Qantas’ safety record and the fact that it flew the longest routes in the world,” according to Qantas website. Eventually, John even purchased one of their planes, the ex-Qantas Boeing 707, after extensive training with the airline company.
56. Kirstie Alley and Travolta
It’s no surprise that John Travolta and Kirstie Alley are best friends, considering they both love Scientology. They got to know each other when they both starred in Look Who’s Talking and have remained close since. Before they were besties, Alley had romantic feelings for Travolta that she could not act on because she was married to Parker Stevenson the time. In an interview with Howard Stern, Kristie revealed, “It took me years to not look at John as a romantic interest.”
57. Facial Hair
It’s no secret that John Travolta is high maintenance with his hair. From dying it different colors to adding in weaves, Travolta cares about how his hair looks. When it comes to facial hair, the actor is not afraid to experiment with different and interesting styles on his face. He loves to rock interesting facial hair. To be fair, we have to give him the benefit of the doubt, because many of his facial hair choices were chosen for acting roles.
58. Weight Gain
In 1998, when John Travolta signed on to act as the lead in the film Primary Colors, a movie about former President Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992, the actor was encouraged to gain thirty pounds to play the character, Jack Stanton. The heftier version of Travolta was a stark contrast to the thin and fit body type he displayed in Grease. In order to put on weight for the role, John ate plenty of cheeseburgers. Travolta admitted, “it’s been fun gaining it.”
59. Alleged Misconduct
Jeff Conaway, a former co-star of Travolta’s in Grease, made headlines in 2012. Conaway, who played Kenickie, has an ex-fiancée called Vikki Lizzi. She claimed to the National Enquirer that Travolta made unwanted advances on Conaway during the 1990s. Apparently, according to Lizzi, this incident ended their friendship. Travolta’s lawyer denied the claims, saying it was, “a malicious tabloid agenda to boost lagging sales by running outrageous defamatory stories about my client sourced by people seeking notoriety or a payday.”
60. Moving Forward
But what would be next for Travolta? In the new Netflix world, where TV reigns supreme, was this where Travolta was going to end up? Was the days of big flashy movies like Pulp Fiction and Saturday Night Fever behind him? In 2016, he was given an exciting opportunity to be back on our screens, and the producers held their breath that he would agree, helping sell their new idea to the execs and the powers that be.