John Travolta

John Joseph Travolta (born February 18, 1954) is an American actor, dancer and singer. He 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 career re-surged 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 has twice been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. The first, for his role in Saturday Night Fever and the second for Pulp Fiction. He won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his performance in Get Shorty.

Early life

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, was a semi-professional football player turned tire salesman and partner in a tire company. His mother, Helen Cecilia (n?Še Burke), who was 42 when Travolta was born, 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 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. His family was Roman Catholic.

Early career

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 played a messenger on the CBS soap opera The Edge of Night. He also appeared on another CBS serial The Secret Storm. 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).

'70s stardom

Travolta in one of his earliest roles, in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976)

Around this time, Travolta had a hit single entitled "Let Her In" peaking at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In the next few years, he appeared in some of his most memorable screen roles: Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever (1977) and as Danny Zuko in Grease (1978). These two 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 though he lost to Richard Dreyfuss in The Goodbye Girl. 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, which eventually went on to sell more than 10 million copies. 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.


Travolta in 1983

After Urban Cowboy came a string of flops that sidelined his acting career. Staying Alive, the sequel to Saturday Night Fever, Perfect, co-starring Jamie Lee Curtis, and Two of a Kind, a romantic comedy reteaming him with Olivia Newton-John, were all commercial disasters severely beaten up by critics. Some suggest that he was typecast as a disco stud or 1970s icon, which could be the reason his agent intervened on several occasions to turn down acting roles. During that time he was offered, but turned down, lead roles in what would become box office hits, including American Gigolo, Flashdance, An Officer and a Gentleman, Splash and Fatal Attraction. Disenchanted, Travolta pursued flying and eventually earned his license to command aircraft. His only hit film was Look Who's Talking with Kirstie Alley and a baby voiced by Bruce Willis.


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 was revived. The movie shifted him back onto the A-list, and he was inundated with offers. Coincidentally, before Travolta took the role he visited Tarantino, who was living in the same ramshackle apartment in Los Angeles that Travolta had inhabited when he got his start. 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. The film won a Razzie Award for Worst Film of the Year at the 2000 awards. Travolta, who became a Scientologist in 1975 and endorses Hubbard's teachings, had hoped that the film would be well received and be the first in a series of Hubbard film adaptations. In 2004, Travolta played Deputy Chief Mike Kennedy in the Ladder 49. This film was notable for being the first post-9/11 film that focused on the life of a crew of firefighters. Travolta starred as a once successful businessman gone broke and divorced who takes to the road on a motorcycle road-trip with his friends in 2007's Wild Hogs. Travolta played Mrs. Edna Turnblad in the remake of Hairspray, his first musical since Grease.

He was the lead voice role of the Disney film Bolt (2008), where he played a lost canine actor trying to get home and also sang "I Thought I Lost You,' the duet for the ending credits of the film with co-star Miley Cyrus. In 2009, he appeared in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, in Old Dogs, a live-action comedy, co-starring with Robin Williams and Bernie Mac and From Paris with Love.

Personal life

Travolta married actress Kelly Preston in 1991. The couple had two children: Jett, born on April 13, 1992, and Ella Bleu, born on April 3, 2000. Their son, Jett died on January 2, 2009 while the family was on holiday 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 in early childhood.

Long a source of speculation, in September 2009, Travolta testified that his son had autism and suffered regular seizures, as part of his testimony in a trial which resulted after an extortion attempt following Jett Travolta's death.

The couple has regularly attended marriage counselling, and Travolta admits that therapy has helped the marriage.

Travolta was previously involved with actress Diana Hyland, whom he met while filming The Boy in the Plastic Bubble; Hyland died of breast cancer in 1977.

Travolta is a certified pilot and owns five aircraft, including an ex-Australian 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.

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.

Extortion plot

On January 23, 2009, three people were arrested in the Bahamas in connection with a multi-million dollar extortion plot against the Travolta family around the circumstances of Jett's death. It is believed that the plot centered around a "refusal to transport" document allegedly signed by Travolta when paramedics arrived to treat Jett, that a police spokesman noted did not apply in the Travolta case. One of the men, Obie Wilchcombe, a member of the Bahamian Parliament and former Bahamian Minister of Tourism, was described as a "close friend" of the Travolta family. The other two people allegedly involved are EMT Tarino Lightbourne and former senator Pleasant Bridgewater, who was charged with abetment to extort and conspiracy to extort. She resigned from the Senate as a result of the allegations.


The Tenth Level
The Devil's Rain
The Boy in the Plastic Bubble
Tod Lubitch

Nominated ??? TV Land Award
Billy Nolan
Saturday Night Fever
Tony Manero
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor

Nominated ??? Academy Award for Best Actor

Nominated ??? Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Moment by Moment
Strip Harrison
Daniel "Danny" Zuko
Henrietta Award - World Film Favorite Actor

Nominated ??? Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Urban Cowboy
Buford 'Bud' Uan Davis
Blow Out
Jack Terry
Staying Alive
Tony Manero
Two of a Kind
Zack Melon
Adam Lawrence
TV segment "The Dumb Waiter"
Look Who's Talking
James Ubriacco
The Experts
Look Who's Talking Too
James Ubriacco
Jack Cabe
Eyes Of An Angel
aka The Tender
Chains of Gold
Scott Barnes
TV-Movie; also writer
Boris and Natasha: The Movie
Look Who's Talking Now
James Ubriacco
Pulp Fiction
Vincent Vega
Nominated ??? Academy Award for Best Actor

Nominated ??? BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role

Nominated ??? Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama

Nominated ??? Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Get Shorty
Chili Palmer
American Comedy Award

Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

Nominated ??? Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
White Man's Burden
Louis Pinnock
George Malley
Orientation: A Scientology Information Film
(short subject)
Broken Arrow
Maj. Vic 'Deak' Deakins
Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's
Mad City
Sam Baily
Sean Archer/Castor Troy
Nomination ??? Saturn Award for Best Actor
She's So Lovely
Joey Giamonti
also executive producer
A Civil Action
Jan Schlichtmann
The Thin Red Line
Brigadier General Quintard
Satellite Special Achievement Award for Outstanding Motion Picture Ensemble
Junket Whore
Primary Colors
Governor Jack Stanton
Nomination ??? Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
The General's Daughter
Warr. Off. Paul Brenner/Sgt. Frank White
Our Friend, Martin
Kyle's dad
(animated educational film, voice only)
Welcome to Hollywood
(mockumentary; cameo)
Lucky Numbers
Russ Richards
Battlefield Earth
also producer
Domestic Disturbance
Frank Morrison
Gabriel Shear
Austin Powers in Goldmember
"Austinpussy" Johann van der Smut / Goldmember
Tom Hardy
Ladder 49
Captain Mike Kennedy
A Love Song for Bobby Long
Bobby Long
The Punisher
Howard Saint
Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D
James Benson "Jim" Irwin
(narrator; documentary)
Be Cool
Chili Palmer
Lonely Hearts
Elmer C. Robinson
Wild Hogs
Woody Stevens
Edna Turnblad
Nominated ??? Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture

Nominated ??? Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Bolt the Dog

Nominated ??? Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
Benard Ryder
Old Dogs
Simon Greer
awaiting release
From Paris with Love
Charlie Wax

Television series

His handprints in front of The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park
Episode: "Kids"
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law
Episode: "A Piece of God"
The Rookies
Eddie Halley
Episode: " Frozen Smoke"
Medical Center
Episode: "Saturday's Child"
Welcome Back, Kotter
Vincent "Vinnie" Barbarino

This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article John Travolta; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.

Original Wikipedia article: Travolta