Born as the youngest among his six siblings, John Joseph Travolta is an American actor, singer, and dancer who made it big in Hollywood with a fair share of highs and lows. Born on February 18, 1954, the 66-year-old star rose to fame by starring in a television sitcom ”Welcome back, Kotter’Kotter, ‘ which opened Hollywood’s doors for him. And he then starred in many blockbusters like Carrie (1976), Saturday Night Fever (1977), and Grease (1978).
Through his perseverant attitude and witty humor, he has managed to garner a good rapport among all his contemporaries and successors, meanwhile establishing a comfortable net worth of around $250 million US dollars.
John was the youngest child a Salvatore ”Sam” Travolta and Helen Cecilia. The former was a semiprofessional footballer turned businessman, owner of ”Travolta Tyre Exchange”, while the latter was a theatre actress and singer turned High school drama and English Teacher. He grew up in Englewood, New Jersey, in an Irish American neighborhood, and was raised as a Roman Catholic.
Like every cliché millionaire story, Travolta also dropped out of his high school in New Jersey to follow the path his heart yearns for¾ to Hollywood. Seventeen-year-old Travolta was though short in height and age, was high on passion. And it was his thrive to animate the dreams that made him achieve so much so early at the beginning of his journey. He took a detour to New York and then California to land his breakthrough role of Vinnie Barbarino in ABC’sABC’s television sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-79).
Since Welcome Back, Kotter, life changed for Travolta, and he bagged two astounding leading movie roles: Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Danny Zuko in Grease (1978). Both these movies were the biggest successes of their decade. The former yielding Travolta an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, making him the youngest actor ever to achieve such recognition at the age of 24.
Amidst all these successes, the Travolta singing game was also at its peak as he performed significant songs of his movie album Grease. He was the singer revolutionizing the country music trend in the 1980s by contributing to his hit film Urban Cowboy.
The 1980s And The Slump
Sadly, the Hollywood bug bit Travolta quite soon, and after Urban Cowboy, almost all the movies he starred in were a critical and commercial failure; these include Two of a Kind (1983) and Perfect (1985). Luckily, keeping his acting afloat, Staying Alive, the 1983 sequel to Saturday Night Fever, performed reasonably well at the box office but was scorned by critics.
The setback was so severe that two big-budget movies that he signed were swerved to Richard Gere; these include American Gigolo] and An Officer and a Gentleman. Both of them was a box office success pitching Richard Gere’s career in Hollywood.
1990s Epic Comeback
From 1989, he made a glorious return by starring in an immaculate commercial and critical success, Look Who’sWho’s Talking, which grossed over $297 million, making it his second-highest-grossing after Grease. His success didn’t limit then. The series was renewed as a franchise for its following sequels, Look Who’sWho’s Talking Too (1990) and Look Who’s Talking Now (1993).
Though starring after back to back commercial successes, it wasn’t till he starred in Quentin Tarantino’sTarantino’s hit Pulp Fiction (1994) that his feet in Hollywood were unabatedly cemented. And he regained his A-list star status and also received an Academy Award nomination for it.
He then signed some pretty hefty projects that further strengthened his position and status in Hollywood, which were Get Shorty (1995), Broken Arrow (1996), and Face/Off (1997). He also received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for his performance in getting Shorty, receiving a total of six nominations together.
2000s And Maintaining The Stride
in 2000, Travolta embarked on his journey as a producer, and both starred and co-produced his dream project, the science fiction movie Battlefield Earth, based on the novel of the same name by L. Ron Hubbard. Though the film was a flop, it got Travolta two Razzie Awards.
He then maintained his success stride by starring in back to back hits during the early 2000s, which were:
- Swordfish (2001)
- Ladder 49 (2004)
- Be Cool (2005)
- Lonely Hearts (2006)
- Wild Hogs (2007)
- Bolt (2008)
- The Taking of Pelham 123; and Old Dogs (both 2009)
In 2016, he made a comeback to TV and starred in the acclaimed first season of the anthology series American Crime Story, titled The People v. O. J. Simpson. He played lawyer Robert Shapiro.
Before marrying Kelly Preston in 1991, Travolta dated three actresses naming Diana Hyland, Catherine Deneuve, and Marilu Henner. Together, they have three beautiful children; Jett, Ella Bleu, and Benjamin. They resided in Ocala, Florida, where on July 12, 2020, his wife, Kelly Preston, at the age of 57, died after fighting breast cancer for two years.
After his wife’s death, Travolta has announced on Instagram that he is taking a sabbatical from acting to be a responsible father who has to be by his children in these troubled times.
His Talents as a pilot
Travolta, an avid private pilot, owns four aircraft on his name, excluding the one he donated to Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) near Wollongong, Australia. In Ocala, Florida, his house has its runway and taxiway, with two outbuildings for covered access to planes. All these facilities are attributed to its strategic location near Jumbolair Airport.