John Travolta

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John Travolta

John Travolta in Sweden, 1983
Birth name John Joseph Travolta
Born February 18, 1954 (age 53)
Flag of United States Englewood, New Jersey, USA
Spouse(s) Kelly Preston (12 September 1991 - present) 2 children
Official site
Notable roles Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever
Danny Zuko in Grease
Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction
Vinnie Barbarino in Welcome Back, Kotter

John Joseph Travolta (born February 18, 1954) is an Academy Award-nominated American actor, singer, scientologist, entertainer and aviator. He became known during the late 1970s, establishing a career as a leading Hollywood actor, and has subsequently continued appearing in major films, including his 1990s roles in Pulp Fiction and Get Shorty.


[edit] Biography

[edit] Early life

Travolta, the youngest of six children, was born in Englewood, New Jersey to Salvatore Travolta, a second-generation Italian American semi-professional football player turned tire salesman, and Helen Cecilia Burke, an Irish American[1] actress and singer who had appeared in The Sunshine Sisters, a radio vocal group, and acted and directed before becoming a high school drama teacher. She was 42 when Travolta was born. Travolta grew up in an Irish-American neighborhood[2] and has said that his household was predominantly Irish in culture. He is also Italian. His mother is Irish and his father is Italian. [3] His family was Catholic.[4]

[edit] Career

After dropping out of Dwight Morrow High School after his junior year, Travolta moved to New York City to get a job as a performer. He landed roles in the touring company of Grease (musical) and on Broadway in Over Here! singing the Sherman Brothers' song "Dream Drummin'.'" Travolta also cut singles for a local record company, but the songs were quickly forgotten. But eventually, he moved to Los Angeles, California to further his career in show business.

Travolta gained his first major movie role as Billy Nolan, a sadistic bully who taunted Sissy Spacek's Carrie White 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).

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

Around this time he also 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). 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, that 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.

After Urban Cowboy came a string of flops that sidelined his acting career. 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, An Officer and A Gentleman, and Splash. The first two films ultimately starred Richard Gere in the lead role and went to become box office successes. This was also the case with the movie Chicago - the role of lawyer Billy Flynn was offered to Travolta, but ultimately was played by Gere; the film went on to become a highly commercial and critical success. His only hit film during this period was alongside Kirstie Alley and a baby voiced by Bruce Willis in Look Who's Talking. However, it wasn't 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 in Face/Off (1997), a desperate attorney in A Civil Action (1998) and a military detective in The General's Daughter (1999).

Travolta signing copies of Battlefield Earth, 2000
Travolta signing copies of Battlefield Earth, 2000

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.[5] Travolta, who converted to Scientology 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 fact, the film won a Razzie Award for Worst Film of the Year at the 2000 awards.

Travola is currently starring as a workaholic turned biker in Wild Hogs 2007.

Travolta will play Edna Turnblad in the 2007 adaptation of Hairspray.

[edit] Personal life

Travolta married actress Kelly Preston in 1991. They have a son named Jett, and a daughter named Ella Bleu. On April 10, 2006, Mark Ebner of Hollywood, Interrupted made a public plea to Travolta and Preston to have their son treated for autism, alleging five reliable sources—including representatives from Cure Autism Now and The Autism Perspective—who claim that Jett suffers from autism, and not from Kawasaki syndrome as stated by the parents.[6][7][8] His brother Joey Travolta recently produced a documentary about autism.

Travolta dancing with Diana, Princess of Wales at a White House dinner on 9 November 1985.
Travolta dancing with Diana, Princess of Wales at a White House dinner on 9 November 1985.

Travolta is a licensed pilot and owns five airplanes, including an ex-Australian airliner, the Qantas 707-138. The plane bears the name Jett Clipper Ella in honor of his son Jett and his daughter Ella. Pan Am was a large operator of the 707 and used Clipper in their names. The 707 aircraft bears the marks of Qantas, as Travolta acts as an official goodwill ambassador for the airline wherever he flies. His US$4.9 million estate in the Jumbolair subdivision in Anthony, Florida is situated on Greystone Airport with its own runway and taxiway right to the door.[9]

In 1992, he wrote and illustrated a short children's book entitled Propeller One-Way Night Coach about the fictional journey of an 8-year-old boy named Jeff across the USA in the 1950s. He celebrated with the Australian national football team in their dressing room following their qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Questions have also been raised regarding what kind of agreements were made between Travolta and then-President Bill Clinton, regarding how Travolta would portray Jack Stanton, a character based on Clinton, in the movie Primary Colors and whether Clinton would pressure the German government to remove its ban on Scientology. Travolta was quoted about the issue in May 1998 issue of George magazine:

The next day, I met with Clinton. He told me: "Your program sounds great. More than that, I'd really love to help you with your issue over in Germany with Scientology." I was waiting for the seduction that I had heard so much about. I thought, "Well, how could he ever seduce me?" And after we talked, I thought, "Bingo!" He did it. Scientology is the one issue that really matters to me.

In another interview, Travolta admitted that his portrayal of Stanton was much more kind than that in the book Primary Colors.[10] The next year, in November 1998, Clinton sent Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to urge German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel to grant Scientology the status of a registered religion—without success.[11]

[edit] Other

The 2006 photo of Travolta kissing a friend.
The 2006 photo of Travolta kissing a friend.

Travolta's affiliation with Scientology is frequently mentioned in the press. In 1998 he was named in a lawsuit involving a former member who claimed that he was promised that his homosexuality could be cured. The lawsuit alleged that the organization frequently cited Travolta as proof that the organization could in fact change a person's sexual orientation. A lawyer for Travolta replied, "This looks like complete hogwash. Travolta is a happily married man, which proves he isn't gay." [12] Paul Barresi claimed to have had a homosexual relationship with Travolta in 1982, but later recanted the statement.[13] In 2006, Travolta was photographed in what looks like the exchange of a kiss with an unidentified male in Hamilton, Ontario. However, Travolta's attorney, Martin Singer, stated that Travolta's wife Preston was on board the plane and claimed the kiss to be a nonromantic gesture Travolta makes with all close friends of both genders, entirely nonsexual in nature, and that "people who are close to Mr. Travolta are aware of his customary, non-romantic gesture."[14]

Travolta was previously involved with actress Diana Hyland, who died of breast cancer (reportedly in Travolta's arms) in 1977.[15]

In March 2007, Travolta told the London Evening Standard that everyone needed to "do their bit" to fight global warming. His statement was criticized by environmentalist John Buckley, who pointed out that Travolta flew his private jets to movie premieres and on a recent two-month trip around the world.

Travolta also suggested that the damage caused by global warming might be irreparable and that people needed to "think about other planets and domed cities."

[edit] Travolta in popular culture

In Garfield, Jon's Aunt Gussie has a crush on John Travolta. As a pilot for Qantas, the official sponsors of the Australian national football team, in November 2005 Travolta offered to personally fly the players to Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup if they qualified. The Socceroos beat Uruguay to qualify and after the victory at Telstra Stadium, Sydney, Travolta celebrated with the Australian players by reciting songs from the film Grease. However just before the Socceroos were due to fly out of Australia Qantas released a statement saying there was never a plan for Travolta to fly the team to Germany.[16]

Faith No More's Mike Patton wrote and recorded a song called "Travolta" with his band Mr. Bungle. The name of the song was changed to "Quote Unquote" due to legal reasons. The song came out 1991, which was a time at which John Travolta was considered a "has-been" actor. This was before Pulp Fiction came out, and Travolta's career took off again. "Quote Unquote" is also the name of a book John Travolta published around this time.

In an episode of South Park, Travolta was one of the characters shown trying to get Tom Cruise out of Stan's closet. The other trying to get him out (Tom Cruise) was R. Kelly, threatening both Tom and John the count of three before he shoots both of them.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Many of John Travolta's roles involve his characters dying:

Spoilers end here.

[edit] Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1975 The Devil's Rain Danny
1976 The Boy in the Plastic Bubble Tod Lubitch
Carrie Billy Nolan
1977 Saturday Night Fever Tony Manero
1978 Moment by Moment Strip Harrison
Grease Danny Zuko
1980 Urban Cowboy Buford 'Bud' Uan Davis
1981 Blow Out Jack Terry
1983 Staying Alive Tony Manero
Two of a Kind Zack
1985 Perfect Adam Lawrence
1989 Look Who's Talking James Ubriacco
The Experts Travis
1990 Look Who's Talking Too James Ubriacco
1991 Shout Jack Cabe
Eyes of an Angel Bobby
1992 Boris and Natasha Himself (cameo)
1993 Look Who's Talking Now James Ubriacco
1994 Pulp Fiction Vincent Vega
1995 Get Shorty Chili Palmer
White Man's Burden Louis Pinnock
1996 Michael Michael
Phenomenon George Malley
Orientation: A Scientology Information Film Himself (short subject)
Broken Arrow Maj. Vic 'Deak' Deakins
1997 Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's Himself (documentary)
Mad City Sam Baily
Face/Off Sean Archer/Castor Troy
She's So Lovely Joey
1998 A Civil Action Jan Schlichtmann
The Thin Red Line Brigadier General Quintard
Junket Whore Himself (documentary)
Primary Colors Governor Jack Stanton
1999 The General's Daughter Warr. Off. Paul Brenner/Sgt. Frank White
2000 Welcome to Hollywood Himself (documentary)
Lucky Numbers Russ Richards
Battlefield Earth Terl
2001 Domestic Disturbance Frank Morrison
Swordfish Gabriel Shear
2002 Austin Powers in Goldmember "Austinpussy" Johann van der Smut
2003 Basic Hardy
2004 Ladder 49 Captain Mike Kennedy
A Love Song for Bobby Long Bobby Long
The Punisher Howard Saint
2005 Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D Himself (narrator; documentary)
Be Cool Chili Palmer
2006 2004: A Light Knight's Odyssey Dave (voice only; currently filming)
Lonely Hearts Elmer C. Robinson
2007 Hairspray Edna Turnblad (currently filming)
Wild Hogs Woody
Dallas J.R. Ewing (pre-production)
2008 American Dog American Dog the Hound Dog (voice only; pre-production)

[edit] Salary

[edit] Television work

  • Basements (1987)
  • Chains of Gold (1991) (also writer)
  • Punk'd (2004) (Uncredited)

[edit] Music career

[edit] Discography

  • Over Here! (Original Cast Album) (1974)
  • John Travolta (1976)
  • Can't Let You Go (1977)
  • Travolta Fever (1978)
  • Grease (movie soundtrack) (1978)
  • The Road to Freedom (Scientology album) (1986)
  • Let Her In: The Best of John Travolta (1996)
  • The Collection (2003)

[edit] Singles

  • "You Set My Dreams To Music" (1969)
  • "Goodnight Mr. Moon" (1969)
  • "Rainbows" (1969)
  • "Settle Down" (1970)
  • "Moonlight Lady" (1971)
  • "Right Time Of The Night" (1972)
  • "Big Trouble" (1972)
  • "What Would They Say" (1973)
  • "Back Doors Crying" (1973)
  • "Dream Drummin'" (1974)
  • "Easy Evil" (1975)
  • "Can't Let You Go" (1975)
  • "Let Her In" (1976)
  • "Slow Dancin'" (1976)
  • "It Had To Be You" (1976)
  • "I Don't Know What I Like About You Baby" (1976)
  • "Baby, I Could Be So Good At Lovin' You" (1977)
  • "Razzamatazz" (1977)
  • "Sandy" (1978)
  • "Greased Lightnin'" (1978)
  • "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again" (1980)

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ rotten tomatoes about "Battlefield Earth"
  6. ^ A Plea From Hollywood: John Travolta - Open Your Heart!. Hollywood, Interrupted (10 April 2006). Retrieved on January 22, 2007.
  7. ^ Jo Piazza, Chris Rovzar. "Travolta son's diagnosis: Science vs. Scientology?", New York Daily News, April 2006. Retrieved on January 22, 2007.
  8. ^ Infectious Disease Information - Kawasaki Syndrome. Centers for Disease Control (January 2006). Retrieved on January 22, 2007.
  9. ^ Jumbolair. The House of Rapp (17 November 2003). Retrieved on January 22, 2007.
  10. ^ Clinton helped Church of Scientology.... (March 1998). Retrieved on January 22, 2007.
  11. ^ John Travolta: Clinton unterstützte Scientology in Deutschland (English). (1998). Retrieved on January 22, 2007.
  12. ^ Scientology, Travolta and Gays. FABMagazine. Retrieved on February 16, 2007.
  13. ^ Mark Ebner; Jack Cheevers. "The Bagman", New Times LA, 23 Mar 2006. Retrieved on February 16, 2007.
  14. ^ Lowri Williams (18 Sep 2006). John Travolta Is Not Gay: Just friendly.... Entertainmentwise. Retrieved on February 16, 2007.
  15. ^ biography of Diana Hyland. IMDB. Retrieved on March 28, 2007.
  16. ^ Geoff McClure (May 23 2006). Travolta cup flight chat was all hot air. The Age. Retrieved on February 21, 2007.

[edit] Literature

[edit] External links

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