Before Tom Cruise, John Travolta was the biggest celebrity Scientologist, joining during the mid-’70s when he was on the cusp of fame.
While awaiting the Golden Globes ceremony on vacation with his family in The Bahamas, tragedy struck when Travolta's son, Jett, died after suffering a seizure. A caretaker at the hotel where the family was staying found him unconscious on the bathroom floor. Jett was rushed to Rand Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. He was only 16. Travolta and Preston had in the past confirmed that Jett had a developmental issues they linked to Kawasaki Syndrome, an inflammatory disorder known to cause heart disease. Nine months after their son's death, Travolta revealed his son was actually autistic during court testimony he was forced to give after Bahamian officials tried to extort money from him regarding the circumstances of Jett's death.
During shooting of "Fever," Travolta was dealt a heavy card when the love of his life, Diana Hyland, now a cast member of "Eight is Enough" (ABC, 1977-81), cast as mother of the large clan, died of cancer, reportedly in Travolta's arms. Despite knowing she was fatally ill, she had been the one person who had insisted he take on the role of Manero. He suffered an equal blow in 1978 with the loss of his influential and supportive mother.
Travolta did suffer an embarrassment in 2000, when he produced and starred in the sci-fi thriller Battlefield Earth, based on the novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard (whose teachings Travolta publicly admired and advocated). The film was universally panned as so bad it was funny, but Travolta bounced back, shedding some pounds to play the baddie in 2001 action thriller Swordfish.
The multimillionaire actor who has appeared on the cover of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine for a record four times is also a certified commercial pilot. He has to his name two of the most prestigious aviation awards. His passion for flying is highlighted by the fact that he owns an astounding five private jet planes.
John is also a business aircraft brand ambassador for Learjet, Challenger and Global jets for the world’s leading business aircraft manufacturer, Bombardier. John’s other aviation association is with the Breitling Watch Company, for whom he advertises the luxury aviation watches as a professional aviator, and his advertisements can be seen worldwide
John Travolta has been honored twice with Academy Award nominations, the latest for his riveting portrayal of a philosophical hit-man in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.” He also received BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for this highly acclaimed role and was named Best Actor by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, among other distinguished awards.
At the top of his game, it seemed John Travolta could do no wrong in the late 1970s. What he came up with were a series of hits (Urban Cowboy) and misses (Moment by Moment, Staying Alive, Two of a Kind). By the end of the 1980s, despite a brief comeback with the Look Who's Talking series, Travolta's poor career choices, missed opportunities and horrendous films landed him in the has-been actor category.
At 16 he landed his first professional job in a summer stock production of the musical "Bye Bye Birdie". He quit school at 16 and moved to New York, and worked regularly in summer stock and on television commercials. When work became scarce in New York, he went to Hollywood and appeared in minor roles in several series. A role in the national touring company of the hit 1950s musical "Grease" brought him back to New York.
John Joseph Travolta was born on February 18, 1954, in Englewood, New Jersey. The youngest of six children born into a family of entertainers, John Travolta dropped out of high school by age 16 to pursue a career in acting. He made his debut in an off-Broadway production of Rain (1972), then joined the Broadway cast of Grease, as well as the hit musical Over Here! starring The Andrews Sisters.