John Joseph Travolta is an American singer, actor, and dancer. Travolta rose to fame during the 1970s, appearing on the television series Welcome Back, Kotter and starring in the box office successes Saturday Night Fever and Grease. His acting career declined through the 1980s, but enjoyed a resurgence in the 1990s with his role in Pulp Fiction, and he has since starred in films such as Get Shorty and The Taking of Pelham 123. Take a look below for 30 more awesome and fascinating facts about John Travolta.
1. Travolta is the youngest of six children, and was born and raised in Englewood, New Jersey, an inner-ring suburb of Bergen County, New Jersey.
2. His father, Salvatore Travolta, was a semiprofessional American football player turned tire salesman and partner in a tire company.
3. His mother, Helen Cecilia 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.
4. His siblings Joey, Ellen, Ann, Margaret, and Sam Travolta were all inspired by their mother’s love of theater and drama and acted.
5. His father was a second-generation Italian American with roots in Godrano, Sicily, and his mother was Irish American.
6. He grew up in an Irish-American neighborhood and said that his household was predominantly Irish in culture.
7. He was raised Roman Catholic, but converted to Scientology in 1975.
8. Travolta attended Dwight Morrow High School, but dropped out as a junior at age 17 in 1971.
9. 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’.”
10. He then moved to Los Angeles for professional reasons.
11. Travolta’s first screen role in California was as a fall victim in Emergency!, 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).
12. Around the same time, he landed his star-making role as Vinnie Barbarino in the TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter (1975–79), in which his sister, Ellen, also occasionally appeared (as Arnold Horshack’s mother).
13. Travolta had a hit single titled “Let Her In,” peaking at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July 1976.
14. Travolta was in a relationship with actress Diana Hyland, whom he met while filming The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.
15. Travolta married actress Kelly Preston in 1991, and bought a house in Islesboro, Maine.
16. The couple had a son, Jett (who died in 2009). Their daughter, Ella Bleu, was born in 2000, and a third child, a son, was born in 2010 in Florida.
17. Travolta and Preston have regularly attended marriage counseling; Travolta has stated that therapy has helped the marriage.
18. In May 1991, Time magazine published a cover story titled “The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power.” In the article, former Church of Scientology executive director William Franks alleged that Travolta was wary of leaving the faith because he feared the Church would publish detailed revelations of his private life, to include homosexual behavior.
19. Travolta endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the run-up for the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
20. On January 2, 2009, Travolta’s son, Jett, died at age 16 while on a Christmas vacation in the Bahamas. A Bahamian death certificate was issued, attributing the cause of death to a seizure.
21. In memory of his son, Travolta created the Jett Travolta Foundation, a nonprofit organization to help children with special needs.
22. 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.
23. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, joining other celebrities in helping with the relief efforts, Travolta reportedly flew his Boeing 707 full of supplies, doctors, and Scientologist Volunteer Ministers into the disaster area.
24. Travolta is a private pilot and owns four aircraft.
25. His estate in Ocala, Florida, is situated on Greystone Airport with its own runway and taxiway right to his house, with two outbuildings for covered access to planes.
26. On November 24, 1992, Travolta was piloting his Gulfstream N728T at night above a solid undercast when he experienced a total electrical system failure while flying under instrument flight rules into Washington National Airport. During the emergency landing, he almost had a mid-air collision with a US Air Boeing 727, an event attributed to a risky decision by an air traffic controller.
27. Travolta was inducted into the Living Legends of Aviation in 2007 and acts as the award show’s official ambassador.
28. On September 13, 2010, during the first episode of the final season of her talk show, Oprah Winfrey announced that she would be taking her entire studio audience on an eight-day, all-expenses-paid trip to Australia, with Travolta serving as pilot for the trip. He had helped Winfrey plan the trip for more than a year.
29. He is the author of the book Propeller One-Way Night Coach, the story of a young boy’s first flight.
30. In September 2014, Travolta denied claims made in January 2014 by his former pilot, Douglas Gotterba, that the two had shared a sexual relationship during the six-year period in which Gotterba worked for Travolta’s aircraft company, Alto.