John Joseph Travolta (an actor, singer, dancer, producer, director and writer) was born in 1954 in New Jersey, in a New York City suburban area. His dad Salvatore was a football player, who later worked as a salesman, owning a tire selling firm. Mother Helen Cecilia (who gave birth to John at the age of 42) was a singer, radio host, actress and dancer, and also worked as an English teacher. Travolta has Irish and Italian descent, and his whole family is Roman Catholic.
After finishing highs school, John Travolta moved to NY, and started acting. His first roles were in the musical Grease (in one touring company) and in a play Over Here on Broadway where he was acting, singing and dancing. He first appeared on TV in a TV series Emergency, where he played victim. His first real role on screen was in 1976, in a legendary horror movie Carrie – where he portrayed the main hunk and bully Billy Nolan, and terrorized Sissy Spacek (who played the main character). Parallel with that movie, he was filming TV series/sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter which lasted for 4 years, and where his sister Ellen also played a smaller part. Also, in 1976, he was starring in a movie called The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, and further established himself as a true rising star.
At the end of seventies, Travolta worked on his singing career as well, and had a smashing hit Let Her In, which entered Billboard Hot 100 Chart at number ten. Following years brought him some of most popular roles he has ever had, in movies Saturday Night Fever (in 1977) and Grease, filmed a year later. Both roles included a lot of singing and dancing, which helped Travolta show off his various talents and skills. For the role of Tiny Maner (in Saturday Night Fever) Travolta was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actor category, and he became one of the youngest stars ever to be nominated for Oscar in this prestigious category. In Grease, he portrayed another heartthrob and hottie Danny Zuko showing that he can be equally successful in different genres. It is interesting that his mom and his sister Ann had minor roles in Saturday Night Fever, while his dear sister Ellen played a waitress in Grease.
Since the producers knew how talented he is, and how good he sings, they gave him an even bigger task, to also sing in his movies, and he was brilliant in Grease, where he performed few songs on the original movie soundtrack. In 1980, he made another movie which established him as an international superstar – Urban Cowboy, and his co-star was lovely, talented Debra Winger.
The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976) - made-for-TV movie
After amazing success John Travolta has experienced during the seventies, situation changed and he didn’t have a hit movie for a long time. He starred in Staying Alive (Saturday Night Fever sequel) but they didn’t reach the same level of success. After that he filmed Perfect with Jamie Lee Curtis, but the movie was a huge box office disappointment. Romantic comedy Two of a Kind (1983), with his Grease co-star Olivia Newton-John followed, but also failed to impress. At the same time, he made few bad career choices, by turning down two movies – American Gigolo and An Officer and a Gentleman which became legendary, and were both huge blockbusters. (Richard Geere took both roles and became an international superstar thanks to these movies). The only hit movie Travolta starred in, at the time, was Look Who’s Talking, inspiring comedy with Kirstie Alley and Bruce Willis who did the voiceover for a baby character.
After few very bad career choices, Travolta was struggling and wasn’t able to get back on his feet. He was starring in few B-production movies, waiting for a big role, for the right one, to get him back to the A-list. In 1994, up and coming director Quentin Tarantino offered him a role of Vincent Vega in his movie Pulp Fiction, and Travolta gladly accepted. It was a smart move since he received an Oscar Nomination and his career was refreshed, instantly. Offers kept coming to his address, and he used that opportunity perfectly to once again, show what he’s worth. He played in Get Shorty (in 1995), in excellent movie Face Off (action drama with a twist) where he played and FBI agent and a terrorist, one year later he played in A Civil Action, and critically acclaimed Primary Colours, and in 1999 he starred in The General’s Daughter.
Besides playing in action, drama and comedy movies, Travolta also starred in Sci Fi films, whenever he was offered to. One of most popular Sci Fi films he participated in was Battlefield Earth, based on a novel by L. Ron Hubbard. Although movie had a great story, good effects and fine cast, it gained mostly bad reviews and received few Razzies, for the worst motion picture in 2000. Hubbard was the father of scientology, and his ideas are not quite warmly welcomed, worldwide. However, after reading his works and getting to know the idea of scientology – Travolta became their dedicated follower and a proud member of the church.
In the past few years Travolta played in a funny movie Wild Hogs, about few middle aged friends, who decide to go on a road trip riding their choppers. Famous for his excellent sense of humour, Travolta also took the part of Mrs. Edna Turnblad, in the modern version of legendary movie Hairspray (this part was originally played by transvestite superstar – Divine). Hairspray was the first musical Travolta agreed to appear in, since Grease.
Known for his remarkable voice, Travolta gladly accepted the offer to do the voiceover for the animated movie Bolt produced by Disney studios. He even sang one of the songs on soundtrack titled I Thought I Lost You (it was a duet with teen pop star and his co-star in Bolt, Miley Cyrus).
In 2009 he starred alongside Denzel Washington in a remake of seventies cult movie Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3 and in an action comedy Old Dogs (his co-stars were comedians Bernie Mac and Robin Williams). Travolta will appear in several movies in 2010, and the first one coming up is entitled From Paris with Love.