John Travolta, circa 1980.
 
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John Travolta
Forecourt Ceremony held on Monday, June 2, 1980
 
Born: February 18, 1954, in Englewood, New Jersey
Age at the time of the ceremony: 26
 
John Travolta made the leap from television to movie stardom, and has had a devoted following since the mid-1970s. Always revealing more talent than some of his characters would suggest, Travolta can be counted on to bring it in each film.

Travolta's father was a football player, tire salesman and tire company owner, while his mother Helen, was a singer, who eventually became a high school teacher of theatre and English. John was the youngest of six children, all of whom have acted at some point in their lives. Travolta grew up in a household which was more Irish than Italian.

John dropped out of high school at the age of 17, headed across the Hudson to Manhattan, where he adutioned for and got the part of Doody in a touring company of the musical Grease. He made his Broadway debut in Over Here! from February 1974; but Travolta seems to have left the popular show in order to seek his destiny in Los Angeles.

His first role in Tinseltown was as a fall victim on Emergency! aired over NBC in September 1972, then played a "troubled teen" on The Rookie aired on ABC in October 1973, and a young lover getting in the way of his girlfriend's treatment on Medical Center aired over CBS in December 1974.

Things shifted into high gear when Travolta was cast in the ground-breaking show Welcome Back, Kotter for 82 episodes over ABC from September 1975 to February 1979. At the beginning of 1975, Travolta joined Scientology, and has become one of its most famous adherents.

During the show's hiatus periods, Travolta worked in feature films, beginning with the incredible Carrie (released in November 1976) with Sissy Spacek. He scored a huge impression in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble aired over ABC in November 1976, directed by Randal Kleiser.

Travolta was now such a number that he headlined in Saturday Night Fever (released in December 1977), which showcased his athletic dancing skills. A monster hit, Fever convinced producer Robert Stigwood to star Travolta in the film version of Grease (released in June 1978), again, being directed by Randal Kleiser.

With Grease being a huge hit, Travolta's next film should have been a hit too. Moment by Moment (released in December 1978), with Lily Tomlin, was perhaps the most misguided flop of the 1970s. It is effectively buried in the vaults today. Travolta continued working on Welcome Back, Kotter, but he was getting — get this — $2,000 per episode!

Travolta's first post Kotter hit was Urban Cowboy (released in June 1980), with Debra Winger. Director Brian De Palma tapped Travolta to star in his remake of Blowup, Blow Out (released in July 1981, with Nancy Allen. An ultra-buff Travolta starred in a Saturday Night Fever sequel directed by Sylverster StalloneStaying Alive (which played the Chinese in July 1983) — was a hit, but is an acquired taste.

Travolta likes to work. But finding the right vehicles became dicey. He entered into a period of misfires — mostly comedies, like Perfect (released in June 1985), with Jamie Lee Curtis, Look Who's Talking (released in October 1989), with Kristie Alley (and a huuuge hit, nontheless), Shout (released in October 1991), with Jamie Walters. This lamentable state bottomed out with Look Who's Talking Now (released in November 1993), again with Kristie Alley. Travolta and talking dogs — doesn't that sound great?

Director Quentin Tarantino cast Travolta in his seminal Pulp Fiction (which played the Chinese in October 1994), which has become Travolta's most signature performance. The film placed Travolta in a new phase of his career: The Man Who Could Do No Wrong.

He got rave notices for playing a mobster who goes into film finance in Get Shorty (released in October 1995), with Gene Hackman, then had a solid hit with the touchy/feely Phenomenon (released in July 1996), with Kyra Sedgwick, and Michael (released in December 1996), with Andie McDowell.

Another rather sizable hit for Travolta was Face/Off (released in June, 1997), with Nicholas Cage, for director John Woo. He played a candidtae running for the US presidency in Primary Colors (released in March 1998), while The General's Daughter (which played the Chinese in June 1999), playing an Army Warrant Officer caught in a web of deceit. Another hit.

But in each life — a little rain. Travolta starred in L. Ron Hubbard's sci-fi potboiler, Battlefield Earth (released in May 2000), which fared worse than Moment by Moment.

Travolta continued to star in action films, balanced with other projects. Swordfish (released in June 2001), with Hugh Jackman, and Be Cool (which played the Chinese in March 2005), were predicatable enough, but in Hairspray (released in July 2007), Travolta played the female lead in the film, singing and dancing, and wowed everyone, with the picture becoming his fourth most succesful to date.

Travolta has most hewn to the action genre of late, including From Paris with Love (released in February 2010), with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Criminal Activities (released in November 2015), with Michael Pitt, and I am Wrath (released in April 2016).

Married since 1991 to actress Kelly Preston, the couple had three children. Oldest son Jett died while on vacation in the Bahamas of Kawasaki disease at the age of 16. Travolta is an avid pilot and owns several aircraft.
 
 
Caption TK
Mann's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. John Travolta Forecourt ceremony, Monday, June 2, 1980. Travolta gives the camera a smile after finishing his handprint.
 
 
 
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