Happy birthday to one of the nation's most recognizable movie stars, John Travolta! From Saturday Night Fever to Grease to Pulp Fiction, the actor, singer and dancer turns 63 years old today.
With his signature billowy black hair, chiseled jawline and cleft chin, Travolta has been lighting up both the small and big screen since the mid 1970s.
A native of New Jersey, he decided to drop out of high school at age 16 in hopes to pursue his interest in acting. According to Biography, Travolta made his way to New York and found luck on stage, debuting in the off-Broadway production of Rain. He then ironically joined the cast of Grease as a replacement for the actor playing Doody. In 1974, he landed a role in the musical Over Here!, making him a part of the original cast.
Travolta's breakout moment came in 1975 when he was cast as Vinnie Barbarino in the television sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. He was on the show for four years and earned heartthrob status with teens and young adults. With the opportunity to pursue acting in a more mainstream setting, Travolta branched out and found himself playing the lead in the critically acclaimed made-for-TV movie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.
Following the cult classic, he transitioned to the big screen and landed the 1977 role of disco-dancer, Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever. A year later, he revisited the musical Grease, but this time it was the big screen adaptation and got to play the lead, Danny. The combination of his various popular roles in close proximity of each other caused Travolta to skyrocket to fame.
In the next decade, Travolta's success on screen slowed down a bit. He had a hit with 1980's Urban Cowboy and the 1989 comedy Look Who's Talking, but his projects in between left much to be desired. After completing two sequels in the Look Who's Talking series, Travolta had a major comeback with 1994's Pulp Fiction. Playing hitman Vincent Vega, he earned his second Oscar nomination — his first came for Saturday Night Fever.
In the next 20-plus years of his career, Travolta continued to have hits and misses. In 1995, he won a Golden Globe award for his work as a loan shark collector named Chili Palmer in the comedy Get Shorty. Five years later, his interpretation of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's sci-fi novel in the movie Battlefield Earth was widely panned by critics. In 2007, Travolta returned to his musical roots and surprised audiences when he donned a wig and mountains of make-up with prosthetics to play mother Edna Turnblad in the smash Hairspray. His transformation earned him a Golden Globe nod.
In 2014, Travolta found himself the subject of much online fodder when he gave a faulty introduction of Broadway star Idina Menzel during the live broadcast of the Academy Awards. Menzel was on the program to sing the hit "Let It Go," but Travolta got his tongue tied, calling her "Adele Dazeem." He was instantly at the center of a viral moment, with a special Twitter account even being created for the faux Dazeem. Travolta ended up apologizing in an email and sent Menzel flowers.
In his personal life, Travolta has been married to wife Kelly Preston since 1991. The couple has two children: Ella Bleu, born in 2000, and Benjamin, born in 2010. Travolta and Preston also had a third child, Jett, but he passed away from a seizure in 2009 during a family vacation in the Bahamas.
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