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John Travolta is a Golden Globe-winning actor whose breakout role was in Saturday Night Fever. He had a career revival in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.
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John Travolta was born on February 18, 1954, in Englewood, New Jersey. He dropped out of high school by age 16 to pursue acting and soon joined the Broadway cast of Grease. He became a star as Vinnie Barbarino in the TV series Welcome Back Kotter, followed by the hit films Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Travolta made a career comeback in 1994, with Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.
"Dancing's part of my soul. I enjoy it, it makes people happy, and it makes me happy."
"You feel alive to the degree that you feel you can help others."
"Having kids is something you can't always do. Kids are like lightning. You grab that lightning when you can get it."
"I have to believe there's some other life force out there. I don't know in what form. But we can't have all these galaxies and universes without something going on."
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.
In 1975, Travolta shot to stardom for his role as Vinnie Barbarino in the hit TV series Welcome Back Kotter. The following year, he won the lead in the critically acclaimed TV movie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. International fame came with two successive box-office hits, Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Grease (1978). He earned an Oscar nod for his role in the former, becoming an icon for disco nightlife and '70s culture.
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.
Then, in 1994, Travolta made a career comeback when he starred in Quentin Tarantino's crime smash Pulp Fiction. He earned his second Academy Award nomination and went on to win a Golden Globe for his performance in the critically acclaimed film Get Shorty. Other notable films include Broken Arrow, Phenomenon, Primary Colors, The General's Daughter and Ladder 49.
After a long string of dramatic roles, Travolta returned to his musical roots with the film adaptation of the Broadway smash Hairspray (which in itself was based on the 1988 film by John Waters) in 2007. The film tells the story of a plump young girl who wants to be a performer on a local dance show. Travolta played the girl's mother, Edna Turnblad. With the help of wigs, make-up, costumes and a fat suit Travolta convincingly transformed himself into a large woman to play the role. He earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
Most recently Travolta voiced the lead role in the Disney film Bolt (2008). In the movie, he plays a lost dog who believes he is a super hero. He also performed the duet "I Thought I Lost You" with co-star Miley Cyrus for the ending credits of the film. In 2009 he appeared in Old Dogs, co-starring Robin Williams and Bernie Mac, a comedic Disney film about two business partners who are unexpectedly charged with the care of 7-year-old twins.
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Dance pioneers like Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly—remembered for his groundbreaking performance in 1952's Singin' in the Rain—truly set the stage for Hollywood's dance-film genre. John Travolta, Jennifer Beals, Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey and Natalie Portman are some of the performers who took up where Astaire, Rogers and Kelly left off, repopularizing dance on film for later generations. Biography.com's Famous Movie Dancers group examines the lives and careers of these high-stepping performers who will always be remembered for their unforgettable moves.
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