2/18/1954 (66 years old) Englewood, New Jersey, United States
The youngest member of a family of actors, Travolta began his career as a juvenile TV player. After guest-starring on myriad series, he signed on to Welcome Back, Kotter in 1975 and became an instant teen idol. The next year he starred as the title character in the TV-movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble and embarked on an ill-fated romance with Diana Hyland, the older actress who played his mother; she soon died of cancer. Despite this personal setback, he was on a roll professionally, with an Oscar-nominated turn as a disco dancer in 1977's Saturday Night Fever and a charismatic performance as a 1950s delinquent in the musical Grease the next year. A series of box-office disappointments (Moment by Moment, Two of a Kind, Perfect) followed, but his nuanced performance as a hit man in the hip 1994 film Pulp Fiction revived his career and earned him an Oscar nod. Diverse, high-profile roles in a series of films followed, some successful and some not (most notably 2000's critically disparaged Battlefield Earth, which he also produced). On the home front, Travolta married Kelly Preston (who fell for him when they costarred in The Experts) in 1991 and the pair had two children. Tragedy struck, however, in 2009 when their son, Jett, died at the age of 16. In 2010, Travolta put his passion for flying to good use when he and Preston flew medical supplies and personnel to the earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Off screen, Travolta is an active follower of Scientology.