18. He joined the Scientologists in the ’70s
Despite his more religiously conventional catholic upbringing, Travolta became devoted to something more on the fringes – Scientology. As early as 1975 he began to follow the controversial cult while on the set of The Devil’s Rain in Mexico. After trawling through a copy of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics, Travolta was transformed.
17. Welcome Back, Kotter welcomed him to the big time
While Travolta acted minor parts in television programs and stage shows in the early 1970s, it wasn’t until 1975 that he shot to real prominence – landing a starring role in the ABC sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. Playing the dumb but devastatingly good-looking Vinnie Barbarino, the fun-loving actor certainly got the ladies’ attention during the show’s four-year run. However, the best was still to come.
16. He comes from a supportive family
Travolta’s sister, Ellen, also had a small part on Welcome Back, Kotter, but she wasn’t the only member of his family to enter the entertainment sphere. His mother, Helen, was a dancer and actress in her own right and was one of the main influences in Travolta’s decision to pursue an acting career – in fact she was the one who enrolled him in his first drama class. Both Helen and Ellen enjoyed minor roles in Saturday Night Fever and Grease.