It’s All in the Family
Helen Travolta encouraged her son’s acting career, as she herself was an accomplished actress and dancer. She even starred alongside her son in Saturday Night Fever, a film which made John one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. It may be her influence that pushed John to move from New Jersey to New York and pursue his dream of becoming an actor. His sister, Ellen, also has a career as an actress, appearing alongside her brother in the film adaptation of Grease.
Fame on the Stage and the Small Screen
John’s first taste of life as an actor came on the stage. He appeared in the traveling production of ‘Grease’ and later in the Broadway show ‘Over Here.’ He also had small roles in numerous television shows, which brought him to Hollywood. In 1975, he starred in ‘Welcome Back, Kotter,’ where he played student Vinnie Barbarino for 4 seasons. This is the show that made John a household name.
First Major Movie
In 1976, John starred in the TV movie ‘The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.’ In the film, he played Tod Lubitch, a teenager who is born without an immune system. He has to live his life in a plastic bubble for fear of catching a sickness that he can’t fight off. The girl next door, played by Glynnis O’Connor, convinces him to leave his bubble for love. John found love during filming, but not from co-star O’Connor.