October 14, 1950
Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, producer, director, writer|
|Spouse(s)||Wendy Shawn (m. 1980)|
|Relatives||John Travolta (brother)
Ellen Travolta (sister)
Margaret Travolta (sister)
Life and career
Travolta, one of six children, was born and raised in Englewood, New Jersey, an inner-ring suburb of New York City. His father, Salvatore Travolta, was a semi-professional football player turned tire salesman and partner in a tire company. His mother, Helen Cecilia (née Burke; 1912–1978), who was 38 when Travolta was born, was an actress and singer who had appeared in The Sunshine Sisters, a radio vocal group, and acted and directed before becoming a high school drama and English teacher. His father was a second-generation Italian American and his mother was Irish American.
He attended Shepherd University in West Virginia while rooming with future West Virginia historian and special education vanguard, Dave Lind. Travolta also graduated from Paterson State College, now William Paterson University, with a degree in special education.
Travolta began a singing career in 1978 as a recording artist on Casablanca Records, releasing his eponymous album. The following year he made his acting debut starring in the feature film Sunnyside for Filmways Productions. He then became a guest star in the 1980s television show Simon & Simon in the episode, The Hottest Ticket in Town. Additional acting credits include work with director John Landis on multiple feature film projects: Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) with Eddie Murphy and Hector Elizondo, Oscar (1991) with Sylvester Stallone and Chazz Palminteri, and Susan's Plan with Adrian Paul and Dan Aykroyd. He was also a series regular on the WB television hit Movie Stars (1999). Stage performances include starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, Guys and Dolls, and West Side Story. He wrote and directed Diva Las Vegas in 1989, which went on to win the Italian Funny Film Festival.
In 1991, he produced and starred in Da Vinci's War with James Russo and Michael Nouri. He later produced and starred in the sequel, To the Limit (1995), which also featured Nouri and Anna Nicole Smith.
Travolta made directing his main priority in 1994. He directed the action thrillers Hard Vice (1994) starring Shannon Tweed and Navajo Blues (1996) starring Steven Bauer. Subsequent titles include Earth Minus Zero (1996) starring Academy Award nominee Pat Morita, Laws of Deception (1997) starring C. Thomas Howell and Brian Austin Green, Detour (1999) starring Michael Madsen and Academy Award nominee Gary Busey, Mel (1996) starring Jack Scalia and Academy Award winner Ernest Borgnine, Partners (2000) starring Casper Van Dien, Enemies of Laughter (2000) starring Peter Falk, and Waiting to Live (2002) starring Lee Majors and second generation star Alison Eastwood.
For television audiences he directed the police drama L.A. Heat (1999), Friday Night After the Movies (2010), and the syndicated Disney series Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show (2007). He has directed music videos as well such as Aqua's Doctor Jones and Latvia's entry, in Eurovision Song Contest 2008, Pirates of the Sea.
Travolta has also gained national acclaim for his mission of helping students develop self-esteem, confidence, and creativity through acting and digital film making. He founded Inclusion Films, which involve individuals with special needs in the process of making films. The first of these, Sweet Sixteen, was made in 2008. In late 2009, Travolta hired filmmaker Tyler Norman to write and direct Inclusion's second film, "Spud". Travolta's students crewed the film, which premiered in 2010 and took numerous festival awards. Shortly thereafter, the third film "Accidents" was completed.
He has also collaborated with a non-profit organization called HEAL, based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, to form another film camp in association with Inclusion Films and Jacksonville-based Filmlab Productions, called the HEAL Film Camp with Joey Travolta.
Joey is married to Wendy Shawn (daughter of comedian Dick Shawn) and they have one daughter, Rachel.
- McCarthy, Dennis (April 1, 2004). "Autistic kids let us into their world". Daily News of Los Angeles. p. N3.
- Pearce, Garth (July 15, 2007). "On the move: John Travolta". Times Online. Retrieved July 17, 2007.
- "John Travolta Biography (1954–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
- "Begorrah!! Travolta's Irish...". Showbiz Ireland. January 7, 2007. Retrieved July 17, 2007.