It‘s been over a decade since John Travolta spread his hair with Grease and gave us all Saturday Night Fever. Trevor Johnston charts his progress from teen sensation to oldest
swinger in town.
4 The list 0- 71‘) April 19‘)“
Hollywood‘s the place where you can make a string ofcomebacks. even if you never actually went away. John 'l‘rayolta knows that story only too well. Once upon a time, way back in the olden days of 1978, he was the biggest star in the world. In an era when folks quite openly wore black shirts with white suits and the Bee Gees hung in the airwaves like smog. a former furniture salesman from Englewood. New Jersey. became the best thing to happen to the poster industry since the tennis player left her knickers in the locker-room.
Travolta was all-singing. all-dancing. all-preening. all-conquering. Whereeyer you looked he was there. and he catne in two versions. disco peacock or black jean rocker. With his skinny butt strut and the teeth. dimples. and baby blues on full frontal assault he was the piece of ass that passeth all understanding. And because he
made them feel good about running a comb through their hair in public. exert the dudes dug him. For eighteen months he had the world in the palm of his bikini briefs. l le did everything right except die.
'l'hen. ofcourse. he lost it. Looking for the right follow-through. 'l'rayolta falte red and faltered again. Like someone who was trying to remember how to walk. he spent most of the 80s stumbling around in a shambolic effort to scale the box office heights once more. Sometimes. as with stolid star vehicles like the indoor rodeo flick ('rban ( 'owhoy and Sly Stallone‘s absurd Fever sequel Slaying Alive. he got closer than others. When he was bad be explored new dimensions in turgidncss. like the investigative- journo-in-acrobics-corruption dog. Perfect. a movie that took such a hammering from the US critics even 'l'rayolta had to hide in a bomb shelter for two years.
Yet last autumn in America he silenced the pundits and stunned the industry. For the first time in oyer a decade. he had a big. big hit. OK. so it was a very small movie. a modestly-budgeted comedycallcd
Look Who's Talking. where he plays
second fiddle to a wise-thinking
baby. but. dumb as it undoubtedly is.-'
the picture has taken the great American public‘s fancy to the tune of$l~lll million. In moyieperson‘s parlance. 'l‘rayolta's temperaIure is torch hot. He could be set to join (‘ecil Parkinson and Lazarus in the ('areer 'l‘urnaround Hall of Fame. Just for the moment. though. he's ensconced in the (iroucho (‘lub. pleasa itly completing British promotional duties on Look Who's Talking. His simply-cut khaki suit stands out against the salmon-pink walls of an upstairs chamber as he leans back in his chair. hands behind
head. elbows pointed outwards.
looking every bit a man who‘s