IT was one of the longest and happiest marriages in Hollywood, but now John Travolta has been left heartbroken by the death of his beloved wife Kelly Preston.
The Twins actress, who was married to Travolta for 28 years, lost a two-year battle against breast cancer this weekend at the age of 57.
It’s a devastating blow for the Pulp Fiction star, who has been plagued by horrendous tragedies throughout his career.
Aged 23, he was at the bedside of first love Diana Hyland when she too died of breast cancer, just a year into their relationship.
It would be another 12 years before he settled down again, after meeting Kelly on the set of the movie The Experts.
However, heartbreak struck again in 2009 when the couple's son, Jett, died after suffering a seizure, but the rock solid marriage helped both to overcome their grief.
Here’s how Travolta's love of the actress helped him battle his pain and find happiness that would last almost three decades.
First love died in his arms
The youngest of six children growing up in New Jersey, Travolta was a loner who says he didn’t fit in at school.
“Not too many of my friends identified with what I was doing,” hetold The Phoenix. “I participated in football and basketball and did what they were doing, but not many kids understood my going to acting studios at night.”
At 22, Travolta hit the big time with roles in Carrie and The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. It was on the latter that he met Diana Hyland, 18 years his senior – who played his mum.
The pair fell madly in love and began a passionate relationship that was cut short when she died on March 27, 1977 at the age of 41.
In a cruel twist, she died from breast cancer, the same disease that claimed Kelly.
I have never been more in love with anyone in my life. I thought I was in love before, but I wasn’t
“I have never been more in love with anyone in my life,” he later said.
“I thought I was in love before, but I wasn’t. From the moment I met her I was attracted.
“We were like two maniacs talking all the time on the set of Bubble. After a month it became romantic.”
Diana Hyland's son Zachary revealed the actress died in John's arms and that Travolta loved his mum “unconditionally”.
Love at first sight and instant chemistry
Travolta was on the cusp of his biggest break, filming the role of Danny Zuko in Grease – but director Randal Kleiser revealed he was so consumed by grief he often struggled with his lines.
After three years, Travolta began dating again, having a brief romance with French star Catherine Deneuve and a tempestuous on-off relationship with Marilu Henner, that ended in 1985.
When the actor met Kelly Preston, at a screen test for the 1989 comedy The Experts, she was still married to actor Kevin Gage.
The pair had wed in 1985 but split two years later, and Kelly had dated George Clooney and was engaged to Charlie Sheen.
Travolta later said it was “love at first sight” and he felt “immediate chemistry,” but the couple didn’t begin their romance until 1990, when Kelly was single.
On New Year’s Eve 1991, Travolta got down on one knee inside the Palace Hotel restaurant in Gstaad, Switzerland, and proposed with a six-carat yellow-and-white diamond ring.
Surprised Kelly reportedly “screamed” with delight.
They wed in a lavish ceremony on September 5 1991 at the Hotel de Crillon in Paris, and had a second wedding at Daytona Beach, Florida, after discovering the first was not legally binding.
Kelly was already pregnant with their first child, Jett. Daughter Ella Bleu was born eight years later, in 2000.
Travolta is a devoted dad, and told People magazine: “I’m the dad that says ‘yes’ to everything.”
Kelly revealed: “Johnny has absolutely no discipline. He is the dad who says, 'I can't, hon.' He just can't (discipline them).”
Son's shocking death on family holiday
The couple’s happiness was shattered in January 2009 when their 16-year-old son, Jett, died.
The teenager hit his head on a bathtub after suffering a seizure at their home on Grand Bahama Island, during a family holiday.
Speaking in an interview in 2014, Travolta described losing Jett as the “worst thing that’s ever happened in my life”.
The truth is, I didn’t know if I was going to make it. Life was no longer interesting to me, so it took me a lot to get me better
“The truth is, I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” he said.
“Life was no longer interesting to me, so it took me a lot to get me better.”
In an interview with Lifetime, Kelly said: “Nobody should have to lose a child. It’s unfathomable. But I’m here to say that you can get through it. You can live again. You can want to live again.”
Miracle baby brings new hope
Despite the tragedy, the couple remained strong and helped each other through the grief and, in 2011, they announced the birth of baby Benjamin.
Their miracle baby, born when Kelly was 47, changed their lives for the better after the devastating loss of their son, Jett.
Travolta told Hello magazine, “He’s given the house a renewed spirit and purpose. He’s brought us a new beginning.”
Having a new baby was very healing for the family, he said, adding: “For us it’s been uplifting, especially when he smiles at me and seems contented in my arms.”
Final tribute to the 'most wonderful man I know'
The devoted couple's enduring marriage outlasted most Hollywood pairings by years.
In an interview with Closer, Travolta shared: “We really care deeply about each other and we protect each other — and we keep [our relationship] up to date."
Kelly agreed and added: “Keep checking in and keep growing and changing. Keep doing things, just the two of you.”
The fiercely loyal pair kept Kelly's two year cancer battle secret from fans but, on their wedding anniversary in September, she posted an emotional tribute to "the most wonderful man I know" on Instagram.
She wrote: "You have given me hope when I have felt lost, loved me patiently and unconditionally… made me laugh harder than any other human being possible… shared the most beautiful highs and at times low.
"You're a dream Daddio and make life so much fun!! I trust my love with you implicitly… with you I know I will always be okay no matter what happens.
"I love you forever and completely. Happy 28th Anniversary @johntravolta."
This morning, the devastated actor posted his own heartbreaking tribute to his "beautiful" wife.
"It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer," he wrote.
"Kelly's love and life will always be remembered. I will be taking some time to be there for my children who have lost their mother, so forgive me in advance if you don't hear from us for a while."
Losing the one woman who has helped him deal with grief so many times before makes the death of Kelly all the more tragic for her heartbroken husband.
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