RSR readers I am truly sorry for my absence over the last few months. At the age of 77, the medical procedure I had actually worked, but it took me a lot more time to mend than expected. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate your countless emails that you flooded me with your good wishes and a healthy recovery. And even my old friend Steven Spielberg, who read my column about him stopped by the house to check on me. What a Class Act he remains all those years since are first meeting on the set of Jaws.
Well, enough about me, and onto John Travolta. I have always felt that as an actor, he was not appreciated as much as should be. He has been plying his trade for over 40 years and though it’s a term so badly overused today, he is an American Treasure.
In 1977, my friend John Badham was directing a then 22 year old TV Star who rose to fame as Vinnie Barbarino on the hit show, Welcome Back Kotter who of course was John Travolta. The movie Badham was directing was Saturday Night Fever and it cemented Travolta as a major star which brought him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his role as tough, but cool, Tony Manero. Richard Dreyfuss won out for The Goodbye Girl and I remember sitting next to Dreyfuss by chance and he walked over to John to shake his hand because he thought for sure, Travolta was going to win and enjoyed his role.
Back to the set of Saturday Night Fever….. I came on the day they were shooting the scene where Travolta is in the now famous white suit was about to boogie as they called it on the disco floor for some amazing footage. As John danced, “Bad Man” as I called Badham, said, “watch this guy Moxie Man, you are going to love him.” I sat there in amazement on how Travolta owned the dance floor… When “Bad Man” yelled cut, he called John over who was sweating, but had a huge smile on his face because he knew he did something very special that was in the can for the editing department.
“Bad Man” introduced John to me who was very polite and said “I heard of you stepping into save Errol Flynn’s career years ago which has become Hollywood folk lore. We then went to lunch and talked for hours… It would be the last time I would hang out with John Travolta, but I have watched his career from afar and he truly has worked at his craft and become an American Treasure!