The Shady Side Of John Travolta

This article includes mentions of sexual assault.

John Travolta is many things: serial comeback kid (thanks to Quentin Tarantino and Ryan Murphy), star of multiple 0% rated films on Rotten Tomatoes, and, it seems, controversy magnet. Ever since he donned that blindingly white suit in 1977's "Saturday Night Fever," and showed off his impressive falsetto in "Grease" a year later, Travolta has been a mainstay of the big screen. Once a handsome, dimpled heartthrob who got his freak on to the "Misirlou" in "Pulp Fiction," he's now wallowing in his own Misirlou.

Admittedly, Travolta has had some career lows. When he starred in the Fred Durst-directed (yes, that Fred Durst) "The Fanatic" as a stan for, er, Stan, Travolta wasn't exactly rollin' in it. Likewise, his performance as the eponymous mob boss in crime flick "Gotti" hardly gave Marlon Brando a run for his money. All the while, it appeared that when he wasn't furrowing his brow to play stalkerish fans and mobsters, Travolta was engaging in his own shady behavior.

There is a dark side to the perennially grinning and seemingly amiable star. As he's a vocal devotee of the Church of Scientology, the organization has been at the forefront of many of Travolta's controversies. Likewise, the actor has long been rumored to be gay, something that his Church strictly forbids (according to insiders), and this has led to numerous tensions and conflicts, namely a barrage of sexual misconduct allegations. Things are about to get stranger than (pulp) fiction: this is the shady side of John Travolta.

John Travolta's creepy excuse for Adele Dazeem

It was a moment of Oscars infamy that will go down with the likes of David Niven owning an opportunistic onstage streaker and the "Moonlight"/"La La Land" fiasco. At the 2014 Academy Awards, John Travolta had one job: to introduce "Let It Go" singer Idina Menzel. But there was audible confusion when Travolta declared that "Adele Dazeem" would be performing the warbling 2010s anthem. Despite knowing that he was going to be introducing the songstress, Travolta didn't bother to learn Menzel's name, thereby undermining her as a star in her own right.

What makes this bizarre snafu even worse is Travolta's reasoning for messing up the "Frozen" chanteuse's name. In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, he blamed the faux pas on being distracted by "sexy, beautiful" Goldie Hawn and her "amazing" lips while "hugging and loving her up." Not only was getting Menzel's name epically wrong a travesty, but it was equally demeaning to blame it on his supposed lust for another actor. Travolta really wants us to believe that it was a woman's fault for his own slip-up.

With each excuse, it seemed that he was compelled to dig himself deeper into a very shady hole, indeed. It's one thing to meet a person impromptu and unknowingly mispronounce their moniker, but it's another to usher in a singing sensation at a major awards ceremony and not bother to learn their name. And it's quite another thing to blame the shambles on the allure of Goldie Hawn.

John Travolta allegedly has a license to kill

Since 1975, John Travolta has been a prominent member of the highly controversial Church of Scientology, per 7News. But if insider dissidents are to be believed, his authority within the organization seems to extend far beyond the powers of most religious groups. We knew heartthrob Danny Zuko had chills (they're multiplying), but a license to kill?

There are rumors that Travolta has reached a high ranking within the Church, which apparently enables him to act in a manner not unlike the mob boss he has portrayed on screen. In an explosive interview with The Daily Beast, ex-Scientologist Jeffrey Augustine made some alarming claims about the power Travolta wields within the Church. Augustine said that Travolta has "a dark side and he's reckless," before alleging that the actor's status within Scientology has enabled him to remain blissfully unaware of the numerous abuses that have reportedly occurred. "People at his level never see the ugly side of the church," Augustine revealed. "Plus, he's got OSA [Scientology's Office of Special Affairs] as his own private Mafia if he gets into trouble."

These claims appear to have been corroborated by other ex-Scientologists. According to Leah Remini, Travolta can get away with murder due to his special title of "Khakhan." Remini told Joe Rogan, "You can kill another human being. If you are Khakhaned, you're gonna look the other way." When Rogan asked Remini whether Travolta himself has the authority to kill others, she responded in the affirmative. Yikes.

Could he be more than friends with another Scientologist?

In the late '80s and early '90s, the "Look Who's Talking" flicks provided a vehicle for John Travolta and Kirstie Alley to show off their palpable chemistry, while raising raspy-voiced babies voiced by Bruce Willis and Joan Rivers. Well, it seems that their rapport was down to more than good acting. The pair, who are both Scientologists, became super close. And according to Alley, they may be more than just great pals.

In a 2018 interview with The Sun's Dan Wootton, Alley revealed that she and Travolta "sort of fell in love with each other" and were tempted to embark on a tryst, only forgoing an affair due to her loyalty to her then-husband. Although Alley insisted that they never had sex, she said their rapport was "even worse" than an affair because of how deeply she was in love with Travolta — and how long the infatuation lasted. The "Cheers" star added that Travolta only resumed his relationship with Kelly Preston once "it became very apparent" that their flirtations would not lead to anything steamier. However, Alley hinted to Howard Stern (via omg! Insider) that Preston remained suspicious about the nature of the pair's relationship.

It seems that Travolta shares Alley's sentiments. In a candid movie premiere chat with Us Weekly in 2019, he called Alley his "best girlfriend" and "soulmate." Considering that Preston died a year later, it was arguably insensitive for Travolta to talk that way about a former flame.

His family's controversial understanding of autism

Tragically, John Travolta's 16-year-old son, Jett, died in 2009. The teen's death proved increasingly mysterious; Jett was believed to have suffered a fatal seizure, yet post-mortem examination showed that his body was in "great condition," counteracting claims that he hit his head before he died, per ABC News.

Following the youngster's untimely passing, Travolta refused to discuss that his son had autism, leading to intense criticism from autistic advocacy groups, per Us Weekly. Eventually, however, Travolta did concede that his son was autistic. As former Scientology minister Bruce Hines told CBS News, the revelation was particularly controversial since Scientologists "believe that the only reason a person can get ill is because they are in some way connected to a suppressive person and a suppressive person is someone who is opposed to Scientology."

The ensuing views that Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston expressed regarding Jett's autism were arguably entrenched in ableist rhetoric. On "The Doctors," Preston acknowledged that her son had autism and Kawasaki disease. She said that both she and her husband believed that certain chemicals contributed to their son's neurodiversity. As autism campaigners highlight, such ideation is rooted in ableism, whereby autism is seen as a terrible fate, something to be prevented or "cured." "We don't need to be cured or fixed," journalist Eric Garcia told The Guardian. "Do we have challenges? Yes. Policy should not be focused on curing autistic people but on helping us live more fulfilling lives."

John Travolta has touched and kissed people without their consent

After the calamity of the 2014 Oscars, John Travolta was inexplicably invited back the following year. This time, he decided to take his creepy behavior to a whole new level when he kissed and touched Scarlett Johansson on the red carpet. As Johansson posed for the cameras, Travolta waltzed by, placed his hand precariously low on her waist, and planted a non-consensual kiss on her cheek, leading to viewers collectively declaring "WTF." Although Johansson went on to defend him, there's no denying that kissing a woman without her consent is totally not okay, with Huffington Post branding Travolta "Hollywood's creepy uncle." What's more, the inappropriate behavior didn't end there.

At the same ceremony, Travolta had yet another weird encounter with the woman whom he infamously branded Adele Dazeem a year earlier. As the Mirror reported, Idina Menzel poked gentle fun at Travolta, branding him "Glam Gezingo." But the "Pulp Fiction" star turned a playful moment into something sinister when he went on to grab Menzel by the chin and stroke her face for what seemed like a lifetime. An evidently uncomfortable Menzel was seen gritting her teeth as she no doubt wished that her co-presenter would let it go. He clearly isn't the one that she wants.

It appears that Travolta has a history of the old "kiss and grab." At the 2008 Santa Barbara Film Festival, he planted a surprise smooch on a visibly stunned nonagenarian Kirk Douglas — while accepting an award in the actor's name, per HuffPost.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The actor has taken on several problematic roles

When John Travolta was cast in the 2007 remake of "Hairspray" as Edna Turnblad, a role traditionally played by drag icon Divine, there was a huge backlash due to Scientology's alleged homophobia. Kevin Naff of the Washington Blade (via HuffPost) argued that Travolta "has no business reprising an iconic gay role," citing Scientology's reported use of conversion therapy. To make matters worse, Travolta defended his role in the remake of the iconic LGBTQ flick by telling The Times, "There is nothing gay in this movie. I'm not playing a gay man. Scientology is not homophobic in any way," which appeared to imply that there was something inherently wrong with the film having gay themes.

The original "Hairspray" was, of course, written and directed by the openly and proudly gay John Waters: as Philadelphia Gay News points out, the 1988 film is undoubtedly and palpably an ode to LGBTQ culture. While "Hairspray" has a queer-friendly message, this is in conflict with Travolta's own interpretation of the film, having dismissed the gay themes, potentially to conform to heteronormativity.

Additionally, Travolta courted controversy for his depiction of an autistic man in "The Fanatic," directed by none other than Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst. argued that the film "really, really hates autistic people." Travolta's inauthentic portrayal of a neurodiverse individual seems particularly shady considering that his late son had autism. Years earlier, in 1995, he also appeared in the racially insensitive film "White Man's Burden," which Nathan Rubin branded "staggeringly misconceived."

The heated John Travolta/Tom Cruise face-off

As two of the most powerful figures in Scientology, one would assume that John Travolta and Tom Cruise have a lot in common. According to insiders, the pair are both power-hungry and hellbent on dominating the Church. Unfortunately for Travolta, it would appear that his frenemy is more adept at reaching the higher echelons of David Miscavige's organization.

Sources have alleged that two of Scientology's most famous devotees have major beef. In particular, Travolta is allegedly super jealous of Cruise and his preferential treatment within the organization. Speaking with the Daily Mail, former Scientologist Brendan Tighe said that "Cruise is the only celeb with a direct line to Miscavige. Travolta and Kirstie don't have that." Subsequently, this has led to rumored animosity from Travolta, who reportedly "doesn't get anything free" and grew increasingly resentful of Cruise, who seemingly took his place as the "favorite son" of Miscavige. "It's no secret that Cruise and Travolta despised each other," Tighe alleged. "Travolta wasn't invited to Cruise's wedding with Katie Holmes, it told me everything." Apparently, Travolta was majorly "p***ed off" when his archenemy was awarded Scientology's highest honor, the Freedom Medal of Valor.

Travolta seems to disagree with Miscavige's belief in Cruise's supposed superiority, feeling intense "jealousy" over the Scientology leader's Top Gun. One may wonder why Travolta is supposedly compelled to be Miscavige's number one follower, particularly when the Church's higher powers are notorious for their alleged shady dealings.

John Travolta has been accused of sexual assault

In 2017, Radar Online reported that John Travolta had been accused of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old masseuse back in 2000, which led to a sexual battery lawsuit. The man alleged that Travolta made crude remarks and exposed his genitals during a massage. As reported by the BBC, a second man claimed that Travolta attempted to have sex with him at a hotel in 2012. Per E! News, Travolta denied the claims as "baseless," and two of the alleged victims dropped their lawsuits

However, another man soon accused him of sexual misconduct. "It got to the point where they couldn't find any men to take him, and they had to ban him," the accuser told the New York Daily News regarding Travolta's alleged insatiable requests for male masseuses (via Express). And the inappropriate behavior doesn't end there. 

Is Travolta a gym freak or a total creep? Apparently, he loves nothing more than heading to the gym at 3 a.m. Attendee Justin Jones told ABC News that Travolta was showing up to a Florida gym in the early hours of the morning and began an overly friendly conversation with him. "He asked a lot of questions about if I was married and If I had kids," Jones explained. Not all of the Travolta gym stories are quite so innocent, however. According to an unverified Reddit story (via Gawker), another man had an encounter with Travolta that led to some decidedly inappropriate behavior whereby the star supposedly exposed his genitals.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

For someone who's been MeTooed, he has problematic views on MeToo

From Sean Penn claiming that MeToo is divisive to Woody Allen hailing himself as the hero of the movement, there's no shortage of (male) celebs offering their two cents on the fight to end sexual misconduct. As Bustle points out, more often than not such comments are misguided attempts to assuage the scrutiny on gendered power imbalances. Like his peers, John Travolta is not immune to expressing some utterly misguided views on the pivotal social movement.

At the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Travolta surely confused attendees and reporters with his views. When asked about the MeToo movement while promoting "Gotti," it seems Travolta didn't quite getti. "I honestly don't know a ton about it, because I try my best to keep people equal — men, women, races... I'm a citizen of the globe, and I'm a citizen of groups and people," he said, per the Los Angeles Times. He also asserted that it's "inhuman" to differentiate the sexes since "we're all in the same boat together."

Continuing to comment on gender inequality, the actor said (per The Hollywood Reporter), "Division is a dangerous thing." Some critics likened Travolta's remarks to the perils of color blind ideation. The Cut argued, "As a post-race, post-gender 'citizen of the world' Travolta doesn't have the time or bandwidth to consider the biggest social-reform movement currently sweeping through his industry."

The cost of John Travolta's devotion to Scientology

John Travolta had a complicated relationship with his former pal and Scientology celebrity liaison Spanky Taylor, who endeavored hardships on her way out of the controversial religion. Taylor was cut off from Travolta more than once, so he quit communicating with her and eventually told fellow Scientologist Priscilla Presley, "No, don't go through Spanky." In the book "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief," author Lawrence Wright suggests that Travolta may have played a role in Taylor's ostracization: "...she realized she had been declared a Suppressive Person. Nobody had bothered to tell her, but from now on, no Scientologist would be allowed to talk to her." 

7News argued that Travolta's passionate promotion of the organization has been instrumental in discouraging "victims of Scientology" from leaving, "many of whom may have joined or stayed because Travolta has for decades promoted it as 'beautiful'."

Responding to criticisms of his religion, Travolta has remained evasive. In 2015, he did not plan to view the "Going Clear" documentary based on Wright's book. "I've been so happy with my (Scientology) experience in the last 40 years that I really don't have anything to say that would shed light on (a documentary) so decidedly negative," he told the Tampa Bay Times. Rather sinisterly, he said that it "would be a crime" to speak negatively about the religion.

John Travolta allegedly opposes traditional psychiatric medicine

We all remember Tom Cruise educating Matt Lauer on the so-called "pseudoscience" of psychiatric medication. This is in line with Scientology's reported "worldwide war against psychiatry," as outlined in a 2014 study (via National Library of Medicine). John Travolta agreed with Cruise's stance, telling W Magazine (via Access) in 2007, "I don't disagree with anything Tom says. ... I still think that if you analyze most of the school shootings, it is not gun control. It is (psychotropic) drugs at the bottom of it."

In Travolta's case, his reported opposition to medication allegedly could have had dire consequences. The New York Post reported that Travolta's late son, Jett, may have been negatively impacted by his parents' possible refusal to give him medication. Instead, for his Kawasaki syndrome, Travolta and Kelly Preston apparently subjected Jett to "detoxification," which involved saunas and dieting as a means of "purification." According to a source for CBS News, Jett was initially on an anti-seizure drug, but his parents took him off it, supposedly due to the possibility of organ failure. As The Atlantic argued at the time, "If Jett Travolta's seizures remained untreated for theological reasons, the debate is just starting."

When Kelly Preston died of cancer, The Blast reported that fans began to question whether she, too, had been denied life-saving drugs, though there is no evidence backing up such claims. Regardless, Travolta is known for his interest in alternative medicine. As Josh Brolin recounted to The New Yorker, Travolta allegedly once "cured" Marlon Brando's leg pain using psychic healing powers, an incident which Travolta's lawyer denied.