The Transformation Of Ella Travolta

Ella Bleu Travolta was born into Hollywood royalty, and having two famous parents is a distinction that can make or break a child, depending on how they end up feeling about their own baked-in celeb status — and what they end up doing with it.

After Ella's famous parents tied the knot in 1991, they remained one of Hollywood's enduring couples until her mother Kelly Preston's tragic death in 2020 at age 57. Preston appeared in a number of popular movies, including "Jerry Maguire" and "For Love of the Game," but she clearly viewed being a mom as one of her most important roles. "I've always wanted to be a mother, ever since I was 11. I was an expert babysitter. I was doing commercials for thousands of dollars, but I'd still babysit for $3 an hour just because I loved it," Preston told Health magazine in 2011.

Preston met her perfect match in "Saturday Night Fever" star John Travolta, who also found that he and parenthood "go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong." In 2019, the "Grease" icon told People that he was raising his kids to have minds of their own, saying, "Just because they are little bodies doesn't mean that they shouldn't have a say-so." Now that Ella is an adult, we're delving into how her attentive upbringing helped her transform into an accomplished young woman with a bright future ahead of her.

How her birth was unusual

Kelly Preston and John Travolta wed in 1991 after first meeting on the set of the 1989 movie "The Experts," per CBS News. But according to Preston, fellow Scientologist Kirstie Alley deserves some credit for their relationship. "She's always wanted us together," Preston said during an appearance on "The Montel Williams Show" in 2003. Alley made sure that Preston and John were seated next to each other at a party, and by the end of the night, they were dating.

Scientology played a major role in some of the couple's other most important life moments, including the home birth of Ella Bleu Travolta in 2000. Preston attempted to have a Scientology-approved "silent birth," which requires making an effort to avoid speaking during childbirth, Preston explained to "Today" in 2011. This was no easy feat by the time she reached her 13th hour of labor. "It got hardcore at the end because [Ella] was so big," Preston told Redbook (via Today). The Church of Scientology also cautions pregnant women against using painkillers during childbirth, believing that both drugs and noise can have traumatic effects on babies, per the Chicago Tribune. However, Preston admitted to Redbook that she did eventually beg to be taken to the hospital to get an epidural.

It was too late at that point, and according to Preston, her husband was hands-on during Ella's arrival. "We pulled her out together and laid her on my chest," she recalled to Redbook (via the New York Post).

The natural entertainer had an awkward Oprah encounter

While speaking to "Today" about her silent births, Kelly Preston said, "My kids have always been amazing. Just very calm, very peaceful, happy, and I absolutely know that it's very much because of that." But despite her quiet entry into the world, Ella Bleu Travolta turned out to be quite the talker; in a 2001 interview with SFGATE, John Travolta bragged about his daughter having a vocabulary of around 100 words when she was just 18 months old. They included the Italian word "ciao," which Ella was probably ready to use when she met Oprah Winfrey as a child.

Ella described her awkward encounter with Winfrey when she appeared with her dad on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in 2019. "I actually lost my first tooth with Oprah on a boat," Ella recalled. "I think I swallowed the tooth, actually. ... So that might have not been so good." Luckily, her parents made sure that she still got paid for the gulped-down denticle.

Ella wasn't just meeting stars as a child; she was preparing to be one herself. "Since I was very little, I've loved performing, singing, dancing and putting on shows at home for my family and friends," she told People in 2019. She revealed that she and her pals had their own stage to perform on at her parents' home in Maine, and they were a rather creative bunch who came up with their own original idea for a show: "The Real Housewives of Maine."

Ella Travolta had a strong work ethic as a child

Like many young girls from her generation, Ella Travolta was a huge "Hannah Montana" fan. John Travolta and the star of the Disney series, Miley Cyrus, collaborated on a song for the 2008 animated movie "Bolt" and filmed a music video together, which scored John some major brownie points with his daughter. "I was so popular when I got home after the news of doing a song with Miley. Doing a movie with her was big enough news. Singing and dancing with her was a whole other thing," the actor told The Oklahoman.

His daughter seemed to share Cyrus' strong work ethic growing up, but unlike the pop star's "Hannah Montana" character, Ella wasn't singing in front of screaming fans when she landed her first big paying gigs. In 2009, she appeared alongside her dad on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" for her first talk show appearance, and she listed off a few of the odd jobs that she was already working. "Smoothie King and a pet store, because I love pets, and the horse barn. I help out and clean," she said. "Listen, we need the extra money," her dad quipped.

The budding equestrian revealed that she was also learning how to show jump, but she wasn't too busy to enjoy some downtime. In a 2007 appearance on "Oprah," John revealed that Ella actually liked watching his movies, and this is what sparked her interest in getting into the family business.

Her first movie premiered during a tragic time

According to John Travolta, his oldest child, Jett Travolta, didn't share Ella Travolta's fondness for watching their dad at work. "Jett was young when he saw 'Look Who's Talking,' but he didn't like it when I was kissing Kirstie Alley. But Ella took right to it right away. That's why last year she said, 'When am I going to do a movie with you?'" John said on "Oprah" in 2007. Ella's interest in acting came at the perfect time; not long after she spoke to her dad about it, he read the script for the Disney movie "Old Dogs."

Kelly Preston joined her husband and daughter as part of the cast, and she was impressed with how at ease Ella was in front of the camera. "She was amazing," Preston told Access. "She loved it." Ella was 7 years old when she began shooting the movie with her parents, and she was 9 when "Old Dogs" hit theaters in 2009. Sadly, Ella's older sibling died just a few months before the premiere. According to The Guardian, Jett suffered a fatal seizure while the Travoltas were vacationing in the Bahamas.

Even though they were grieving, the Travoltas attended the movie's premiere together. "We decided it was okay to come out and promote, to introduce [Ella] to the world and to give her a beautiful future in film," John explained during a joint interview with the rest of the movie's cast, per USA Today.

She met a Twilight star while taking a break from acting

According to Kelly Preston, Ella Travolta wasn't ready to jump right into another project after the family finished filming "Old Dogs." "Afterwards she said, 'You know, I think I'm gonna take a year off, have a little break,'" Preston recalled to Access. In a 2019 interview with KTLA 5, Ella explained that she wanted to complete school before acting again, but this didn't mean that she stopped rubbing elbows with celebs who weren't her parents.

When she appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in 2009, Ella confessed to being a major Twihard fan, so much so that she couldn't choose between Team Edward and Team Jacob. "I like both. I call it 'Jedward,'" she said. But she was firmly on Team Jacob when she learned that Taylor Lautner was going to drop by her house in 2010. Ahead of the visit, Ella and her friends used the internet to do some reconnaissance on Lautner and his family, who were joining the actor. Much to her mortification, John Travolta made a typical embarrassing dad move when the group arrived. "The first thing he says to them is, 'Oh, Ella was just looking you guys up on the internet,'" Ella recalled on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

The revelation was met with awkward laughter from Lautner, according to Ella, but her dad didn't see anything wrong with his actions; he said he thought Lautner would be "flattered" by the internet stalking. 

Ella Travolta became a big sister

In 2011, Ella Travolta and her parents had something big to celebrate: At age 48, Kelly Preston gave birth to a baby boy named Benjamin. "He's given the house a renewed spirit and purpose," John Travolta told People. Ella was excited when she learned she was going to be a big sister, and she was no jealous sibling. "Ella's like, 'Mom, ugh! Thank god you had Ben because now he can take some of the kisses!'" Kelly Preston said in an interview with Health magazine. The overjoyed mom also told People, "You would have thought Ella was having Benjamin herself because of her enthusiasm about his arrival — she was elated, to say the least. When she first saw him, she fell in love."

Two years after scoring her role as a big sister, Ella was ready to return to acting. In a 2013 interview with Business Jet Traveler, John revealed that she'd signed on to do a movie with Helen Hunt, and the proud dad asserted that nepotism had no part in her getting the gig.

While the film role never materialized, Ella did start attending some major Hollywood events with her father, including the 2013 Oscars. "She loved it," John told the Ocala Star-Banner. "She hobnobbed with Spielbergs and with Halle Berry — you name it. Christopher Plummer, Jane Fonda, Adele and Barbra Streisand." Ella attended the event again the following year, so she was there to witness the notorious Adele Dazeem incident.

At age 16, she practiced an important driving skill on TV

John Travolta is a licensed pilot, and in 2013, he told Business Jet Traveler that he thought Ella Bleu Travolta had what it takes to follow in his high-flying footsteps. "She's so good on the computer that my [sense] is that she probably will take it up, because she's really quick," he said. But first, Ella had to learn how to properly operate a vehicle on the ground.

When Ella was 15 years old, John told "Extra" that he and Kelly Preston were acting as her driving instructors, but boasted, "She already knows how [to drive], really." Parallel parking proved to be a more difficult task for the teen, who lived out a student driver's worst nightmare when she attempted the tricky maneuver for the first time  – in front of millions of viewers. She was 16 years old and only had her driver's permit when she appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in 2016 and was filmed parallel parking a long jalopy. The lesson didn't get off to a great start when Ella got inside the car and asked, "Wait, is it on?" She backed into the front bumper of another vehicle, and she was taking so long that DeGeneres hopped out of the backseat to close her show.

While Ella clearly wouldn't be driving anywhere with dates anytime soon, her dad revealed that he wasn't restrictive when it came to her love life. "I don't interfere with that," he said.

Ella Travolta decided not to star alongside her parents in a big project

In 2011, Entertainment Weekly reported that John Travolta was going to play New York City crime boss John Gotti in a biopic. Lindsay Lohan was possibly attached to the project at the time, and had the OG version of the film come to fruition, the "Mean Girls" star and Ella Bleu Travolta could have played sisters Victoria and Angel Gotti. By 2015, Kelly Preston had signed on to play the Teflon Don's wife, who is also named Victoria. "My wife looks like Victoria and my daughter looks like Angel. It's really weird," John Travolta told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's uncanny. I looked at pictures and was thinking this is too perfect. Life is too short not to go to work with your family and friends."

But the actor's dreams of making the movie another family affair, à la "Old Dogs," were dashed when Ella dropped out of the project. "She's gonna wait to do something different," John Travolta told People in 2016. He added, "She will do it when she feels it's the right time. ... She wants to come back the way she wants to come back." Ella's decision to back out seemingly didn't have anything to do with the high schooler thinking it was no longer cool to spend time with her dear ol' dad; the Daily Mail published photographs of the father and daughter shopping together in January 2017, something many teenage girls wouldn't be caught dead doing.

Ella Travolta worked with her dad again

A decade after she made her big screen debut, Ella Bleu Travolta decided to get back into acting. She found herself sharing the screen with her famous father again, and their roles called for them to return to the era of John Travolta's heyday: the '70s. However, in the 2019 movie "The Poison Rose," he played a detective investigating a murder, not a disco king. "I'm the prime suspect," Ella told KTLA 5 of her role – but there was a plot twist. "She plays my daughter, but I don't know she's my daughter," John told "Extra" in 2018. "Although I look at her and she looks just like me, so it's going to be hard to play that." The star-studded cast also included Morgan Freeman, Brendan Fraser, and Famke Janssen.

On "Jimmy Kimmel Live," John recalled how a then-18-year-old Ella told him that she was ready to start acting again one week before he received the script for the movie. Ella told KTLA 5 that one positive aspect of working with her dad was that the two of them could practice their lines together at home so they were better prepared to shoot their scenes. "I mean, it's so fun to have this as the family business and all get to do it together," she said. 

Ella's mom couldn't have been prouder. "Still in absolute awe of my stunning daughter," Kelly Preston wrote on Instagram. "...she has jumped into 'the family business' as an absolute natural."

She joined Instagram and became more active in Scientology

In May 2019, Ella Bleu Travolta made her Instagram debut. Her dad welcomed her to the social media platform in a video that he posted on his own page, saying that it was Ella who had talked both of her parents into joining Instagram a year earlier. In some of her first posts, Ella paid tribute to John Travolta's work; she posed wearing a head wrap over her hair in an imitation of the character Frenchie from the movie "Grease," and she shared a video of herself doing "The Swim" as a child, revealing that it was filmed before she had seen her dad's "Pulp Fiction" co-star Uma Thurman perform the move during their iconic dance scene.

Ella was also making major moves in her family's church. Her parents had been outspoken Scientologists for years when Ella quietly demonstrated that she had embraced the religion by presenting an award during a Church of Scientology event. The Underground Bunker even published a photograph of Ella posing with the award's recipient, a member of the church.

Tony Ortega, the expert on Scientology who created The Underground Bunker website, explained the significance of Ella's attendance at the event, which was held while the church was observing an important holiday. "Most well-known scientology actors' kids don't really do anything public, so this is kind of a big step for Ella," he told Radar. "It shows that she considers herself a Scientologist and she's part of that group."

After Kelly Preston's tragic death, Ella Travolta paid tribute to her mom

The Travolta family suffered another tragic loss in July 2020 when Kelly Preston died from breast cancer. John Travolta shared the sad news on Instagram, revealing that Preston had the disease for two years and had been undergoing treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center. "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," the actor wrote.

Ella Bleu Travolta also paid tribute to her mother on Instagram, writing in part, "I have never met anyone as courageous, strong, beautiful and loving as you. Anyone who is lucky enough to have known you or to have ever been in your presence will agree that you have a glow and a light that never ceases to shine and that makes anyone around you feel instantly happy." She also thanked her mom for everything she'd done for her. A month later, John shared a video of himself and his daughter paying homage to Preston in a poignant way. The actor explained that Preston loved to dance, so Ella honored her mother's memory by sharing a bittersweet dance with him. Ella had a smile on her face that appeared to waver a bit as John twirled her around.

An insider described Ella's relationship with her mother to Us Weekly, saying, "Ella and Kelly were best friends and inseparable."

Ella Travolta landed a role inspired by a classic literary character

After taking some time to grieve Kelly Preston's death, Ella Travolta and her dad stepped back into the spotlight together. In February 2021, John Travolta busted out some of his "Grease" moves for a Super Bowl ad with Ella. However, instead of doing the hand jive in a high school gym, they promoted Miracle-Gro by performing the '50s-era dance on a lush, green lawn. And rather than play the role of partner stealer Cha-Cha DiGregorio, their co-star Martha Stewart admired John from afar, declaring, "He's still got it." Ella later gushed about how much fun she had shooting the ad, telling People, "Each year I always look forward to watching the Super Bowl and all of the great commercials. When Scotts Miracle-Gro offered my dad and I this opportunity, I was overjoyed to share this amazing experience — not to mention dance together!"

At that point, Ella was still only being paid to appear on-screen with her dad, but this changed just a few weeks later when Deadline announced that she had signed on for her first film role without her father as a co-star. Ella landed a lead part in "Get Lost," a fresh take on the beloved children's classic "Alice in Wonderland." The movie re-imagines the title character as a backpacker in Budapest who goes on a fantastical journey. On Instagram, John shared a photo of his daughter in costume and wrote, "I'm a very proud dad!"

She launched a music career

Ella Bleu Travolta proved that she has more than her acting talent in common with her dad when she decided to pursue a career in music, too. John Travolta hit his musical peak in the '70s, thanks in part to his contributions to the "Grease" soundtrack, which included his chart-topper with co-star Olivia Newton-John, "You're The One That I Want." In 2021, Ella showed off her own singing skills on Instagram and TikTok, teasing that she was working on an EP. She also played the piano in a short video clip, and that snippet was enough to win her an instant fan following. "You are extremely talented. I enjoyed this song and can't wait to hear the rest of it," one of her Instagram followers wrote.

On January 6, 2022, Ella dropped her debut single "Dizzy," and her supportive dad helped her promote it by appearing in a video with her and mouthing a few of the song's lyrics. He was rewarded with a big smile and a kiss on the cheek. "It's been a long time coming but I'm still that 14 year old weird girl at heart and I love it," read Ella's caption on Instagram.

It looks like she'll also always be a daddy's girl, and we're guessing John wouldn't have it any other way. "[Ella] is gracious, generous, poised, graceful and gorgeous," he told People. "I don't know how she came to be, and I don't take any credit other than just adoring her."