JOHN TRAVOLTA WAS ABOUT
TO GO INTO HIS DANCE
The brash kid who became a TV star as
a Sweathog named Vinnie Barbarino was on the verge of becoming an
Oscar-nominted superstar when I interviewed him for The New York
Times in 1976. I believe he saw the whole thing coming. And he's
still here. --GUY FLATLEY
"I love being treated as a sex symbol, but I cant take it too
seriously," said the grinning, bushy-haired, adolescent-looking
actor. Although he recently made an impressive movie debut as the
villainous high school senior who gets a lethal comeuppance from
the cruelly ostracized Sissy Spacek in "Carrie," he is
better known as Vinnie Barbarino, the most endearingly disruptive
member of the Sweathogs, a pack of spunky Brooklyn high school lads
on televisions "Welcome Back, Kotter."
His real name is John Travolta, he turned 23 this morning, and
he is about to begin his first starring role in films, that of a
frantic Brooklyn youth who seems in danger of disco-dancing himself
to oblivion in "Saturday Night Fever," a Robert Stigwood production
directed by John Badham and choreographed by Jacques DAmboise.
"The kid is the best disco dancer in the area, but hes
got family problems, friend problems, and future problems,"
said Mr. Travolta. "He wants something more out of life than
his surroundings offer him. He knows he has the potential to go
ahead, but he doesnt know how. He has a fear that his life
Mr. Travolta, whose mother teaches acting in New Jersey, has never
been the victim of fear. From the beginning, he knew what he wanted
and precisely how to get it. "I quit school when I was 16 and
moved into Manhattan when I was 17. My parents didnt want
me to do it, but I convinced them that I had a big career ahead
He wasnt wrong, although it is not quite true that he is a
millionaire, as was recently reported. "The three-picture deal
I made with Stigwood exceeds a million dollars and includes percentages,
so I could be a millionaire within the next couple of years. In
the meantime, I love the publicity that makes me out to be one now.
Its fun to see your future spread out in front of you."
Mr. Travoltas future projects for Stigwood include "Grease,"
based on the long-running Broadway hymn to the foolishness of the
50s teen culture. "After that, I want to play an adult,
with adult problems, not some kid going through an identity crisis,"
he said. "I want to graduate, to be a mature person
someone, say, in his mid-20s."