John Travolta shared the sad news in an emotional post on Instagram, explaining he will be taking time away from the spotlight to be with his kids.
“Kelly's love and life will always be remembered,” he wrote about his wife of 28 years. “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. But please know that I will feel your outpouring of love in the weeks and months ahead as we heal.”
Preston leaves behind two children she shared with the actor: daughter Ella, 20, and 9-year-old son, Benjamin. Travolta knows the importance of family amid heartbreak as unfortunately this isn’t the first tragedy he has endured.
In 2009, Travolta and Preston’s son Jett unexpectedly died after suffering a seizure and hitting his head in a bathtub on a family trip. He was only 16. The actors revealed their firstborn was autistic and previously diagnosed with Kawasaki Syndrome, an acute febrile illness that primarily affects young children.
Although they mostly grieved Jett in private, both Travolta and Preston opened up more in recent years about how they survived the the horrible loss.
Travolta, 66, said his family was glued back together after welcoming Benjamin.
“We certainly have bonded together,” he told Good Morning America in 2016. “Certainly having little Ben has been a beautiful kind of glue for us to rebond after a tremendous loss.”
Aside from family, the Grease star credited the Church of Scientology in helping them cope.
“It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened in my life,” Travolta told Us Magazine of Jett’s death. “The truth is, I didn’t know if I was going to make it.”
Travolta explained that the church “never left our sides for two years.”
“I don’t know if I would have made it through without their support,” he told the magazine. “Our church is the number one thing that keeps us grounded.”
The Travolta family will likely be leaning on the church again as well as each other. Ella shared a touching tribute to her “courageous, strong, beautiful” mother.
“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. Thank you for being there for me no matter what,” she wrote. “Thank you for your love. Thank you for your help and thank you for making this world a better place. You have made life so beautiful and I know you will continue to do so always. I love you so much mama.”
Well-wishes for the Travolta family have poured in on social media.
“Sending so much love to you and your family in this heartbreaking moment,” Mariah Carey wrote on John Travolta’s Instagram post.
“I am holding you all in love. Your wife, your partner in life, was a darling soul. Always at the ready with comfort and grace. What a team you were. She will be so missed,” Selma Blair added.
“Oh John, I’m so sorry. Sending all my love to you and the family,” Shania Twain commented.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, who starred in Twins with Preston, will remember Preston’s “big heart.”
Kelly Preston was extraordinary. I was lucky enough to star with her and direct her, and her talent was off the charts. She had such a big heart, she was a wonderful wife and mother, and my thoughts are with John and the whole family.
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) July 13, 2020
Alec Baldwin, Mia Farrow, Russell Crowe and other stars have reacted on social media, too.
How tragic and sad about Kelly Preston. I shot CAT IN THE HAT with Kelly many years ago .
She remains one of the loveliest people I’ve ever worked with. Funny. Kind.
My heart goes out to John and their family.
— HABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) July 13, 2020
Loving thoughts for 9 year old Benjamin, 20 yr old Ella and John Travolta also the Preston family. May you rest in peace beautiful, talented Kelly Preston. https://t.co/Rj9Lth4kcP
— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) July 13, 2020
Can’t remember where, but, met first in late ‘92 I think.
Such a lovely person. In 1995 we auditioned together for Breaking Up, Salma Hayek got that gig.
I havent seen her much, but when I did, she was always the same sparkly eyed gem.
Love to her family.
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) July 13, 2020
This was not Travolta’s first loss to breast cancer: He had dated actress Diana Hyland during the filming of 1976 film The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, in which they were costars, and she died of the disease in 1977. Hyland played Travolta’s mother in the film and was 18 years his senior. According to Hyland’s son, she died in Travolta’s arms less than one year after her diagnosis.
Travolta ultimately met the love of his life in 1989, when he and Preston did a screen test for The Experts. They wed in 1991, when she was two months pregnant with Jett.
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