Kelly Preston, Actress and Wife of John Travolta, Dies at 57

The Four Percent


Kelly Preston, an actress best known for her role as a hardhearted fiancée of the Tom Cruise character in the 1996 film “Jerry Maguire,” died on Sunday in Florida. She was 57.

Her husband, the actor John Travolta, said in an Instagram post on Monday that the cause was breast cancer. She had been treated for the cancer for two years, he said, something she had kept largely to herself.

“She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many,” Mr. Travolta said. The post did not say specifically where she died.

Ms. Preston broke into film and television in the early 1980s, often playing a young and sexy character, as she did in the 1985 comedy “Mischief,” where she was “the shallow charmer the nerd dreams about,” Jay Carr wrote in The Boston Globe.

But the next year, in “Space Camp,” she wasn’t so shallow; her character, Tish, seems to be the teenage Valley Girl stereotype but turns out to be a genius who plays a pivotal role during a crisis.

Ms. Preston aged into the types of cute-but-smart adult roles often identified with Meg Ryan. A breakthrough was the 1988 comedy “Twins,” where she played Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love interest.

She met Mr. Travolta in 1988, when they worked on the comedy “The Experts,” released the next year. They married in 1991. She had a cameo with Mr. Travolta in the 2000 sci-fi flop “Battlefield Earth,” and the couple worked together in the 2018 film “Gotti,” in which Mr. Travolta played the Mafia boss John Gotti and Ms. Preston his wife, Victoria Gotti.

Ms. Preston said that to help prepare for the role, she met Ms. Gotti, and the two ended up forming a relationship. “We sat there for hours, just talking and eating,” Ms. Preston said at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Vanity Fair reported. “I also had an email relationship with her, and she would tell me everything.”

In the interview, she also revealed that she had once met the actor Jack Lord in a supermarket in Hawaii and, in 1980, starred in an episode of the police drama “Hawaii Five-O” with him. It was her first television credit.

Other early TV credits included “Quincy M.E.” and “CHiPs.” She later had recurring roles in “Fat Actress” in 2005 and “Medium” in 2008.

Ms. Preston’s marriage to the actor Kevin Gage in 1985 ended in divorce two years later. She was engaged for a time to the actor Charlie Sheen.

In addition to Mr. Travolta, survivors include their children, Ella Bleu and Benjamin. Their eldest son, Jett, 16, died in 2009 after having a seizure.

In a 1988 interview with KVUE-TV in Austin, Texas, promoting “Twins,” Ms. Preston talked about filming dance scenes with Mr. Schwarzenegger, who was at that point known only for action roles like the title character in “Conan, the Barbarian.” The two worked with a choreographer on steps like the waltz — though not for the benefit of Ms. Preston, who had dance experience.

“Sometimes I thought I deserved hazard pay,” she said. “My toes were black and blue.” But, she added, “He can really dance well when it comes to, say, rock ’n’ roll and it’s just the two of you and your feet are nowhere near the soles of his feet.”

Neil Genzlinger contributed reporting.



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