18 february, 1954
One of six children born to Helen Travolta and Salvatore Travolta, John Travolta grew up in Englewood, New Jersey. His father owned a tire repair shop in Englewood. Travolta appeared in a local production of "Who'll Save the Plowboy?". His mother enrolled him in a drama school in New York, where he studied voice, dancing and acting. He decided to combine all three of these skills and become a musical comedy performer. At 16 he landed his first professional job in a summer stock production of the musical "Bye Bye Birdie". He quit school at 16 and moved to New York, and worked regularly in summer stock and on television commercials. When work became scarce in New York, he went to Hollywood and appeared in minor roles in several series. A role in the national touring company of the hit 1950s musical "Grease" brought him back to New York. An opening in the New York production of "Grease" gave him his first Broadway role at age 18. After "Grease", he became a member of the company of the Broadway show "Over Here", which starred The Andrews Sisters. After ten months in "Over Here", he decided to try Hollywood once again. Once back in Hollywood, he had little trouble getting roles in numerous television shows. He was seen on "The Rookies" (1972), "Emergency!" (1972) and "Medical Center" (1969) and also made a movie, The Devil's Rain (1975), which was shot in New Mexico. The day he returned to Hollywood from New Mexico, he was called to an audition for a new situation comedy series ABC was planning to produce called "Welcome Back, Kotter" (1975). He got the part of Vinnie Barbarino and the series went on the air during the 1975 fall season. The rest, as they say, is history.