The actress Kelly Preston, who has sadly died of breast cancer, left behind a family punctuated by tragedy. She had three children with her husband, John Travolta, but their son, Jett, died at age 16.
It was Travolta who announced that Preston was dead at the age of 57 after a two-year battle with breast cancer. The actor released a lengthy statement on his Instagram page, as did the couple’s daughter, Ella.
A family representative told People Magazine that Preston had decided to keep her cancer fight private. “Choosing to keep her fight private, she had been undergoing medical treatment for some time, supported by her closest family and friends,” the representative told the magazine.
Here’s what you need to know about Kelly Preston’s family:
1. Travolta Wrote That His Wife ‘Fought a Courageous Fight’
John Travolta informed fans that he needed to be there for his children so they probably wouldn’t hear from him for a while. He wrote:
It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer. She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many. My family and I will forever be grateful to her doctors and nurses at MD Anderson Cancer Center, all the medical centers that have helped, as well as her many friends and loved ones who have been by her side. Kelly’s love and life will always be remembered. 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.
All my love, JT
Preston met Travolta back in 1988 during a screen test for a movie called The Experts, according to CNN. In 1991, they eloped to Paris because their New York wedding was getting out of control, she told Live With Kelly and Ryan, saying, “The wedding got so big and so crazy. And I thought once the florist’s assistant got an assistant, I was done.”
According to CNN, she was briefly married to actor Kevin Gage and dated George Clooney and Charlie Sheen. Her marriage to Travolta was an enduring one, however.
2. Ella Travolta Called Her Mother ‘Courageous, Strong, Beautiful & Loving’
Travolta and Preston had daughter Ella together. She also shared a tribute to her mother, writing:
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. Thank you for being there for me no matter what. 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.❤️
Three weeks before her mother’s death, Ella shared a Father’s Day tribute to her dad on Instagram, writing, “One of the many things I admire most about you is that you never cease to love and help your fellows. You are gracious and selfless and that inspires me to be a better person everyday. Thank you for raising me with so much love and kindness. I am forever thankful to have you in my life and I love you so much. Happy Fathers Day Daddy!!!❤️❤️❤️”
On mother’s day 2020, she wrote, “Happy Mother’s Day to this incredible woman. Beautiful inside and out, hard working and the most amazing mother and wife. I love you so much!!!❤️🌸😘 wishing a happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there💛.”
Ella Bleu Travolta is 20 years old. Her IMDB profile says that Ella is an actress with credits in Old Dogs (2009), The Poison Rose (2019) and Entertainment Tonight (1981).
3. Jett Travolta Died After Suffering a Seizure at Age 16
Jett Travolta, the son of Travolta and Preston, died tragically and young at age 16 while the family was vacationing in the Bahamas. According to BBC, the teen had a history of seizures and was autistic. He suffered a seizure before he died. Jett also had Kawasaki syndrome and he may have hit his head after suffering from the seizure, according to Scientific American.
The death devastated the family. “The truth is, I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” Travolta revealed, according to BBC. “Life was no longer interesting to me, so it took a lot to get me better.”
Travolta is a well-known Scientologist. “I will forever be grateful to Scientology for supporting me for two years solid, I mean Monday through Sunday,” he said, according to BBC.
Preston once blamed household cleaners and pesticides for her son’s autism, People Magazine reported, saying he had been “very, very ill, but it seemed like flu symptoms” before being diagnosed with Kawasaki disease.
4. Preston Had a ‘Silent Birth’ With Son Benjamin
After Jett’s devastating death, Preston and Travolta had another son together named Benjamin. In 2010, when Benjamin was born two years after Jett died, they told ABC News that his birth was “nothing less than a miracle” and “a new beginning.”
“I think if you give your kids as much love, you know, you can never spoil them with too much love,” Preston said to ABC, and Travolta added, “I think I knew what love was before, but I think I didn’t have a clue until I had children with Kelly.”
Preston was 48 years old when she had Benjamin but didn’t say whether it was with the help of infertility treatments. “We had a silent birth, with no spoken words as much as possible that was performed in a calm and caring environment,” she told ABC.
5. Preston Was Born in Hawaii & Her Mother Ran a Mental Health Center
According to CNN, Kelly Preston was born Kelly Kamalelehua Smithin Honolulu, Hawaii.
Her mother is named Linda Carlson. “I cried so hard I couldn’t see straight, just bawled my eyes out,” Carlson told USMagazine when she found out that Kelly was pregnant with Benjamin. “Because I’ve been so worried about her! When they’re that unhappy. I could cry right now remembering.” That article revealed that Preston has a brother named Chris.
A biography for Preston issued by the State of Hawaii quoted her as saying, “I was actually born Kelly Smith. My real dad passed away, and then my dad whom I consider to be my dad, Peter Palzis, adopted me when I was 3, so it was Kelly Palzis.”
Her parents separated when she was 15, and she also lived for a time in Australia. “Preston’s dad is a retired personnel manager; and mom, Linda Carlson, is a retired executive director of a mental health center. Half-brother Chris Palzis is a screenwriter in Los Angeles,” the state bio reported.