The passing of Kelly Preston marks the second tragedy the Travolta family has faced in recent years.
On Sunday, Preston died after a two-year battle with breast cancer. The actress’s passing comes 11 years after the death of her and Travolta’s 16-year-old son, Jett, who died after having a seizure during a family holiday in the Bahamas, where the family owned property.
According to People, Jett hit his head in a bathtub at the Old Bahama Bay Hotel on Grand Bahama Island, and was later declared dead at Rand Memorial Hospital.
Speaking on Larry King Live after Jett’s passing, Bahamian Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe, said of the family, “Mr. Travolta spent a tremendous amount of time with his son Jett. He never left him at home. He always brought him with him. And once you saw John Travolta, you saw his son Jett. They were very close, very affectionate. Lots of love you see at all times.”
In April, the couple honored what would have been Jett’s 28th birthday. Both Preston and Travolta took to Instagram with birthday wishes.
Jett Suffered From Kawasaki Disease
Jett was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease at a young age. Kids Health reports that the illness causes inflammation in blood vessels throughout the body and most commonly affects children under five.
Speaking with Larry King in 2001, Travolta said, “With my son … I was obsessive about cleaning — his space being clean, so we constantly had the carpets cleaned… And I think, between him, the fumes and walking around, maybe picking up pieces or something, he got what is rarely a thing to deal with, but it’s Kawasaki syndrome.”
In 2002, Preston spoke to Montel Williams about Jett’s symptoms before he was officially diagnosed. E! quoted Preston as saying, “Jett’s whole immune system shut down, and he got really sick with high fevers, 104 and 105. I kept taking him into the doctor and they didn’t know what was wrong with him. He developed a rash on his body, swollen lymph glands—it was horrible.”
Preston, who explained that her son also suffered from asthma, blamed household cleaners and disinfectants for Jett’s condition, according to People. After her son’s diagnosis, she told Williams, “… lo and behold, they don’t know how you acquire it, and lo and behold, there were tons of kids in the ICU with Kawasaki’s. I’d never even heard of it. And they give you a questionnaire with about 50 questions on it. I went and talked to everybody— every single parent—and everyone had cleaned their carpets in the last couple of weeks. That was one of the questions. So I don’t know what the correlation is … I’m just saying we need to know more.”
Travolta Accused 2 People of Attempting to Extort $25 Million After Jett’s Death
In the wake of Travolta’s tragic loss, the Grease actor accused one of the medics who responded to Jett’s seizure, as well as the medic’s attorney, of trying to extort $25 million from the Travolta family.
In the trial, according to ABC News, Travolta testified that the medic accused of blackmailing him was “allegedly threatening to say that Travolta was at fault in his son Jett’s death.”
The outlet continued, “The actor was called back to the stand to confirm that on Jan. 16, 2009, two weeks after Jett died, he had been notified by his bodyguard and his attorney that someone was demanding $25 million and, if it wasn’t paid, a document Travolta signed to refuse transporting Jett to a local hospital would be ‘sold to the press.'”
Eventually, the charges were dismissed, as the actor and his family no longer wanted to “face the pain of a new trial,” reported ABC.
In a statement, Travolta wrote, “The long-pending status of this matter continued to take a heavy emotional toll on my family, causing us to conclude that it was finally time to put this matter behind us … Therefore, after much reflection I concluded that it was in my family’s best interest for me not to voluntarily return to The Bahamas to testify a second time at trial.”
Along with Jett, Travolta and Preston are parents to 20-year-old Ella and 9-year-old Benjamin.