Born the youngest of six on this day in Englewood, New Jersey, actor John Travolta (1954-) is of Italian-Irish descent and described his middle-class childhood as "wonderful" and "happy."
He explained, "My parents liked to inspire creativity... It mattered to them what we thought, felt, and did."
With a dazzling smile, black hair, and piercing blue eyes, Travolta's big break came in the role of sweathog Vinnie Barbarino on television's Welcome Back Kotter (1975-79).
"I've always thought that as long as I did the right things and had the right intentions, everything would fall into place," said the optimistic star.
His career exploded with Saturday Night Fever (1977). As Tony Manero, the king of Brooklyn disco scene, the New York Times called his Oscar nominated performance "deft and vibrant." Next came another musical triumph, Grease (1978), with Travolta as sexy hero Danny Zuko.
Although Travolta's career sagged in the 80s, he said his faith in himself never wavered. In 1994, he starred as lovable hit man Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, a role written for him by director Quentin Tarantino Travolta came back revitalized, stronger than ever.
An avid pilot, Travolta said, "Flying gives me a sense of objectivity and extroversion." In 2010 he piloted his own Boeing 707 to Haiti and delivered much-needed relief supplies to hurricane victims.
"Every generation gets to improve on the dreams of the last generation," he said.
For more, season with age.