The Portraits

Staff member working in collections and putting a painting away

John Travolta

Douglas Kirkland, born 1934
John Travolta, born 18 Feb 1954
Color photograph on paper
Image: 49.5 x 30.3 cm (19 1/2 x 11 15/16")
Mat (TBC): 55.9 x 40.6 cm (22 x 16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Douglas Kirkland
Object number
John Travolta: American\Irish American
John Travolta: American\Italian American
Exhibition Label
Born Englewood, New Jersey
In 1977 John Travolta helped launch the disco craze with his Academy Award–winning performance in Saturday Night Fever. He played Tony Manero, a young Italian American whose fantasy life flourished at a local Brooklyn discotheque. The disco was his outlet for an otherwise dead-end life: when Tony put on his white suit and hit the floor, his dancing ruled the night.
Saturday Night Fever was the first film since Cabaret (1972) to showcase dance, and the soundtrack by the Bee Gees became one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time.
The dancing of the disco era fueled social dancing and club-going throughout the 1970s, perhaps most notably at New York’s Studio 54, which from 1977 to 1981 was frequented by such celebrities as Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol, and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection