This is an entirely too sad way to kick off a Monday. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who did a double-take on this news, to make sure my eyes were reading the right name. People magazine is reporting this morning that Kelly Preston died yesterday at the age of 57, after a private two-year battle against breast cancer.
As mentioned above, the reason this is such a shock is because Kelly didn’t go public with her breast cancer diagnosis two years ago. Which might probably explain why John Travolta showed up to the Fanatic premiere last year without her. A spokesperson for their family released a statement to People, saying that Kelly had been receiving treatment at a cancer center in Texas since her diagnosis two years ago, which was something she wanted to keep to herself.
“Choosing to keep her fight private, she had been undergoing medical treatment for some time, supported by her closest family and friends. She was a bright, beautiful and loving soul who cared deeply about others and who brought life to everything she touched. Her family asks for your understanding of their need for privacy at this time.”
Kelly is survived by John, her second husband, who she was married to for nearly 30 years (she was previously married to actor Kevin Gage). She leaves behind two children: Ella Bleu Travolta, 20, and Benjamin Travolta, 10. Her oldest son, Jett Travolta, died in 2009 at the age of 16. Both John and Ella posted about Kelly’s passing on Instagram to acknowledge the love they had for their wife and mom, as well as a message from John thanking all her doctors and nurses.
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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
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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.❤️
Kelly was born in Hawaii as Kelly Kamalelehua Smith, and moved around a bunch as a kid. Eventually she took her stepdad’s last name and entered the entertainment industry as Kelly Preston in the early 1980s. Kelly dabbed a couple spots on her early 80s TV actress BINGO card with appearances on Hawaii Five-0 and CHiPs, before landing bigger roles in movies like SpaceCamp and Twins, which definitely checks off two 80s film BINGO boxes. Anyone who didn’t see SpaceCamp or Twins might have been familiar with Kelly’s name because she was engaged to Charlie Sheen at that time, and subsequently got pulled into a long-running rumor that Charlie had shot her in the arm (Charlie has denied he shot her, and Kelly later described Charlie as a good person). Kelly eventually met John Travolta on the set of The Experts, and started dating not long after, thus beginning their journey as Scientology’s version of The Heart Family. Kelly’s biggest role might perhaps have been as Jerry Maguire’s ex-fiancé Avery Bishop in Jerry Maguire.
That’s the role a lot of publications are leading with today, but I choose to focus on her excellent work as Sherry, Gwyneth Paltrow’s glamorous flight attendant mentor in View from the Top. Or as Swoozie Kurtz’s girlfriend Rachel in Citizen Ruth. She executed one of my favorite line readings in film in general (“Oh shit, a vigil“). And I think we can all agree that she’s the only person outside of a Trader Joe’s that could wear the hell out of a Hawaiian shirt like that.
Rest in peace, Kelly.