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Kelly Preston
File:Kelly Preston Cannes 2018.jpg
Preston at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival
Kelly Kamalelehua Smith

(1962-10-13)October 13, 1962
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
DiedJuly 12, 2020(2020-07-12) (aged 57)
Clearwater, Florida, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Southern California
  • Actress
  • model
Years active1980–2020
  • Kevin Gage
    (m. 1985; div. 1987)
  • (m. 1991)
Children3 (1 deceased)

Kelly Kamalelehua Smith (October 13, 1962 – July 12, 2020), known professionally as Kelly Preston, was an American actress and model. She appeared in more than 60 television and film productions, including Mischief (1985), Twins (1988), Jerry Maguire (1996), and For Love of the Game (1999). She married John Travolta in 1991, with whom she collaborated on the comedy film The Experts (1989) and the biographical film Gotti (2018). She also starred in the films SpaceCamp (1986), The Cat in the Hat (2003), What a Girl Wants (2003), Sky High (2005), and Old Dogs (2009).

Early years[]

Kelly Kamalelehua Smith[1][2] (the middle name "Kamalelehua" means "garden of lehuas" in Hawaiian)[3][4] was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her mother, Linda, was an administrator of a mental health center. Her father, who worked for an agricultural firm, drowned when she was three years old.[5][6][7] Her mother subsequently married Peter Palzis, a personnel director. He adopted her, and she used his name at the start of her acting career.[8] She also had a younger half-brother, Chris Palzis.[8]

As a child, she lived in Iraq,[9] and also Australia,[10] where she attended Pembroke School, Adelaide. She then attended Punahou School in Honolulu, graduating in 1980,[11] and studied drama and theater at the University of Southern California.[12]


While living in Australia, she was discovered at age 16 by a fashion photographer who helped her get work in commercials and other small parts.[8] He arranged her first film audition for the role of Emmeline in The Blue Lagoon (1980), which she lost to the younger Brooke Shields.[13] At that time she changed her last name to Preston.[14]

Her first prominent film roles came in 1985—first as Marilyn McCauley in romantic comedy teen flick Mischief; then as the beautiful but shallow Deborah Ann Fimple in another teen romantic comedy, Secret Admirer. Her other roles included SpaceCamp (1986), Twins[15] (1988) with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, Avery Bishop in Jerry Maguire (1996) with Tom Cruise, Jane Aubrey in For Love of the Game with Kevin Costner and Kate Newell, and in Holy Man (1998) with Eddie Murphy and Jeff Goldblum. In 1997, she starred in Nothing to Lose, which co-starred Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence. She also starred in the movie Jack Frost (1998).

She played the girlfriend of her husband John Travolta's character Terl in the film Battlefield Earth,[16] for which she received "Worst Supporting Actress" at the 21st Golden Raspberry Awards.[17] She appeared as the protagonist's flying, superhero mother in the film Sky High (2005).[18]

File:Kelly Preston Navy 2005 (cropped).jpg

Preston in 2005

In 2004, she was in the Maroon 5 music video "She Will Be Loved", which featured a love triangle and romantic scenes between her and Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine. She appeared in the crime thriller Death Sentence (2007), in which she played Helen Hume, the wife of Kevin Bacon's character Nick. In 2008, she was cast in a television pilot called Suburban Shootout,[19] and had a short term recurring role in Medium.[19]

She starred in the Lifetime television film The Tenth Circle (2008), directed by Peter Markle. It was shot in Nova Scotia and featured Ron Eldard, Britt Robertson, Michael Riley, Jamie Johnston and Geordie Brown.[20]

She was a spokeswoman for Neutrogena, appearing in its print and television ads.[21][22]

Her final red carpet appearance came at the New York City premiere of her husband's motion picture Gotti in 2018.[23]

Her final film role was in the comedy-drama Off the Rails, which was released in late July 2021 in the UK.

Personal life[]

Preston was married to actor Kevin Gage from 1985 until their divorce in 1987.[24] She also had a relationship with George Clooney in the late 1980s.[24][8] She was briefly engaged to Charlie Sheen in 1990,[8][25] but ended the relationship shortly after he allegedly shot her in the arm.[25][26] In a 2011 interview with TMZ, Preston said that Sheen did not shoot her.[27]

Preston met John Travolta in 1987 while filming The Experts.[28] They married in 1991, traveling to Paris on an Air France Concorde for a wedding ceremony at the Hotel de Crillon (on the Place de la Concorde) on September 5, 1991. However, a second ceremony was required because the first, performed by a French Scientology minister (both Preston and Travolta were Scientologists), was considered invalid. The second ceremony took place on September 12 in Daytona Beach, Florida.[29] Preston and Travolta had three children: son Jett, daughter Ella Bleu,[30] and a second son, Benjamin.[31] Preston remained a Scientologist until her death.[32]

Death of Jett Travolta[]

Preston's son Jett Travolta was described as suffering from Kawasaki disease as an infant and had a history of seizures.[33][34] In 2003, Preston appeared on The Montel Williams Show to promote L. Ron Hubbard's Purification Rundown, which she credited with helping her son.[35]

On January 2, 2009, Jett Travolta died while the family was vacationing in the Bahamas.[36][37] His death was attributed to a seizure.[38] In September 2009, Travolta and Preston confirmed longstanding speculations when they testified that their son had autism and suffered regular seizures. This transpired during their testimony at the trial resulting from an extortion attempt related to their son's death.[39]

On January 23, 2009, three people were arrested in the Bahamas in connection with a multimillion-dollar extortion plot against Travolta and Preston concerning the circumstances of their son's death.[40] One of the men, Obie Wilchcombe, a member of the Bahamian Parliament and former Bahamian Minister of Tourism, was described as a "close friend" of Travolta and Preston.[40] Two others allegedly involved were an EMT named Tarino Lightbourne and a Bahamian senator named Pleasant Bridgewater. Bridgewater was charged with abetment to extort and conspiracy to extort and resigned from the Senate as a result of the allegations.[40][41] The first trial ended in a mistrial. After a second jury had been selected, the Travoltas elected to drop the case and all charges against the defendants were dismissed.[42]


On July 12, 2020, Preston died at the age of 57 at her home in Clearwater, Florida,[43] two years after she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.[44][45][46][47] Her diagnosis was not widely publicized.[44] Preston had been receiving treatment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas; she had also been treated at other medical centers.[48][49] Her death was announced in an Instagram post under an account belonging to John Travolta and Ella Bleu.[50]



Year Title Role Notes
1983 10 to Midnight Doreen [51]
Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn Dhyana [18]
Christine Roseanne [18]
1985 Mischief Marilyn McCauley [18]
Secret Admirer Deborah Anne Fimple [18]
1986 SpaceCamp Tish Ambrosé [18]
52 Pick-Up Cynthia 'Cini' Frazier [18]
1987 Love at Stake Sara Lee [51]
A Tiger's Tale Shirley Butts [18]
Amazon Women on the Moon Violet Segment: "Titan Man"[18]
1988 Spellbinder Miranda Reed [18]
Twins Marnie Mason [18]
1989 The Experts Bonnie [18]
1991 Run Karen Landers [18]
1992 Only You Amanda Hughes [18]
1994 Double Cross Vera Blanchard Video[18]
Love Is a Gun Jean Starr [18]
1995 Mrs. Munck Young Rose Munck [18]
Waiting to Exhale Kathleen Uncredited cameo[52]
1996 Citizen Ruth Rachel [18]
From Dusk till Dawn Kelly Houge, Newscaster [18]
Curdled Kelly Hogue [18]
Jerry Maguire Avery Bishop [18]
1997 Addicted to Love Linda [18]
Nothing to Lose Ann Beam [18]
1998 Holy Man Kate Newell [18]
Welcome to Hollywood Herself Documentary film
Junket Whore Documentary film
Jack Frost Gabby Frost [18]
1999 For Love of the Game Jane Aubrey [18]
2000 Battlefield Earth Chirk [18]
2001 Daddy and Them Rose [18]
2003 View from the Top Sherry [18]
What a Girl Wants Libby Reynolds [18]
The Cat in the Hat Joan Walden [18]
2004 Eulogy Lucy Collins [18]
Return to Sender Susan Kennan [53]
2005 Sky High Josie Stronghold / Jetstream [18]
2006 Broken Bridges Angela Delton [18]
2007 Death Sentence Helen Hume [18]
2008 Struck Trista Short film[53]
2009 Old Dogs Vicki Greer [18]
2010 The Last Song Kim Miller [18]
Casino Jack Pam Abramoff [18]
2018 Gotti Victoria Gotti [51]
2021 Off the Rails Cassie Posthumous release[54]


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1980 Hawaii Five-O Wendy Episode: "For Old Times Sake" [55]
1982 Capitol Gillian McCandless Episode: "Pilot"
1983 Quincy M.E. Ginger Reeves Episode: "On Dying High"
The Renegades Lisa Primus Episode: "Back to School"
CHiPs Anna Episode: "Things That Go Creep in the Night" [55]
1983–1984 For Love and Honor Mary Lee Regular role (12 episodes) [18]
1984 Riptide Sherry Meyers Episode: "The Hardcase"
Blue Thunder Amy Braddock Episode: "The Long Flight" [18]
1990 Tales from the Crypt Linda Episode: "The Switch" [53]
1991 The Perfect Bride Laura Television film
1993 The American Clock Diana Marley Television film
1994 Cheyenne Warrior Rebecca Carver Television film
1996 Little Surprises Ginger Short
2000 Bar Hopping Bebe Television film
2001 Fear Factor Herself Episode: "First Celebrity Fear Factor" [18]
2004 Joey Donna Di Gregorio Episodes: "Joey and the Dream Girl: Parts 1 & 2" [18]
2005 Fat Actress Quinn Taylor Scott Recurring role (4 episodes) [18]
2006 Legends Ball Herself Television documentary film
2008 Medium Meghan Doyle Recurring role (4 episodes) [18]
The Tenth Circle Laura Stone Television film [18]
2010 Kirstie Alley's Big Life Herself Episode: "Oh Rats! It's My Birthday!"
2016 CSI: Cyber Greer Latimore Recurring role (3 episodes) [18]


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2013 The Stafford Project Tabitha Episode: "White Secret" [56]

Music videos[]

Year Title Artist Role Ref.
2004 "She Will Be Loved" Maroon 5 Socialite / Mother [57][58]

Awards and nominations[]

Year Award Category Production Result
2001 Golden Raspberry Award Worst Supporting Actress Battlefield Earth Won[59]
2010 Old Dogs Nominated


2019 Gotti Nominated


Worst Screen Combo Nominated



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  2. "Ten Celebrities That Hail From Hawaii". Archived from the original on February 16, 2017. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  3. Riggs, Thomas (2005). Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. 59. Gale Biographies. p. 259.
  4. Seal, Mark (2007). Celebrated Weekends: The Stars' Guide to the most exciting destinations in the world. Rutledge Hill Press. p. 53.
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  14. Kelly Preston Vitals Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine at Ask
  15. "Interview with Kelly Preston (1988)". Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Archived from the original on December 29, 2015. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  16. Graham, Bob (January 19, 2001). "Travolta's Demolition Derby: Comic-book nuttiness lifts 'Battlefield Earth'". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2008.
  17. Grant, John (2006). Sci-Fi Movies: Facts, Figures & Fun. Sterling Publishing Company. p. 87. ISBN 1-904332-35-8.
  18. 18.00 18.01 18.02 18.03 18.04 18.05 18.06 18.07 18.08 18.09 18.10 18.11 18.12 18.13 18.14 18.15 18.16 18.17 18.18 18.19 18.20 18.21 18.22 18.23 18.24 18.25 18.26 18.27 18.28 18.29 18.30 18.31 18.32 18.33 18.34 18.35 18.36 18.37 18.38 18.39 18.40 18.41 18.42 18.43 18.44 18.45 "Kelly Preston List of Movies and TV Shows". TV Guide. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Trechak, Brad (May 16, 2008). "Kelly Preston in new HBO series". TV Squad. Retrieved June 12, 2008.
  20. "The Tenth Circle". IMDb. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  21. "Neutrogena picks new face". United Press International. January 19, 2005. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  22. "Kelly Preston Fronts Neutrogena". January 20, 2005. Monsters and Critics.
  23. Ushe, Naledi (July 14, 2020). "How Kelly Preston spent her final years while privately battling cancer: The actress dedicated a lot of time to her family". Fox News. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Cho, Diane J. (July 13, 2020). "Inside John Travolta & Kelly Preston's 28-Year Love Story". People. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Faber, Judy (August 24, 2006). "Charlie Sheen". CBS. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  26. "Charlie Sheen Biography" Archived March 22, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Biography Channel website. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  27. "Kelly Preston – Charlie Sheen DID NOT Shoot Me!". TMZ. May 6, 2011.
  28. Stritof, Sheri & Bob. "Kelly Preston and John Travolta Marriage Profile". Marriage. Archived from the original on June 16, 2009. Retrieved January 4, 2009.
  29. "John Travolta Biography". Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
  30. "John Travolta Celebrates 'Most Beautiful' Daughter Ella on Her 21st Birthday: 'Your Dad Adores You!'". People. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  31. "John Travolta and Kelly Preston Welcome Son Benjamin". People. November 24, 2010. Archived from the original on November 29, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  32. "Turning To Faith During Cancer Treatment – How Do Scientologists Like Kelly Preston And John Travolta Handle Cancer Treatment?". SurvivorNet. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  33. "John Travolta's 16-Year-Old Son Dies". People. January 2, 2009. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  34. Errico, Marcus (January 2, 2009). "John Travolta's Son Jett Dead at 16". E! Online. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  35. Wright, Lawrence (2013). Going Clear. Knopf. p. 162. ISBN 9780307700667.
  36. "Jett Travolta, son of actors, dies at 16". CNN. January 2, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  37. "John Travolta's teenage son dies". BBC News. BBC. January 2, 2009. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  38. Marikar, Sheila; Childs, Dan; Chitale, Radha (January 5, 2009). "Death Certificate: John Travolta's Son Died of a Seizure". ABC News. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
  39. Abraham, Mary Rose (September 23, 2009). "From John Travolta: I Ran Down the Stairs To Help My Son". ABC News. Retrieved September 23, 2009.
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 Harlow, John (January 25, 2009). "Senator 'tried to extort cash' from Travolta over son's death". The Sunday Times. UK. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  41. "Travolta Suspect Resigns". January 24, 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  42. Roberts, Soraya. "John Travolta drops extortion plot case against Tarino Lightbourne, Pleasant Bridgwater". Daily News. New York. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  43. Roberto, Melissa (August 19, 2020). "Kelly Preston's death certificate reveals she died at Florida home: report". Fox News.
  44. 44.0 44.1 Leonard, Elizabeth; Mizoguchi, Karen (July 13, 2020). "Kelly Preston Dies of Breast Cancer at 57: 'She Was a Bright, Beautiful and Loving Soul'". People. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  45. Seemayer, Zach (July 12, 2020). "Kelly Preston, Actress and Wife of John Travolta, Dead at 57". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  46. "Actress Kelly Preston dies at 57 after battle with breast cancer". ABC13. Associated Press. July 14, 2020. Archived from the original on July 13, 2020. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  47. Ramzy, Austin (July 13, 2020). "Kelly Preston, 'Jerry Maguire' Star, Dies at 57". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on July 17, 2020. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  48. de Luna, Marcy (July 13, 2020). "John Travolta thanks Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center, where Kelly Preston was treated". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  49. Fernandez, Alexia (July 16, 2020). "Kelly Preston's Half-Brother Says Their Family Is 'Gutted' Over Her Death: 'She Was a Warrior'". People. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  50. Woerner, Meredith; Saperstein, Pat (July 12, 2020). "Kelly Preston, Actress in 'Mischief,' 'Jerry Maguire,' Dies at 57". Variety.
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  52. Pais, Matt. "Q&A: 'Jumping the Broom' star Angela Bassett on filming slap-fights and how to get your groove back". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
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  54. Grater, Tom. "Kelly Preston, Jenny Seagrove, Sally Phillips to star in UK interrailing comedy-drama 'Off The Rails' (exclusive)". Screen. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  55. 55.0 55.1 Gawley, Paige. "Inside Kelly Preston's Decades-Long Acting Career and Her Best Roles". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
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  57. "Maroon 5 – She Will Be Loved (Official Music Video)". Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved November 26, 2018 – via YouTube.
  58. Govan, Chloé (2013). Maroon 5: Shooting For the Stars. Omnibus Press. p. 141. ISBN 9781783230037.
  59. "Razzies Name Year's Worst Films". ABC News. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  60. Leopold, Todd. "'Transformers,' 'Lost' lead worst movie nominees". CNN. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  61. 61.0 61.1 "2019 Razzie Awards nominations: Full list of Razzie nominees in all 9 categories 'honoring' the worst movies of the year". Gold Derby. January 21, 2019. Retrieved July 13, 2020.

External links[]