John Travolta made his highly anticipated first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and it was a lively and entertaining interview. The talk show host welcomed Travolta with thunderous applause, acknowledging his success in starring in two of the biggest money-making films in history, Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Travolta handled the praise gracefully, even sharing a glowing review from tough critic Pauline Kael, who compared his acting to that of a young Marlon Brando.

The conversation with Carson covered a range of topics, including Travolta’s passion for flying. The actor revealed that he had recently obtained his pilot’s license and had fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a Jet Pilot. Although he couldn’t fly his own plane to the show due to air traffic restrictions, Travolta expressed his joy at achieving such a feat.

Carson delved into Travolta’s early acting aspirations, revealing that his family had a theatrical background, which inspired his own love for the performing arts. Travolta fondly reminisced about his first acting role in a high school play and the support he received from his parents, who were his biggest fans.

The conversation took an interesting turn when Carson mentioned Jimmy Cagney, whom Travolta idolized as a child. Travolta shared how he finally had the chance to meet Cagney, and their friendship had been instrumental in his career. Cagney, known for his down-to-earth approach, never saw himself as a Hollywood star and imparted that same attitude to Travolta.

Travolta also shared some humorous anecdotes, including how his mother would pretend to have Jimmy Cagney on the phone to get him to do chores. Despite his success, Travolta humbly admitted to dropping out of high school to pursue his acting career. He praised his parents for their support and understanding during that pivotal decision.

Carson and Travolta discussed fame and how it has changed Travolta’s life. While there are certain advantages, such as financial rewards, Travolta admitted that there are times when he can’t do things anonymously. However, he expressed that he has grown accustomed to the recognition and enjoys connecting with his fans through signing autographs.

The interview also touched on Travolta’s latest film, Blow Out, in which he plays a sound man who stumbles upon a political scandal. Travolta shared his enthusiasm for the movie and the collaboration with talented artists involved in its production.

As the interview came to a close, Carson jokingly exchanged autographs with Travolta, emphasizing the unique experience of fame for both celebrities. Travolta spoke about his pride in Blow Out and expressed a desire to maintain his level of success, possibly even venturing into directing in the future.

Overall, Travolta’s first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was a lively and engaging segment. The conversation covered a range of topics and showcased Travolta’s charisma and passion for his craft. The actor left viewers eagerly waiting to see what he would conquer next in his career.

Originally aired on August 6, 1981