Born Kelly Smith in Hawaii, the late Kelly Preston experienced tragedy at an early age. Her biological father died when she was just three years old in a reported drowning (via Empire). She was adopted by her mother’s second husband and became Kelly Palzis. After moving to Hollywood to pursue her acting dreams, however, she found her new surname was a bit difficult to pronounce. “I was just sick of it. I was doing a little part in this movie Christine years ago, a John Carpenter film, and sitting around the set with a bunch of actors,” she recalled to interviewer Yu Shing Ting. “I just said, ‘So I’m going to change my name. I’m going to keep my initials and change my last name. What do you think?’ We all thought of about eight or 10 names, Preston was one of them and I said — that’s it!”
Unfortunatly, the new name and new location wasn’t enough for Kelly Preston to fully leave tragedy behind. Although she enjoyed big-screen fame in hits like Twins and Jerry McGuire, and enjoyed a nearly 30-year marriage with her teenage crush John Travolta, the bubbly star suffered through things most of us couldn’t even imagine. Here are a few tragic details about Kelly Preston.
Did Charlie Sheen really shoot Kelly Preston?
Before her marriage to John Travolta, Kelly Preston had a few leading men in her life. She had what Mirror described as an “intense love affair” with George Clooney in the late ’80s before moving on to Charlie Sheen. The pair was briefly engaged, but the relationship ended suddenly. Why? Speculation for a long time was that Sheen accidentally shot Preston in the arm.
According to Newsweek, Preston received stitches after the incident and sold her engagement ring. The details about exactly what happened plagued Preston for two decades since both she and Sheen never spoke publicly about the alleged shooting. But in a now-deleted video, Preston laughed off the incident to TMZ in 2011 explaining that the whole thing was “a complete accident.” In 2016, Sheen told his version of the story — that Preston injured herself when she accidentally fired his gun.
Sheen told a crowd in Vancouver during his My Violent Torpedo of Truth tour (via Newsweek) that he was making coffee in the kitchen when he “heard a f*****g gunshot go off” in the upstairs bathroom. “I thought, ‘She did it, she finally f*****g did it. She killed herself and they’re going to f*****g blame me.'” According to Sheen, Preston moved his pants and his “revolver” fell out a pocket and “shot a bullet right between her legs” and she was “hit with shrapnel from the toilet bowl.”
Kelly Preston lost her firstborn son
It is always heartbreaking when a parent outlives their child. Unfortunately, Kelly Preston and John Travolta knew that pain all too well, because on Jan. 2, 2009, her 16-year old son Jett Travolta (pictured above right) died while the family was on vacation in the Bahamas. According to People, Jett was found by his caretaker after suffering a seizure in the bathtub and hitting his head. He was pronounced dead at Rand Memorial Hospital.
Jett had a history of seizures, and in a 2002 interview with Montel Williams, Kelly revealed that Jett was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease when he was 15 months old. “Jett’s whole immune system shut down, and he got really sick with high fevers, 104 and 105,” she said of her firstborn son. (via E! Online). “I kept taking him into the doctor and they didn’t know what was wrong with him. He developed a rash on his body, swollen lymph glands — it was horrible.”
But despite the tragedy of Jett’s passing, Kelly willed her way to continue living. “I’ve had enormous loss. Nobody should have to lose a child. It’s unfathomable,” she said on The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet, adding, “But I’m here to say that you can get through it. You can live again. You can want to live again.”
John Travolta and Kelly Preston were the victims of an alleged extortion plot
Losing your child is bad enough, but John Travolta alleged that two Bahamian paramedics allegedly attempted to extort money from him and Kelly Preston by leaking a document to the media that reportedly stated Travolta refused to transport Jett to the hospital. In the trial, per ABC News, Travolta testified that the medic accused of blackmailing him was “allegedly threatening to say that Travolta was at fault in his son Jett’s death.”
The outlet reported that Travolta was “notified by his bodyguard and his attorney that someone was demanding $25 million” and that the document would be “sold to the press” if Travolta didn’t pay. ABC News also reported that the case marked the first time Travolta publicly admitted Jett had autism. After the first trial ended in a mistrial, the Travoltas dropped the case because they no longer wanted to “face the pain of a new trial.” The judge then dismissed the charges against the two defendants.
“The long-pending status of this matter continued to take a heavy emotional toll on my family, causing us to conclude that it was finally time to put this matter behind us,” Travolta wrote in a statement. “Therefore, after much reflection, I concluded that it was in my family’s best interest for me not to voluntarily return to The Bahamas to testify a second time at trial.”
Kelly Preston's long health struggle
Kelly Preston’s sudden death at the age of 57 came as a complete shock to the world. In a statement to People, a family rep revealed that unbeknownst to anyone outside her inner circle, Preston had been fighting breast cancer for two years. “Choosing to keep her fight private, she had been undergoing medical treatment for some time, supported by her closest family and friends,” the rep said, adding, “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.”
John Travolta also confirmed his wife’s diagnosis in a heartfelt Instagram post. “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,” he captioned the photo of Preston. The actor went on to thank Preston’s “doctors and nurses at MD Anderson Cancer Center,” and added, “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.
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