Kelly Preston obituary: Actor best known for her role in Jerry Maguire

Preston, who was married to John Travolta, broke into film and television in the early 1980s

Kelly Preston died aged 57 on July 12th, 2020. Photograph: Franco Robichon/EPA

Kelly Preston died aged 57 on July 12th, 2020. Photograph: Franco Robichon/EPA

 

Born: October 13,1962
Died: July 12,2020

Kelly Preston, an actor best known for her role as a hardhearted fiancée of the Tom Cruise character in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire, died last weekend.She was 57.

Her husband, the actor John Travolta, said in an Instagram post on Monday that the cause was breast cancer. She had been treated for the cancer for two years, he said, something she had kept largely to herself.

Preston broke into film and television in the early 1980s. She aged into the types of cute-but-smart adult roles often identified with Meg Ryan. A breakthrough was the 1988 comedy Twins, where she played Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love interest.

In a 1988 interview with KVUE-TV in Austin, Texas, promoting Twins, Preston talked about filming dance scenes with Schwarzenegger, who was at that point known only for action roles like the title character in “Conan, the Barbarian.” The two worked with a choreographer on steps like the waltz — though not for the benefit of Preston, who had dance experience.

“Sometimes I thought I deserved hazard pay,” she said. “My toes were black and blue.” But, she added, “He can really dance well when it comes to, say, rock ’n’ roll and it’s just the two of you and your feet are nowhere near the soles of his feet.”

She met John Travolta in 1988 when they worked on the comedy The Experts, released the next year. They married in 1991. She had a cameo with Travolta in the 2000 sci-fi flop Battlefield Earth, and the couple worked together in the 2018 film Gotti, in which Travolta played the Mafia boss John Gotti and Preston his wife, Victoria Gotti.

Preston said that to help prepare for the role, she met Gotti, and the two ended up forming a relationship. “We sat there for hours, just talking and eating,” Preston said at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Vanity Fair reported. “I also had an email relationship with her, and she would tell me everything.”

Preston was born Kelly Kamalelehua Smith on October 13th , 1962, in Honolulu and grew up in Hawaii, although the family spent some time overseas, including a year in Iraq when she was five years old. In a 2018 interview with Us magazine called “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me,” Preston said, “When I was 17, I did a chocolate commercial for Japan with ‘the Japanese John Travolta.’”

In the interview, she also revealed that she had once met the actor Jack Lord in a supermarket in Hawaii and, in 1980, starred in an episode of the police drama Hawaii Five-O with him. It was her first television credit.

Most of Preston’s work was in film. Perhaps her best-known movie role came in Jerry Maguire, which featured Tom Cruise as a fast-talking sports agent who gains a conscience. She made “a brief but memorable appearance as Jerry’s shark of a fiancée from his big-shot days,” Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times in 1996.

When Jerry dumps her character, Avery, she flattens him with a flurry of blows. “I won’t let you hurt me, Jerry,” Avery says. “I’m too strong for you, loser.”

Preston’s marriage to the actor Kevin Gage in 1985 ended in divorce two years later. She was engaged for a time to the actor Charlie Sheen.

In addition to Travolta, she is survived by their children, Ella Bleu and Benjamin. Their eldest son, Jett died aged 16 in 2009 after having a seizure. – New York Times