“Kelly Preston, wife of John Travolta, dead at 57.” This is a typical headline or header you might read in the wake of the Jerry Maguire actress Kelly Preston’s death. But Preston was much more than a famous movie star’s wife; she was a beautiful and talented actress in her own right, and she lit up the screen with many memorable performances.

The beloved performer has 72 acting credits on IMDb, and she gave everything to her family and to her career.

Kelly burst on the Hollywood scene in the 1983 horror classic Christine as a fresh-faced high-schooler enamored of the school jock. The young actress had a small part, yet her effervescent personality and onscreen presence shined like the star she would become.

Kelly met her future husband, John, on the set of the 1989 comedy film The Experts. Unfortunately, the light, fun, if not underwhelming comedy bombed at the box office, but the two young stars fell in love and eventually married in 1991. The Experts is a forgettable little romp, but Preston more than holds her own amongst a talented cast, and her sexy foxtrot with renowned dancer John Travolta is not to be missed. (Parental discretion advised!)

Kelly launched many an ‘80’s crush when she starred as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love interest in the 1988 movie Twins. The film went on to become a blockbuster and cemented Preston’s reputation as a bonafide Hollywood it girl. In fact, upon her death, Schwarzenegger tweeted about his friend and costar: “Kelly Preston was extraordinary. I was lucky enough to star with her and direct her, and her talent was off the charts. She had such a big heart, she was a wonderful wife and mother, and my thoughts are with John and the whole family.”

It is inarguable that Kelly absolutely crushed it in the 1996 romantic comedy-drama Jerry Maguire playing the unforgiving, uncompromising, no-holds-barred, emotionless corporate terminator Avery Bishop. The breakup with Tom Cruise’s Jerry Maguire is the stuff of legend. Talk about an iconic scene! In a film with so many classic bits, the breakup scene still stands out. And the ultimate beatdown of Jerry Maguire is too delicious for words. “I won’t let you hurt me Jerry, I’m too strong for you … loser.” 

Kelly proved to be particularly adept at lighthearted comedy throughout her career, and it was never more evident than in the mile-high farce A View from the Top. Along with Gwenyth Paltrow and Christina Applegate, Kelly owns the blond-bombshell-making-the-best-of-a-bad-situation character, and she has a hellava time doing so. 

And in Sam Raimi’s 1999 sports drama  Love for the Game, the ethereal actress steals the show as the loyal, stalwart, and soulful Jane Aubrey. Kevin Costner never had it so good!

Recently, Kelly had the pleasure of playing opposite her husband John in the 2018 biographical crime film Gotti. And she does a stellar job of capturing the mob boss’s pragmatic yet hysterical wife. Who knew Kelly Preston could play a sociopath with such facility?

“I love looking for different characters and challenging myself and trying out different roles,” Kelly once said. “It’s just fun to change it up; that’s what makes my job fun.”

The cause of Preston’s death was breast cancer. “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,” Travolta announced. “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.” 

Kelly is survived by her husband of 29 years and fellow actor, John Travolta, and their children Ella, 20, and Benjamin, 9.

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