You might think that ballroom dances between a charming prince and a beautiful princess are just the same as animated Disney movies. But John Travolta lived that experience off-screen about 35 years ago, when he cut a rug with Princess Diana at a White House dinner in November 1985. At the time Princess Diana was still a new addition to the British royal family, having married Prince Charles four years earlier. The two were on a tour of the United States and then-first lady Nancy Reagan organized an event in her honour. Travolta, meanwhile, had graduated from the scene back on the sitcom Thief Status, becoming a big-screen superstar thanks to hits like Kotter and Saturday Night Fever and Oil, both of which cost him America Established as the leading dance heartthrob.
It’s no wonder that the first lady decided to pair the two at the White House… although she didn’t prepare Travolta for his role. “I didn’t know until I got there that I was supposed to dance with her,” the actor reveals to Yahoo Entertainment. “[Princess Diana] kept that a secret when she met me. She didn’t know that Nancy Reagan hadn’t told me yet that this was the plan — that I was the Prince Charming of the evening.” (Watch our video interview above.)
Of course, Travolta would never think of turning down the first lady … Or a princess for that matter. Taking the dance floor her nerves initially got the better of him as images of Diana dancing with Charles at her wedding flooded her mind. He now admits, “I was speechless with him.” That’s the way he led, and I thought: ‘Well, that’s not going to happen! I go back to my school days learning Bollywood dance and discover that I can lead it.
Thinking back to that night some three decades later, Travolta has little to do with what he and Diana had to talk about — a subject they had discussed — Clint Eastwood — and the charisma of his dance partner Brought about more in every room. She also has near-perfect recall of the black velvet dress she wore — a dress that, as it happens, is currently up for auction courtesy of London-based Kerry Taylor Auction. Diana’s costume is the boutique ensemble, which is on display for viewing on December 6 and 8, with a bid scheduled for December 9 to be included among a “passion for fashion” collection. Travolta wistfully recalls, “It fits him beautifully.” I could probably sketch it in my mind because it was so specific. “
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