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Image / Editorial

Actress Kelly Preston dies at 57 after two-year fight with breast cancer

by Jennifer McShane
13th Jul 2020

Described as a “soul of likeability” on screen, the Jerry Maguire actress passed away after a two-year fight with breast cancer. She leaves behind two children and her husband, John Travolta whom she had been married to for almost 30 years. She was 57 years old 

Kelly Preston, the actress who starred in such movies as Jerry Maguire, SpaceCamp, For Love of the Game, and, most recently, opposite her husband in Gotti, has died.

Preston and Travolta, met while filming The Experts, celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary last year. They had three children together: daughter Ella, who is 20; son Benjamin, who is 9; and son Jett, who sadly died in 2009 at age 16.

Preston died Sunday after a two-year battle with breast cancer, the diagnosis of which was kept private. Travolta wrote on Instagram, paying tribute to his wife of almost three decades, and the medical staff who cared for her.

“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,” he wrote. “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. 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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A post shared by John Travolta (@johntravolta) on

Representatives for the family told People she had chosen to keep her diagnosis private.

“Choosing to keep her fight private, she had been undergoing medical treatment for some time, supported by her closest family and friends,” the statement said. “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.”

She disappeared seamlessly into many roles, but her comic timing and showcase fury are perfectly pitched in Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire. 

‘I won’t let you hurt me, Jerry. I’m too strong for you. LOSER!” she proudly proclaims after punching Tom Cruise’s character hard in the face.

It’s a role that, as pointed out by Variety, should have opened more doors for Preston, but the limelight lingered more strongly on then-newbie Reneé Zellweger which perhaps explained why it did not.

There were a variety of roles from 1986’s SpaceCamp, 1988’s Twins, 1998’s Jack Frost, 1999’s For Love of the Game, and 2003’s View From the Top and The Cat in the Hat and she remained a scene-stealer even in smaller roles; in Maroon 5’s She Will Be Loved, it was a relief to see the camera stay with Preston as opposed to her model daughter.

She starred opposite Travolta in several films, including 1989’s The Experts, 2000’s Battlefield Earth and 2009’s Old Dogs. Her last screen credit is upcoming comedy Off the Rails.

Her daughter Ella also paid tribute to her mother on Instagram, saying: “Anyone who is lucky enough to have known you or to have ever been in your presence will agree that you have a glow and a light that never ceases to shine and that makes anyone around you feel instantly happy. Thank you for being there for me no matter what.”

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