John Travolta reveals details about his famous dance with Princess Diana

It was Nancy Reagan who orchestrated the whole thing, says the 'Grease' star

Princess Diana was wearing a Victor Edelstein gown when she danced with John Travolta at the White House in 1985
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John Travolta has revealed what happened the night of his famous dance with Princess Diana.

In a television special called In Their Own Words: Diana, Princess of Wales, the Pulp Fiction star explained that he was invited to attend a White House gala dinner on November 9, 1985, that was also attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Travolta said he felt he "was an extra in a room of very important people", and was nervous about accepting the invitation at all. He attended "with a very humble attitude," he said, knowing he would be surrounded by world leaders and royalty.

So, when the then-first lady Nancy Reagan suggested that Travolta ask the Princess of Wales to dance, he was taken aback.

"About 10 O'clock at night, Reagan tapped on my shoulder and said: 'The princess, her fantasy is to dance with you. Would you like to dance with her tonight?'" he explained. "And I said: 'Well of course.'"

Reagan then outlined how she would introduce him to the princess at midnight, and that would be his cue to invite her onto the dance floor.

Travolta explained how nervous he felt when approaching Princess Diana. "My heart starts to race, you know, and I tap her on the shoulder and she turns around and looks at me, and she had that kind of bashful dip [of her chin] that she did, and she looked up at me, and I said: 'Would you care to dance with me?', and she said, 'Yes.'"

Travolta said, “the whole room cleared" as he led her to the dance floor of Cross Hall in the White House. With the floor entirely to themselves, he said: "We danced for what felt like 15 minutes."

The images from their dance that evening are now famous. Princess Diana wore a floor-length ink-blue velvet Victor Edelstein gown, with a pearl and sapphire choker. Travolta wore a double breasted tuxedo.

Having made his name as an actor and dancer, Travolta has starred in various films that leaned on his dancing skills, including his breakout film, Saturday Night Fever (1977), Grease (1979), Staying Alive (1983) and Perfect (1985).

Travolta also said that the whole evening left him feeling like he was in a fairytale.

"It was a storybook moment,” he said. “We bowed when it was over, and, you know, she was off, and I was off, and my carriage turned into a pumpkin," he said with a laugh.

That same evening, the then 24-year-old princess also danced with a number of other Hollywood stars, including Clint Eastwood and Tom Selleck, as well as the former president Ronald Reagan.

The gown she wore sold at auction in 2013 for $362,424, a record sale at the time for one of Princess Diana's dresses.

Updated: August 12, 2021, 11:07 AM