John Travolta was "awestruck" by the royal and he calls that evening at the White House one of the highlights of his life.
John Travolta has played many iconic roles in the 1980s. But for him, the highlight of this entire decade was his meeting with Princess Diana and the evening they spent at the White House in 1985. He was asked by ABC News if there was a moment in the 1980s about which he was nostalgic, and instead of picking any movie or song, he said he wants to revisit the moment he danced with the People's Princess.
"Yes, I danced with Princess Diana in 1986, I believe," he explained. "That was one of the highlights of my life, so that’s probably the best moment of the eighties." The actor, who remembered the wrong year that the event happened, was part of that White House event in the previous year during President Reagan’s White House gala.
The moment has stayed with him for the rest of his life. But, on the day it happened, he was caught unawares. "I didn’t know until I got there that I was supposed to dance with her," he told Yahoo Entertainment. He continued, "[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."
And, what an iconic moment it was. In photos, the Grease actor can be seen whisking a svelte Diana on the dance floor. The princess wore her iconic and gorgeous Victor Edelstein gown, which was auctioned much later in time at the Kerry Taylor Auctions event "Passion for Fashion" on December 9, 2019. Even though he was a successful Hollywood actor full of charm, he was apprehensive of dancing with the royal lady.
"I didn’t know or expect to dance with Princess Diana, and it was the president’s wife, Nancy Reagan, that said, 'It is her wish.' At midnight, I had to tap her on her shoulder, and I had to say, 'Would you care to dance.' She turned around and dipped her head in that Lady Diana way and we were off for 15 minutes dancing. I’ll never forget it. I’m so honored that I was able to experience it, and I know for a fact that it was a highlight of being in the United States; it was her favorite moment. So I feel I made her life better; she made my life better; and I’m very sorry that she’s not here," he said, as per Vanity Fair.
The actor told the Telegraph that he wasn't nervous "because I’d seen her dance with [Prince] Charles beforehand so I knew that she was strong. But she looked like she was leading [him] and because I knew that the world was watching I thought that I really needed to give her certainty that I knew what to do. I put my hand in the middle of her back, brought her hand down so that it wouldn’t be so high and gave her the confidence that we would do just fine."
And, she did lead the way, being an expert dancer herself. Diana's love for ballet has been recorded over the course of her life. She continued to learn the dance form even though her height didn't permit her to be a professional ballet dancer.
The Face-Off actor was quoted by Yahoo Entertainment as saying, "I was awestruck with her... She led the way, and I thought, 'Well, that’s not going to happen! I’ve got to go back to my school days of learning ballroom dancing and show that I can lead her.'"
He even had something sweet to say about the beautiful gown she that adorned her. Travolta said, "It fit her beautifully... I could probably sketch it in my mind because it was so specific."
And, he is not the only actor to be awestruck by royalty while dancing with them. British actress Emma Thompson once told Vanity Fair that dancing with her friend Prince Charles is "better than sex." Thompson added, "There’s a long history of relationships between Princes of Wales and actors—not just actresses, not just the rude relationships as [Charles] would say, though god knows I’ve tried. He wasn’t having any of it."