During that time Travolta was offered, but declined, lead roles in what would become box-office hits, including American Gigolo In 1989, Travolta starred with Kirstie Alley in Look Who's Talking, which grossed 7 million making it his most successful film since Grease.

Next came Look Who's Talking Too (1990) and Look Who's Talking Now (1993) but it was not until he played Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino's hit Pulp Fiction (1994), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, that his career revived.

In 2000, Travolta starred in and co-produced the science fiction film Battlefield Earth, based on the novel of the same name by L.

Around the same time, he landed his star-making role as Vinnie Barbarino in the TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter (1975–1979), in which his sister, Ellen, also occasionally appeared (as Arnold Horshack's mother).

After Urban Cowboy, Travolta starred in a series of commercial and critical failures that sidelined his acting career.

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Throughout the 2000s, Travolta remained busy as an actor, starring in many films including Swordfish (2001), Ladder 49 (2004), Be Cool (2005), Lonely Hearts (2006), Wild Hogs (2007), the animated film Bolt (2008), in which Travolta voiced the title character, The Taking of Pelham 123 and Old Dogs (both 2009).

In 2007, Travolta played Edna Turnblad in the remake of Hairspray, his first musical since Grease. Travolta was in a relationship with actress Diana Hyland, whom he met while filming The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.

In 2010, he received the IIFA Award for Outstanding Achievement in International Cinema. Travolta moved across the Hudson River to New York City and landed a role in the touring company of the musical Grease and on Broadway in Over Here!

In 2016, Travolta received his first Primetime Emmy Award, as a producer of the first season of the anthology series American Crime Story, subtitled The People v. , singing the Sherman Brothers' song "Dream Drummin'".

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Travolta rose to fame during the 1970s, appearing on the television series Welcome Back, Kotter (1975–1979) and starring in the box office successes Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Grease (1978).