John Travolta Tells The Real Story Behind His Dance With Princess Diana

Sarah Kester

A picture is worth a thousand words.

That's how people felt when they saw the sweet photo of Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta at the White House on Nov. 9, 1985.

Well, now John is adding words to that picture, as he has shared the story behind the dance with the late Diana, including how former first lady, Nancy Reagan, was involved.

John Travolta may not look like Cinderella, but he certainly lived a night straight out of a storybook life in 1985.

It all began when he got invited to the White House to meet Diana, John shared in a clip of the new PBS special, In Their Own Words: Diana, Princess of Wales.

"I went with a very humble attitude that I was an extra in a room of very important people,” Travolta explained.

There was a lot of fanfare surrounding this royal visit, as it marked Diana and Prince Charles's first joint visit to the United States. At the time, they had been married for four years.

They had also welcomed their second child, Prince Harry, a year prior.

Giphy | BBC

Much like Cinderella, John had a little help meeting the royal thanks to his fairy godmother. This was former first lady, Nancy Reagan.

"About 10 o'clock at night, Nancy Reagan tapped on my shoulder and said, 'The princess, her fantasy is to dance with you," John recalled.

He was the perfect man for the job, given his background of dancing.

And honestly, if you think he only danced in 'Grease', you are sorely mistaken.

Giphy | Hollywood Suite

Saturday Night Fever had come out in 1997, where he played the role of the disco dancer, Tony. Then, he had played the rebel Danny in 1978's Grease.

“And I said, ‘Well, of course. How does this work?'" he continued.

"And she said, ‘Well, at about midnight I’ll come and get you and then I’ll lead you over to her and then you ask her to dance.’”

Knowing what was coming got the celeb feeling nervous.

The 'Grease' star said that his heart began to race before he tapped Diana on the shoulder, as Nancy requested.

Which, I mean, can you blame the guy? He was about to make the ultimate move.


"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."

John got to utter the words that would make any guy jealous.

He said, 'Would you care to dance with me?' and she said 'Yes.'" When they moved to the dance floor of Cross Hall in the White House, John said that the whole room cleared.

"We danced for what felt like 15 minutes."


When the magical moment ended, Travolta recalled feeling like he was in a fairytale.

"It was a storybook moment."

"We bowed when it was over, and, you know, she was off, and I was off, and my carriage turned into a pumpkin," he shared with a laugh.


Thankfully, former chief official White House photographer Pete Souza, was there to capture every moment.

It made for some of the most iconic photos ever.

In the iconic series of photos, Travolta looked every bit dapper in a black suit while Diana was wearing her famous dark blue Victor Edelstein evening gown, accessorized with glamorous touches.

This included a sapphire, diamond, and pearl choker necklace and matching earrings.

Although she was bashful at first, that disappeared the moment she started dancing. A lot of this has to do with Diana's love of dancing.

This was shared in another sit-down for the PBS special.

Giphy | ladypat

"She loved dancing and she brought pure joy to everyone else by doing this..." said Debbie Frank, a close of friend of Diana's,

"For her to step out of people's expectations," she shared.


"She just had that capacity to think outside of the box and act on it."

In Their Own Words: Diana, Princess of Wales is out now.