Scientology Book Excerpt: 'The Church Had John Travolta Trapped' - 2013-01-09
This story first appeared in the Jan. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine
Before Tom Cruise, John Travolta was the biggest celebrity Scientologist, joining during the mid-'70s when he was on the cusp of fame. The Church assigned Sylvia "Spanky" Taylor, a young, vivacious Sea Org member, as his liaison. She became his friend and confidante, helping him deal with his breakout success in Welcome Back, Kotter (1975) and Saturday Night Fever (1977). Their friendship unraveled in 1977, when the Church sent Taylor to Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF), its disciplinary program, and took custody of her child for opposing its treatment of her mentor. Ultimately, Scientology officials forced her out of the Church, and Travolta ended their relationship as detailed by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lawrence Wright in this exclusive excerpt from his book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief.
Although in the book, Wright provides detailed notes on his sources and extensive research over the years, representatives for the Church declined to grant him interviews. Karin Pouw of the Church, in a statement to THR, said, "Of the 200 people [Wright] spoke with, only 9 were Scientologists. … Most of the remaining 200 were apostates, many who have shopped similar false claims to the gossip media for years." (Read Pouw's complete response here.) -- Andy Lewis