John Travolta's family is in mourning again. Sam Travolta Jr., the Grease actor's nephew, died on Sept. 23, weeks after Travolta's wife Kelly Preston died after a secret battle with breast cancer. Sam was the son of Travolta's oldest brother, Sam Travolta Sr., and was 52. According to an obituary posted online, Sam died at his home in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.
Sam was born in Englewood, New Jersey, the same city where Travolta and his siblings were born. "He will be greatly missed, but he will always be with us," Sam's high school friend Nick Mavrostomos told The Sun on Oct. 21. "I found out through high school friends, they reached out to me to let me know." Mavrostomos said Sam was "definitely proud of being related" to Travolta and was "happy go lucky and a good friend, good-spirited."
Sam was a screenwriter and made headlines in 2015 when the National Enquirer interviewed him. At the time, he said he was living in a one-bedroom apartment and received a monthly $1,800 allowance from the Saturday Night Fever actor. Sam told the tabloid he left the Church of Scientology in 2007 and feared he was the target of a harassment campaign until 2012. "Scientology almost killed me," he claimed, calling the church's alleged activities "psychological warfare." Sam claimed he attempted suicide in January 2007. The church did not comment on Sam's interview, but Travolta's lawyer told the Enquirer the actor did not allow Scientology to persecute his nephew.
On July 13, Travolta announced Preston died following a battle with breast cancer, which she never discussed publicly. "Kelly’s love and life will always be remembered," Travolta wrote on Instagram at the time. "I will be taking some time to be there for my children who have lost their mother, so forgive me in advance if you don’t hear from us for a while. But please know that I will feel your outpouring of love in the weeks and months ahead as we heal."
Last month, Travolta shared a photo from their wedding on what would have been Preston's 58th birthday. "Happy Birthday hon! I found this photo of my mom and dad‘s wedding. It was nice to see ours alongside theirs," Travolta wrote. Travolta and Preston married in 1991 after meeting when making The Experts in 1987. The two are parents to daughter Ella, 20, and Benjamin, 9. Their son Jett died in 2009 at age 16 after suffering a seizure.