Whispers about John Travolta's sexuality that have blown through Hollywood for years are getting louder now that the actor was caught kissing another man here in Canada.
In photographs published in the newest issue of the National Enquirer, Travolta is seen planting a kiss on the lips of an unidentified man on the steps of his private plane at an airport in Hamilton, Ontario.
Travolta, 52, has been flying his Boeing 707 in and out of Hamilton as production gets underway in Toronto on the remake of Hairspray, in which he plays Edna Turnblad.
The tabloid noted that Travolta, whose left arm is on the man's back, got "up on one toe while puckering up with his pal."
While the kiss could be nothing but a friendly peck (Travolta is, after all, half Italian) the pictures are fueling longtime speculation about the star's sexual orientation.
Travolta waited until he was 37 to get married and become a father. Shortly after the Enquirer published claims by porn star Paul Barresi – who alleged he had a two-year affair with the actor – Travolta married actress and fellow Church of Scientology follower Kelly Preston. The couple has two children: Jett, 14, and Ella Bleu, 6.
Barresi, who reportedly received $100,000 (U.S.) from the tabloid, later retracted his story after discussions with Travolta's lawyer.
"I was having a nervous breakdown," Barresi told Jim D'Entremont of The Guide, a gay publication. "I just wanted it to be over. But when the dust settled, I regretted the retraction a lot more than I regretted that initial call to the Enquirer."
The allegations have not been limited to tabloids. In a 1991 cover story in Time entitled "Scientology: A Thriving Cult of Greed and Power," the magazine reported that, according to former Scientology security head Richard Aznaran, Church leader David Miscavige repeatedly joked about Travolta's alleged "promiscuous homosexual behavior."
In 1998, Travolta was named in a lawsuit from a gay man who claimed the Church of Scientology promised to "cure" him of his homosexuality and cited Travolta as a success story.
Michael Pattinson alleged he "reasonably relied upon" Travolta's marriage to Preston as proof that "Scientology processing and courses would 'handle' my own homosexuality."
Responding to the lawsuit, Travolta's lawyer Jay Lavely told the New York Daily News: "Travolta is a happily married man, which proves he isn't gay."
Only five years ago, a business executive alleged in Globe that Travolta made a pass at him in the sauna of Spectrum Club, a fitness gym in Valencia, California. (Travolta made several visits to the club while filming Swordfish nearby, it was independent confirmed.) Mark claimed he rebuffed the actor's alleged advances because he was chubby and "really hairy on his back, upper arms and chest."
Travolta is one of six children born to Salvatore and Helen Travolta in New Jersey. Showing an interest in musical theatre at an early age, Travolta was enrolled in a New York drama school. By the time he was 16, he was starring in a production of Bye Bye Birdie. Two years later, Travolta had a role in Grease on Broadway. This was followed by a part opposite the Andrew Sisters in Over Here on Broadway.
Travolta moved to Hollywood and landed a few minor roles in film and TV before he was asked, at 21, to play teenager Vinnie Barbarino on the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. The series lasted four seasons and made Travolta a star.
His movie career took off with leads in Saturday Night Fever, Grease and Urban Cowboy. In 1978's Moment by Moment, Travolta played a young man who falls in love with an older woman, played by Lily Tomlin – who has since come out as a lesbian.
For his role in Hairspray, Travolta has to dress as a woman. His character's husband is played by Christopher Walken. The film, which is shooting in Toronto through December, is due for release next summer.