Seizures Claim another Celeb: Bruce Lee, Flo-Jo, and Now Travolta

Jett Travolta, the son of John Travolta and Kelly Preston, died earlier this week in the Bahamas.

by Joshua Silberstein


Jett Travolta, the 16-year-old son of actors John Travolta and Kelly Preston, died earlier this week while the family was vacationing in the Bahamas. Jett was found, unconscious, in a bathroom, and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead early Friday morning.

While the exact circumstances of his death remain unclear, Jett had suffered from seizures throughout his life, perhaps due to a rare immunological illness called Kawasaki Disease. But, because Scientology, the Travolta’s “religion,” doesn’t recognize the existence of certain illnesses, it’s unclear if there was ever an actual diagnosis.



While Jett’s parents seemed to know that he required constant medical care - the family brought two nannies on the current trip to provide him with 24/7 care, and there was a baby monitor next to him in the bathroom where he was found – they were unwilling to provide him with the medications that could have actually helped his condition.

The fact that this death may have been preventable makes it perhaps the most tragic celebrity death from a seizure, but it’s certainly not the only one. In 1998, Florence Griffith-Joyner, the Olympic athlete, died under what were initially considered suspicious circumstances. However, after the autopsy was completed, her death was ruled to be asphyxiation as a result of an epileptic seizure.

Bruce Lee’s death, which occurred in 1973, initially attracted a broad range of speculation. While the official cause of death was cerebral oedema, or brain swelling, the rumors about what caused the brain swelling flew far and wide. Some said that Bruce Lee died during sex with his mistress, Betty Ting Pei. Others said his death was the work of the Hong Kong triads, or an “overexposure” to certain painkillers.


However, many doctors now believe that Bruce Lee’s true cause of death was SUDEP – sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. Because SUDEP had not been recognized as a diagnosis in 1973 (it was recognized in 1995), it clearly wasn’t an option that was considered. But his symptoms and medical history fit perfectly with this diagnosis, making it likely that an epileptic seizure was what killed him.

The death of a child is always a tragedy, and our hearts go out to the Travolta family.

Related Links:

The Largest Epilepsy Video Library On-Line – from HealthGuru

Kawasaki Disease – from Wikipedia

John Travolta – from IMDB