New book details how Scientology allegedly 'trapped' John Travolta
John Travolta has long credited Scientology for helping rocket him to fame, but a new book by New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright digs deeply into the subject. Going Clear, Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief discussed a church liaison assigned to the actor, how he became enamored with the religion in the 1970s and how they allegedly "trapped" him later in life.
According to excerpts in The Hollywood Reporter, the book details how Travolta met an actress named Joan Prather while shooting his first movie, The Devil's Rain, and how he took the Hubbard Qualified Scientologist Course at the Celebrity Centre in L.A. after shooting. Travolta apparently credits Scientologists for telepathically convincing ABC to hire him for Welcome Back, Kotter by pointing to the studios and thinking "We want John Travolta for the part."
Enter Sylvia "Spanky" Taylor, the Sea Org liaison who helped Travolta manage his newfound fame and became his friend. She apparently convinced Paramount Pictures to buy Travolta a bunch of auditing for his birthday, after which Travolta introduced Forest Whitaker, Tom Berenger, Patrick Swayze, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Priscilla Presley to Scientology -- Priscilla is the only one who stayed with it, however.
What followed was a tumultuous account of how, after various events largely unrelated to Travolta, Spanky was eventually punished by the church, which sent her to a disciplinary program called the Rehabilitation Project Force. She was no longer allowed to have contact with Travolta (in fact, Wright says her own infant was taken from her care by the church), leading Travolta to tell her "Unless you killed somebody, which I don’t think you did, there's no reason for you to be where you are."
Taylor was allegedly kept away from Travolta until the church felt his faith was wavering and they allowed her to contact him, although her access was later restricted again. Eventually Taylor thought if she could strengthen Travolta's ties to Scientology, she would be returned to the church's good graces. She eventually convinced him buy tons more auditing, because he had stopped the process after Operating Thetan III. The church had supposedly prepared a so-called Dead Agent pack against Travolta, meaning a file of information that could be used against him if he left the church.
L. Ron Hubbard himself allegedly sent Taylor a letter saying, "well done," and she asked Hubbard himself to review Travolta's auditing, called a Folder Error Summary. Travolta stopped talking to Taylor not long after, and she was declared a Suppressive Person -- a death sentence in the church, which would no longer acknowledge her in any way.
So did this Spanky Taylor seal John Travolta's status as a pre-eminent Scientologist? Looks that way. Tomorrow on The Juice*, we'll recount THR's excerpt about how the church drove a wedge between Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise.
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