January 8, 2009 / 8:28 PM / 10 years ago

Travolta thanks fans, Jett memorial held

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A small, private memorial service was held on Thursday for John Travolta’s son Jett as the actor called the outpouring of love around the world “a beautiful reminder of the inherent goodness in the human spirit.”

Actor John Travolta is pictured with his son Jett (L) in this undated photograph, released January 4, 2009. Travolta broke a two-day silence over the death of 16-year-old Jett on Sunday, saying he and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, were "heartbroken" by their sudden loss. Jett, who had a history of seizures, was found unconscious in a bathroom at his family's home at the Old Bahama Bay resort on Grand Bahama Island on Friday morning January 2, 2009. REUTERS/Courtesy of the Travolta family/Rogers & Cowan

The service in Florida, where Travolta and his actress wife Kelly Preston have their main home, took place six days after Jett, 16, died of a seizure while on vacation in the Bahamas.

Jett had a history of seizures, according to the family. Travolta and Preston have said only that Jett suffered from the little-known Kawasaki syndrome when he was a toddler. But friends said he had developmental disabilities that meant he was not heard speaking.

“I observed that (Jett) was significantly mentally handicapped,” actress Anne Archer, a friend of Travolta was quoted as telling People magazine in its Friday edition.

“But it was very apparent with the two of them that they treated him as if he was a completely normal child...It was a kind of sweet exchange where (John) was just happy with anything that Jett offered,” Archer said.

Jett’s sudden death triggered a wave of condolences for the popular star of classic movies “Saturday Night Fever” and “Pulp Fiction.”

“We would like to extend or deepest and most heartfelt thanks to everyone who has sent their love and condolences,” Travolta said in a statement on his web site.

“”We have received many messages of condolence from around the world and we want to thank everyone for their prayers and support. It has meant so much to us. It is a beautiful reminder of the inherent goodness in the human spirit that gives us hope for a brighter future,” the actor said.

Jett, whose remains were cremated in the Bahamas earlier this week, was expected to be given a Scientology memorial in line with the belief that, while there is no heaven or hell, individuals live on as immortal spiritual beings.

Travolta and Preston are leading members of the Church of Scientology, which was founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1954.

Controversy has arisen over whether their Scientology beliefs affected their management of Jett’s medical condition, but supporters including singer Lisa Marie Presley deny this.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Cynthia Osterman

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