January 9, 2009 / 1:29 AM / 10 years ago

Private memorial service held for Jett Travolta

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Friends and family of John Travolta held a private memorial service on Thursday for the actor’s son, Jett, whose sudden death last week brought an outpouring of grief from fans.

Jett Travolta is pictured in this undated photograph, released December 4, 2009. Actor John Travolta broke a two-day silence over the death of his 16-year-old son 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. REUTERS/Courtesy of the Travolta family/Rogers & Cowan

The service took place at the Florida home of Travolta and his actress wife, Kelly Preston. Security staff outside the residence kept the media at bay and details were scarce.

The sudden death of Jett Travolta, 16, who passed away after a seizure six days ago while on vacation in the Bahamas, triggered a wave of condolences from fans of John Travolta, the popular star of “Saturday Night Fever” and “Pulp Fiction.”

On Thursday, actor Tom Cruise discussed the family’s loss. Like Travolta and Preston, Cruise is a member of the Church of Scientology.

“It’s horrific,” Cruise said in an interview for “The View” television show, which taped on Thursday. “It’s just horrific. Here you have a man, both of them doting parents, they’re wonderful people and...” His voice trailed off before finishing the sentence.

At the time of his death, a statement issued by the family said Jett had a history of seizures, but prior to that Travolta and Preston had said that their son suffered from the little-known Kawasaki syndrome when he was a toddler.

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 remains were cremated in the Bahamas and his memorial was expected to follow guidelines of Scientology. Believers think that, while there is no heaven or hell, individuals live on as immortal spiritual beings.

The death has sparked controversy over whether the couple’s Scientology beliefs affected the management of their son’s condition. But on “The View,” Cruise denied Scientology discouraged the seeking of medical care.

“That’s just not true. It’s actually false. They say ‘Get your physical, get your medication, get your physical illnesses handled,’” Cruise said.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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