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John Travolta thanks ‘dear friend’ Bill Kenwright for ‘showing kindness’ to his late wife Kelly Preston in emotional social media post after working with him on two films: ‘We’ll see you down the road’


John Travolta has paid tribute to Everton football club chairman and West End impresario Bill Kenwright following his death on October 23 at the age of 78. 

Premier League club Everton announced Kenwright’s death on Tuesday, confirming he died peacefully while surrounded by his family and loved ones after battling cancer.  

Hollywood star Travolta, 69, has since joined a host of stars in paying tribute to the Liverpool born producer, a lifelong Everton fan who regularly attended the team’s home games at Goodison Park. 

Sharing a picture with Instagram followers, the actor revealed Kenwright had been a close friend to himself and his late wife Kelly Preston, who lost her own battle with cancer at the age of 57 in 2020.  

He wrote: ‘Dear Bill, we will miss you and can’t thank you enough for your kindness to Kelly and myself. We’ll see you down the road, love JT.’ 

Moving: John Travolta has paid tribute to Everton football club chairman and West End impresario Bill Kenwright following his death on October 23 at the age of 78

Moving: John Travolta has paid tribute to Everton football club chairman and West End impresario Bill Kenwright following his death on October 23 at the age of 78

Previously: Travolta had a professional connection to the late impresario after playing a crazed stalker in 2019 thriller The Fanatic (pictured), a film Kenwright co-produced

Previously: Travolta had a professional connection to the late impresario after playing a crazed stalker in 2019 thriller The Fanatic (pictured), a film Kenwright co-produced

Close: Travolta revealed Kenwright had been a close friend to himself and his late wife Kelly Preston (pictured), who lost her own battle with cancer at the age of 57 in 2020

Close: Travolta revealed Kenwright had been a close friend to himself and his late wife Kelly Preston (pictured), who lost her own battle with cancer at the age of 57 in 2020

Travolta had a professional connection to the late impresario after playing a crazed stalker in 2019 thriller The Fanatic, a film Kenwright co-produced with Daniel Grodnik and Oscar Generale. 

He will also feature in forthcoming Disney + film short The Shepherd, the producer’s last production credit before his death on October 23. 

Kenwright began his showbiz career as an actor and appeared in the soap opera Coronation Street in the late 1960s, returning for occasional appearances over the years after he moved into producing.

He became one of Britain´s biggest stage impresarios, producing shows in London´s West End and on Broadway – some flops, many hits, including Blood Brothers, which ran in London for 24 years, and a hit touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Among his most recent shows as producer was Heathers: The Musical, currently touring the United Kingdom.

He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001 for services to theater and film. 

Kenwright first joined the Everton board in 1989, bought a 68% stake in 1999 and became chairman in 2004. 

It was a position he still held until his death, despite a turbulent last couple of years under Everton owner Farhad Moshiri, who has been looking to sell the club and recently overhauled the board.

Loyal supporter: Everton chairman Kenwright was a lifelong fan of the Premier League club and regularly attended the team's home games at Goodison Park

Loyal supporter: Everton chairman Kenwright was a lifelong fan of the Premier League club and regularly attended the team’s home games at Goodison Park

Old times: Kenwright with former Everton manager David Moyes and a teenage Wayne Rooney, who began his footballing career with the Merseyside club

Old times: Kenwright with former Everton manager David Moyes and a teenage Wayne Rooney, who began his footballing career with the Merseyside club 

True legend: The club chairman (right) was present when football icon Paul Gascoigne signed for Everton in 2000

True legend: The club chairman (right) was present when football icon Paul Gascoigne signed for Everton in 2000 

Career beginnings: Kenwright began his showbiz career as an actor and appeared in the soap opera Coronation Street in the late 1960s, returning for occasional appearances over the years

Career beginnings: Kenwright began his showbiz career as an actor and appeared in the soap opera Coronation Street in the late 1960s, returning for occasional appearances over the years

He had a cancerous tumor removed from his liver in August, but complications meant he needed a lengthy stay in an intensive care unit before continuing his recovery at home.

Wayne Rooney, the England and Manchester United great who broke through at Everton as a 16-year-old prodigy, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Kenwright “had a huge impact on me as a person and my career.”

‘Great man and a big inspiration,’ he wrote.

Elsewhere actor Sir Ian McKellen wrote: ‘Like many grateful actors I am in debt to Bill Kenwright for employment.’

McKellen said Kenwright ‘seemed to have known everyone in the business and to care about them. Yet every chat would (veer) round to his equal passion – Everton football.’ 

He added: ‘The city that gave us The Beatles and two major football teams, also bred a unique impresario. Whether the West End lights will be turned off in his memory, certainly our business will be dimmer now he has gone.’ 



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