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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

An ‘honorary Travolta’ scores photo opportunity with John Travolta in Coeur d’Alene

Surreal doesn’t begin to describe performing in front of a beaming John Travolta.

The iconic actor upped the ante after witnessing the annual holiday show “Saving Christmas” on Dec. 9 at Coeur d’Alene Resort, chatting with Spokane cabaret singer Abbey Crawford after the show and complimenting her on her performance. “John Travolta told me that I’m a great singer,” Crawford said. “That just blew me away.”

That’s totally understandable. There was no bigger star in Hollywood than Travolta when Crawford was coming of age in Iowa during the late 1970s. The former star of “Welcome Back Kotter,” who is 67, became a sensation courtesy of critically acclaimed leading roles in classic films such as “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever.”

“He is so talented, but he’s such a super-cool dude,” Crawford said. “I told him how nice it was to meet him, and he was nice enough to pose for pictures. He’s the baby of the family and is so wonderful, but so is his sister Ellen Travolta, who is amazing.”

Ellen Travolta, 82, co-starred in the 1980s sitcom “Charles in Charge” and also appeared in “Grease” and “Welcome Back Kotter.” The eldest Travolta, who produced and appeared again in “Saving Christmas,” which ran from mid-November to mid-December this year, moved to Coeur d’Alene in 1994 and has been a longtime supporter of Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre. Her daughter, radio personality Molly Allen, is also part of “Saving Christmas.”

“I’ve known Ellen since 1995,” Crawford said. “She was lovely back then, and she keeps getting more wonderful as the years pass. Whenever I have the chance to work with her, I’m in. We did ‘Gypsy’ back in the day, and ‘Saving Christmas’ is the fourth show I’ve done (at Coeur d’Alene Resort.) Even if John Travolta didn’t come out to the show, it would have been special.

“It’s always great to be part of whatever Ellen is working on, but it was so cool to see John interact with his family. He just adores his siblings. He was with his daughter, Ella Bleu. I’ve met four of the six Travolta siblings, and I’ve asked Ellen if I’m an honorary Travolta, and she said ‘yes’ – so that’s awesome!”

Crawford, 48, is an accomplished entertainer in her own right. “I’ve been doing theater for over 30 years in Spokane,” Crawford said. “I’m the only trained cabaret singer in this town. Spokane has always been a sports-oriented town, but the arts scene is improving.”

“Into the Woods” at the Lake City Playhouse, “Bare: a Pop Opera” at Stage Left Theater and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” at Spokane Civic Theatre are among her acting credits. Crawford, the divorced mother of three children, boys who are 22 and 18 and a nonbinary who is 19, never left Spokane since she opted to raise her children and had to deal with split custody.

“My family is a priority, but I do get to work in the area,” Crawford said. “’I’m going to be in Ellen’s production in 2022. I love being part of it since Coeur d’Alene is like Christmas town. I get to work with my TV mom, who really is like family, and it’s a bonus if Ellen’s brother shows up.

“I love the fact that he let me take photos with him and put bunny ears on him. When I was 8 years old, I never would have guessed that I would perform in front of John Travolta or work with Ellen Travolta. It’s just been amazing.”