Even if you weren’t alive to witness it, I’m sure you’ve seen the image of a practically fetal Princess Diana, 24, swanning around the White House dance floor with John Travolta. She was wearing THAT DRESS, THAT MIDNIGHT BLUE DRESS, later redubbed “The Travolta Dress,” while he was still-very-dashing in a classic black tux. It was THE PHOTO OP of the year, if not the decade. Even if you loathed Mr Revolta… and thought she was a bit of mewling psychopath… you had to admit it was brilliant optics and pretty much summed up the glamour of the era.
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#princessdianaspam_RA Princess Diana dancing with the actor John Travolta to the music of his 1977 film Saturday Night Fever at a gala dinner at the White House in November 1985🖤 #britishroyalfamily #princessdiana #johntravolta #travoltadress #instaroyals #oldpic #trowback #WeMissYouPrincessDiana
Travolta explained how it all came about to a Dutch radio station:
“I didn’t know or expect to dance with Princess Diana, and it was the president’s wife, Nancy Reagan, that said, ‘It is her wish.’ At midnight, I had to tap her on her shoulder, and I had to say, ‘Would you care to dance.’ She turned around and dipped her head in that Lady Diana way and we were off for 15 minutes dancing. I’ll never forget it.”
Except that’s not the whole story. Apparently Princess Di had no desire to dance with Travolta…. she wanted to do a quick spin with swoon-y ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov.
In a documentary titled The Last 100 Days of Diana, Princess Diana’s butler Paul Burrell explained that “Nancy and Ronny Regan set up the press to take a picture of her dancing with John Travolta. She said, ‘I didn’t really want to dance with him though. I wanted to dance with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Because he is my hero.”
Diana’s apparent desire to dance with – and be acknowledged by – Baryshnikov, stems from an earlier incident in which she went to the stage door of a London theater to have Baryshnikov sign her book. He signed it “without looking at her.” Ha! That’ll do it!
The dress eventually became the most expensive dress ever sold at auction, fetching £240,000. It was the last dress Diana ever wore in a portrait. It was sold to a British gentleman as a surprise to “cheer up his wife.”
And now you know the whole story! (Photos: Avalon Red)