All film stills courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Remember when John Travolta was cool? Yes, there was a time where John Travolta was “cooler than a polar bear’s toe nails” and as popular with the ladies as any of the leading men robbing women’s hearts today. In 1977, Travolta took over pop culture with his most iconic performance in Saturday Night Fever as Tony Mareno, a 19-year-old Italian kid from Brooklyn. From Sunday to Friday, he was a nobody, working a dead end job with seemingly no ambition, but on Saturday nights, he was a king who reigned over a disco dance floor (we assure you back in ’77 this was cool). We present an ode to disco, the Bee Gees and strutting–here are NYC locations used for Saturday Night Fever.
The opening scene is one that everyone should know: Travolta strutting down Bay Ridge with the Bee Gees “Staying Alive” playing in the background. It is one of the most famous opening scenes in cinema history and one that many have paid homage to since the film’s release. It was also one of the hardest; initial shooting of the scene had to be scrapped because everywhere the camera would go, there would be schoolgirls in the shot, gawking at Travolta. Many of the scenes shot during the day had to be done as early as dawn to avoid public disturbances.
The first time we hear Travolta is when he orders two slices (eating them one on top of the other) from this neighborhood pizza joint that still exists today. Lenny’s Pizzeria has been in business since 1953 and still carries a picture of a young Travolta on its wall. Fun fact: the young lady working in the shop is actually Travolta’s younger sister Ann.