‘A storybook moment’: John Travolta describes story behind iconic dance with Princess Diana

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WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 9, 1985: In this handout image provided by The White House, Princess Diana dances with John Travolta in Cross Hall at the White House during an official dinner on November 9, 1985 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)

(WJW) — Actor John Travolta describes the moments leading up to his iconic dance with Princess Diana in a clip from a new special premiering this weekend.

“In Their Own Words: Diana, Princess of Wales” premieres on PBS Sunday.

The Princess of Wales danced with Travolta in Cross Hall at the White House during an official dinner in 1985. Travolta said in the clip, shared exclusively with People, it all started after he got a call from the White House to meet the British royal family.

“I went with a very humble attitude that I was an extra in a room of very important people,” he said in the clip.

At about 10 p.m., he said First Lady Nancy Reagan tapped him on the shoulder.

“She said, ‘The princess, her fantasy is to dance with you. Would you dance with her tonight?’ I said, ‘Well of course. How does this work’,” he said.

He was told that Reagan would come up to him at midnight and lead him over to ask the princess to dance.

“My heart starts to race,” he said, “and I tap her on the shoulder, and she turns around and looks at me. And she had that kind of bashful dip that she did, and she looked up at me, and I said, ‘Would you care to dance with me?'”

She said yes.

“I took her and the whole room cleared,” he said. “We danced for what felt like 15 minutes. It was a storybook moment, and we bowed when it was over, and she was off and I was off, and my carriage turned into a pumpkin.”

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