Question: I am looking for information about the TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, in which John Travolta portrayed Tod Lubitch. I need to compare it with a book I read for school. Please let me know if there is a website I can go to — I would love to know the history of the movie and what it was about.


Answer: You've got it backwards, my young friend. If you're a lazy student, the idea is to watch the movie and ask someone about the book, not the other way around.

Be that as it may, as you say, the 1976 TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble was based on a true story and starred Travolta as a young man born without a functioning immune system. Confined to a shielded environment that kept all germs out, he fell in love with a girl (Glynnis O'Connor) and was faced with the prospect of wooing her without being able to touch her or enter her world. How did it end up? Hey, with as long as you've waited for me to tell you that, you could've rented it and watched it yourself. (And don't try subbing in the just-plain terrible and tasteless Bubble Boy instead, unless you want an F on that assignment.)

What I will tell you is that the film took its inspiration from the life of the late David Vetter, who was born in 1971 with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a condition that killed his older brother before him. Like Travolta's character, Vetter was raised in a plastic incubator designed to protect him from outside organisms until doctors could develop a way to help him. Sadly, at the age of 12, he received bone marrow from his sister in a process doctors believed might provide a cure, but the Epstein-Barr virus in the marrow developed into a fatal form of lymphoma, killing him.