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The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976)

Based on a true story, Tod Lubitch is born with a deficient immune system (which is unlike being born with AIDS). As such, he must spend the rest of his life in a completely sterile ... See full summary »



(teleplay), (story) (as Joseph Morgenstern) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Karen Morrow ...
Howard Platt ...
John Friedrich ...
Skip Lowell ...
John Megna ...
Darrell Zwerling ...
Mr. Brister (as Darryl Zwerling)


Based on a true story, Tod Lubitch is born with a deficient immune system (which is unlike being born with AIDS). As such, he must spend the rest of his life in a completely sterile environment. His room is completely hermetically sealed against bacteria and virus, his food is specially prepared, and his only human contact comes in the form of gloved hands. The movie follows his life into a teenager. Written by Afterburner <aburner@erols.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Born with no immunity against disease, he lives in a plastic prison. Inside he is protected. Outside, there is the chance of death. But the chance of love.


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 November 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bubble Trouble  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


During filming, 22-year-old John Travolta and 40-year-old Diana Hyland began dating and eventually fell in love, despite the fact that Hyland was nearly 18 years older than Travolta. She was still in the process of getting divorced from writer and producer Joseph Goodson when she passed away on Sunday, March 27, 1977, four months after their TV movie's broadcast, and while Travolta was filming Saturday Night Fever (1977). See more »


Todd swallows the eye from his Teddy bear. the parents run down to get Todd to cough up the plastic eye to save him from choking. the scene fades to black. there is no scene that actually shows them removing the plastic eye from the chamber, so Todd is free to swallow it again. See more »


Johnny Lubitch: [to his wife] There were never two people in the world that were more meant to be parents than you and me.
See more »


Referenced in Gilmore Girls: A-Tisket, A-Tasket (2002) See more »


What Would They Say
Composed by Paul Williams
Sung by Paul Williams
See more »

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User Reviews

John Travolta Puts on Protection
24 April 2010 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

"John Travolta stars as Tod Lubitsch, a teenager who was born without disease immunities. Tod is forced to live out his life in incubator conditions. When he ventures outdoors, he must be encased in a huge plastic bubble. He falls in love with Gina Biggs (Glynnis O'Connor), and must decide between following his heart or facing near-certain death," according to the DVD sleeve description, "Diana Hyland won an Emmy for her portrayal of Travolta's mother."

Ms. Hyland was nominated posthumously, as "Best supporting Actress"; and, Mr. Travolta accepted the award.

This corny "ABC Friday Night Movie" was, nevertheless, a TV winner. There seems to be a serious mistake is storytelling as, following Mr. Travolta's clapping push-up contest with Kelly Ward (as Tom Shuster), we see Travolta's perfect "bubble" environment contaminated by both his young co-stars and a dirty $10 bill. You could also point out Travolta was well past high school age - then again, he spent more years there on "Welcome Back, Kotter" than he did in reality.

Changing hairstyles and demeanor, Hyland and father Robert Reed (as Johnny) manage the passing decades well.

This drama is not about the lead character's medical condition. It is about sex - specifically, about the desire for sex between two young people who are obviously falling in love. Teenagers who saw this movie on television in 1976 (and in rerun) surely made the connection. Travolta looks very sexy in his gym shorts and eye make-up. And, Ms. O'Connor appears in an eye-popping baby-blue bikini which would have, if applicable, worn off many a remote's rewind button.

"I wanna be dirty!" Travolta's roommate John Friedrich exclaims, "I wanna make it with everything that walks!"

The sexual content didn't stop at the cutting room floor, with Travolta letting known an affair with one of his co-stars. If you're NOT already "in the know" you'd surely think it was O'Connor. Well, surprise, you're wrong… You're next guess is Mr. Reed. Good one. But, wrong again… It was revealed to be movie "mother" Hyland. An familiar American TV favorite, she tragically died of breast cancer within a year. This movie was an important part of Travolta's post-"Kotter" stardom.

Neatly directed by Randal Kleiser, the ending is an exhilaratingly symbolic release of tension.

***** The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (11/12/76) Randal Kleiser ~ John Travolta, Glynnis O'Connor, Robert Reed, Diana Hyland

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