Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze Headshot

Actor • Dancer • Singer

Birth Name: Patrick Wayne Swayze

Birth Date: August 18, 1952

Death Date: September 14, 2009

Birth Place: Houston, Texas

Siblings: Don Swayze

Patrick Swayze was a Texas-born movie actor whose background in ballet and gymnastics gave him a physique well-suited for his roles as hunky love interest or macho action film hero. His early roles as the only slightly older patriarchal figure of his onscreen teenage families in films like "The Outsiders" (1983) and "Red Dawn" (1984) helped put the heartthrob on the map and on the cover of many a Tiger Beat fan magazine in the early 1980s. But it was only a few years before the teen became a man and it was in these more adult roles that the actor made his mark.

He achieved even greater heights of stardom with the romantic blockbusters "Dirty Dancing" (1987) and "Ghost" (1990). But it was his battle against pancreatic cancer for almost two years that would inspire the public and galvanize the actor to bravely give his final performance on A&E's dark drama series, "The Beast." In a year unparalleled in Hollywood loss, Swayze would pass away on Sept. 14, 2009.

Patrick Wayne Swayze was born on Aug. 18, 1952, in Houston, TX. His father, Jesse Wayne, had been a champion rodeo cowboy and Mom, "Patsy" Yvonne Swayze, was a dancer and choreographer who owned the Houston Jazz and Ballet Company. His parents were not the only performers in the family - Swayze was also a distant relation of actors William Holden and Tom Hulce.

Swayze began dance training with his hard-driving mother at an early age, focusing on a ballet career even before thoughts of acting. But high school was tough for a teenage boy in a leotard, so for several years, Swayze also developed his sporting side, participating in gymnastics, swimming and football at Waltrip High School in Houston. Consequently, the physical overachiever was offered scholarships for both dance and athletics, opting for the gymnastics program at San Jacinto College in Houston. To add to his impressive skills roster, he had also become an accomplished figure skater. Two years later, he got his first break into show business when he was offered a role as Prince Charming in the "Disney on Parade" touring ice show.

In 1972, Swayze decided to re-focus on his original love of ballet, so he headed for the bright lights and abundant career opportunities of New York City. He got right to work, studying at the Harkness and Joffrey Ballet Companies and getting hired as the principal dancer at the Eliot Feld Ballet Company. Several years into his New York run, his hometown girlfriend, Lisa Niemi, a fellow dancer whom he had met at his mother's studio, joined him in New York. The two were married not long after. When a high school football knee injury reappeared and cut his career with Feld short, Swayze made a lateral move to theater. His rugged looks, winning smile, and studied movements helped him land roles on Broadway's "Goodtime Charley," "West Side Story" and "Grease."

Swayze's high-profile turn as Danny Zuko onstage in "Grease" suddenly brought Hollywood knocking, and he and Lisa answered by packing up and moving West. He began landing parts, appearing as a bad boy on wheels in the big screen roller-skating flop, "Skatetown USA" (1979) and as a leukemia patient on an episode of "M*A*S*H" (CBS, 1972-1983). Swayze's big film breakout came in 1983 when he was cast as eldest greaser Darrel Curtis in Francis Ford Coppola's period teen melodrama, "The Outsiders" - a movie which also launched the careers of Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise.

Everything changed in 1987 when he became an overnight sensation with his starring role in "Dirty Dancing" opposite Jennifer Grey. It may have been the part he had been preparing for his whole life - rakish dance teacher Johnny Castle, who enjoyed tight pants, Cuban heels, and had an eye for the young ladies. He earned a Golden Globe nomination for the film, and also contributed an original song - "She's Like the Wind" - to the soundtrack. The song hit No. 3 on the pop charts and the film soundtrack became one of the top-selling soundtracks in history. Also immortalized: "Nobody puts Baby in the corner," uttered by Swayze to Jennifer Grey's father, Jerry Orbach, during the film's dance-off finale, which in subsequent years, became one of the most beloved and often repeated lines in film history.

The actor's next two titles were action films, but in Swayze-style action, he whirled through fight scenes like a West Side Jet in "Road House" (1989) and leapt into a mob-revenge melee like a gymnast in "Next of Kin" (1989). Only three years after securing leading man status in "Dirty Dancing," Swayze lived up to the hype by turning in another iconic performance in the blockbuster romance, "Ghost" (1990). Setting the ladies' hearts afire with his sensitive portrayal of the dead lover who can never tell his girl he loves her while alive, "Ghost," was a monster hit.

Seemingly coming out of nowhere, the film featured Swayze as the slain lover of Demi Moore, who continues to communicate with and protect her in the afterlife. With this role, Swayze showed a range heretofore unseen - most especially witnessed in comic scenes with quack psychic, Whoopi Goldberg and in his tearful, earnest attempts to contact Moore from the great beyond. And much like "Dirty Dancing," Swayze offered up another quotable quote - "Ditto" - to say nothing of another famous film scene in which Swayze and Moore erotically sculpt clay to the Righteous Brothers' ballad, "Unchained Melody." For his work, Swayze received a second Golden Globe nomination and People magazine included him in their "Sexiest Man Alive" issue the following year. Without a doubt, Swayze's impossibly perfect abs and pecs being on full display while sculpting clay shirtless had something to do with his placement that year.

After appearing in two of the most popular films in history, there was no place else to go but down. Inevitably, the actor's next string of films did not fare as well at the box office. It was not surprising when he was overlooked at the Golden Globes for playing a surfing bank robber in "Point Break" (1991) - a film high on machismo, but laughable on plot. Four years later, he surprised audiences who were used to his romantic dramas and gut-punching action movies, when he starred in the quirky, cross-country drag-queen romp, "To Wong Foo, Thanks for everything! Julie Newmar" (1995).

In the late 1990s, Swayze experienced several career setbacks including a broken leg suffered while filming "Letters from a Killer" and increasing problems with alcoholism. His father had died of the disease in 1982, and Swayze admitted to lapsing in and out of periods of heavy drinking. His sister had committed suicide in 1994, and it contributed to the tailspin that landed Swayze in rehab. After his release, he and Niemi decided to get away from the Hollywood atmosphere and relocate to a ranch in Texas, even turning down a $6 million dollar offer to do a "Dirty Dancing" sequel. After a time, Swayze returned to work, appearing in some of the more critically-acclaimed films of his career, including the Sundance nominee "The Green Dragon" (2001) and the cult-classic "Donnie Darko" (2001). Back onstage, he played the tap-dancing Billy Flynn in "Chicago" on Broadway, and "Guys and Dolls" at the Piccadilly Theater in London. In 2006, he appeared alongside Kristin-Scott Thomas and Rowan Atkinson in the independent British film, "Keeping Mum," where he received positive nods for his tongue-in-cheek role as an aging ladies man.

Due to his high-profile roles in fluffy blockbusters of the 1980s and 1990s, Swayze became a bit of a cult icon for the succeeding generation of pop culture hipsters. "Swayze" was transformed into a bona fide adjective in the hip-hop world, with "I'm Swayze" meaning "disappeared" or "gone" like his character in "Ghost." Film parodists "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (Sci Fi Channel, 1988-1999) included an original song called "Patrick Swayze Christmas" in one of their holiday episodes, with the puppet hosts wishing their viewers "the Swayziest Christmas of them all." Indie rockers Kane Hodder even cut a song called "I think Patrick Swayze is Sexy," while, at the same time, The Petition Site.com received signatures of dozens of people who believe "No More Patrick Swayze Movies Should be Made." Love him or hate him, no one could claim the dancer-turned-actor did not inspire great passion from both his fans and his detractors.

It was precisely this passion which led fans and even those ambivalent toward the actor to express their deepest sympathies when the National Enquirer broke the news in March 2008 that Swayze only had five weeks to live, due to terminal pancreatic cancer. The news shocked the masses, leading to a forced rebuttal from Swayze's physician, Dr. George Fisher, who did confirm the cancer, but not the tabloid's prognosis, stating "Patrick has a very limited amount of the disease and he appears to be responding well to the treatment." An outpouring of affection from both fans and former co-stars began pouring in, leading the family to release the statement: "We appreciate the love that's coming back to Patrick from all his fans." The actor had just shot a pilot for A&E, "The Beast," which, despite the news, the network confirmed was a major contender to go to series and that they believed Swayze would be able to continue his role once his cancer treatment was finished. He was able to complete one full season before the show was scrapped due to low ratings. Despite a valiant nearly two-year battle with the disease, the beloved actor succumbed to pancreatic cancer with his family by his side on Sept. 14, 2009.

Credits

Retro: Vintage Valentine

Music Performer
Show
2020

Frederick Forsyth's Icon

Actor
Show
2013

La Bestia

Actor
Show
2009

The Beast

Actor
Show
2009

Powder Blue

Actor
Bouncer
Movie
2009

Christmas in Wonderland

Actor
Wayne Saunders
Movie
2007

Jump!

Actor
Richard Pressburger
Movie
2007

Keeping Mum

Actor
Lance
Movie
2006

The Fox and the Hound 2

Voice
Cash
Movie
2006

Icon

Actor
Show
2005

Frederick Forsyth's Icon

Actor
Jason Monk
Movie
2005

The Insider

Guest
Show
2004

King Solomon's MinesStream

Actor
Allan Quatermain
Miniseries
2004

Salamon Kiraly Kincse

Actor
Movie
2004

Dirty Dancing: Havana NightsStream

Actor
Dance Class Instructor
Movie
2004
23%

King Solomon's Mines

Actor
Allan Quatermain
Movie
2004

George and the Dragon

Actor
Garth
Movie
2004

Whoopi

Guest Star
Series
2003
26%

One Last Dance

Actor
Travis MacPhearson
Movie
2003

11:14

Actor
Frank
Movie
2003

Waking Up in Reno

Actor
Roy
Movie
2002

Friday Night with Jonathan Ross

Self
Show
2001

Donnie DarkoStream

Actor
Jim Cunningham
Movie
2001
87%

Green DragonStream

Actor
Jim Lance
Movie
2001
61%

Forever Lulu

Actor
Ben Clifton
Movie
2000

Get Bruce!

Self
Movie
1999

The Black Dog

Actor
Movie
1998

Black DogStream

Actor
Jack Crews
Movie
1998
14%

Letters From a Killer

Actor
Race Darnell
Movie
1998

Access Hollywood

Guest
News
1996

Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of Pecos Bill

Actor
Pecos Bill
Movie
1995

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie NewmarStream

Actor
Miss Vida Boheme (Eugene)
Movie
1995
45%

Three Wishes

Actor
Jack McCloud
Movie
1995

Father HoodStream

Actor
Jack Charles
Movie
1993

City of Joy

Actor
Max Lowe
Movie
1992

Amazing Stories: The Movie IV

Actor
Eric David Peterson
Movie
1991

Point BreakStream

Actor
Bodhi
Movie
1991
70%

GhostStream

Actor
Sam Wheat
Movie
1990
75%

Road HouseStream

Actor
Dalton
Movie
1989
41%

Next of Kin

Actor
Truman Gates
Movie
1989

Tiger Warsaw

Actor
Chuck `'Tiger'` Warsaw
Movie
1988

Patrick Swayze Feat. Wendy Fraser: She's Like the Wind

Music Performer
Show
1987

Dirty DancingStream

Actor
Johnny Castle
Movie
1987
72%

Steel Dawn

Actor
Nomad
Movie
1987

North and South, Book II

Actor
Orry Main
Miniseries
1986

Youngblood

Actor
Derek Sutton
Movie
1986

North and SouthStream

Actor
Orry Main
Miniseries
1985

Amazing StoriesStream

Actor
Series
1985

Off Sides

Actor
Doug Zimmer
Movie
1984

Red DawnStream

Actor
Jed Eckert
Movie
1984
52%

Grandview, U.S.A.Stream

Actor
Ernie `'Slam'` Webster
Movie
1984

Renegades

Actor
Show
1983

The OutsidersStream

Actor
Darrel Curtis
Movie
1983
70%

Uncommon Valor

Actor
Kevin Scott
Movie
1983

The Renegades

Actor
Bandit
Movie
1982

Return of the Rebels

Actor
K.C. Barnes
Movie
1981

Skatetown U.S.A.

Actor
Ace Johnson
Movie
1979

Saturday Night LiveStream

Host
Series
1975

M*A*S*HStream

Guest Star
Pvt. Gary Sturgis
Series
1972

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonStream

Guest
Talk
1962

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