Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
August 18, 1952
1979 - 2009
Currently Known For:
Road House, Point Break, Dirty Dancing
In the 1980s and 1990s, there was one actor that really stood out as having the type of machismo that you’d expect from a leading man. That actor was Patrick Swayze, who was part of some of the most iconic movies from that era. Swayze unfortunately had to battle cancer toward the end of his career, costing the world a beloved actor much too soon. However, his memories on film will remain with his fans forever.
Swayze is perhaps best known for his role in “Dirty Dancing”, and it makes sense that he was so talented at dancing. After all, the actor who was born in Houston, Texas on August 18, 1952 was the son of a choreographer and dancer. Early on, Swayze showed a lot of potential as a dancing star, but hoped to pursue a career in football instead. After becoming injured, though, Swayze turned his attention to dancing on a full-time basis where he started landing notable gigs in the field.
Dancing success for Swayze eventually got him to Broadway, where he was able to branch out and become an actor. In 1979, Swayze made his film debut, appearing in the movie “Skatetown, U.S.A.” The next year, he’d start to land television roles, having his first appearance in the TV movie “The Comeback Kid”. After having a handful of TV films and miniseries during the 1980s, Swayze started to get bigger roles on the silver screen.
The first big role for Swayze came in 1984 when he starred in the film “Red Dawn”. Three years later, Swayze had perhaps his most memorable role starring opposite Jennifer Grey in “Dirty Dancing”. The movie had a budget of just $6 million, but pulled in more than $210 million at the box office to make it a smash hit. Swayze didn’t think it would be that big of a hit at first, saying that “Initially I thought it was a little saccharine,” adding that “But as Jennifer and I started connecting, you do start to feel magic happen.”
Following the success of “Dirty Dancing”, Swayze had been featured as the leading man in several films to round out the decade. This included the likes of “Road House” and “Next of Kin”, and he’d continue to have hits in the 1990s. Some of those more successful films in the era included “Ghost”, “Point Break” and “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar”. In the new millennium, Swayze had roles in films such as “Donnie Darko” and “11:14”, having his final film appearance in 2009 with “Powder Blue” and last TV role in “The Beast” as a main actor.
Outside of acting, Swayze would run into personal problems that included drinking too much during the 1990s, causing him to enter rehabilitation on multiple occasions. Thankfully, he had his wife throughout the entire time, after having been married to Lisa Niemi for more than 30 years, tying the knot back in 1975. Not many relationships in Hollywood tend to last that long, but Swayze and Niemi were a perfect fit it seemed.
As for his struggles, Swayze said that “Trying to deal with fame I got stupid and drank too much.” He added that “You have to understand, I’m the product of a cowboy who fell in love with a talented big-city girl. So I’ve had rodeo, horses and cattle in my life, but I’ve also had theater, success and ambition. Trying to find what it is to be a real human being and what it is to live through fame was hard. But I feel fortunate that I’ve come out the other end.”
Though he was never nominated for the honor of an Oscar, Swayze did receive several nominations from the Golden Globes. Three times he earned nominations, thanks to his roles in “Dirty Dancing”, “Ghost” and “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar”. He did receive several smaller awards, including a lifetime achievement honor from the Houston Film Critics Society.
Sadly, we won’t see any more nominations from the actor as he started to experience health problems starting in 2007. After feeling discomfort in his stomach, Swayze went to the hospital and found out that there was bad news, being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had progressed and was given grim news that he didn’t have very long to live. After being told that he’d only be alive for a few weeks, Swayze ended up living for another couple of years, and it looked like he may end up winning his battle against cancer.
In 2009, though, Swayze would end up going to the hospital because of pneumonia, and it looked like the end was coming. A few months after leaving the hospital, Swayze learned that his cancer had spread, and that he indeed didn’t have much longer to live. On September 14, 2009, cancer had finally gotten the best of Swayze, and he passed away at 57 years old. Instead of a large ceremony, Swayze opted to have his body cremated, having his ashes spread out at his home.
Many stars reacted to his passing, including his former “Dirty Dancing” co-star Jennifer Grey. “Patrick was a rare and beautiful combination of raw masculinity and amazing grace,” she said. “Gorgeous and strong, he was a real cowboy with a tender heart. He was fearless and insisted on always doing his own stunts, so it was not surprising to me that he war he waged on his cancer was so courageous and dignified.”