LOS ANGELES â€“ Patrick Swayze personified a particular kind of masculine grace both on and off screen, from his roles in films like â€œDirty Dancingâ€ and â€œGhostâ€ to the way he carried himself in his long fight with pancreatic cancer. Swayze died from the illness on Monday in Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 57.â€œPatrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months,â€ Annett Wolf said in a statement Monday evening. She declined to give details.Fans of the actor were saddened to learn in March 2008 that Swayze was suffering from an especially deadly form of cancer. He continued working despite the diagnosis, putting together a memoir with his wife and shooting â€œThe Beast,â€ an A&E drama series for which he had already made the pilot.Swayze said he chose not to use painkillers while making â€œThe Beastâ€ because they would have taken the edge off his performance. The show drew a respectable 1.3 million viewers when the 13 episodes ran this year, but A&E said it reluctantly decided not to renew it for a second season.When he first went public with the illness, some reports gave him only weeks to live, but his doctor said his situation was â€œconsiderably more optimisticâ€ than that. Swayze acknowledged that time might be running out given the grim nature of the disease.â€œIâ€™d say five years is pretty wishful thinking,â€ Swayze told ABCâ€™s Barbara Walters in early 2009. â€œTwo years seems likely if youâ€™re going to believe statistics. I want to last until they find a cure, which means Iâ€™d better get a fire under it.â€And thatâ€™s exactly what he did. In February, Swayze wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post titled, â€œIâ€™m Battling Cancer. How About Some Help, Congress?â€ in which he urged senators and representatives to vote for the maximum funding for the National Institutes of Health to fight cancer as part of the economic stimulus package.He also appeared in the September 2008 live television event â€œStand Up to Cancer,â€ where he pleaded: â€œI keep dreaming of a future, a future with a long and healthy life, a life not lived in the shadow of cancer, but in the light. â€¦ I dream that the word `cureâ€™ will no longer be followed by the words `is impossible.â€™â€Celebrities and fans inspired by Swayzeâ€™s struggle poured out their condolences, including C. Thomas Howell, who costarred with Swayze in â€œThe Outsiders,â€ â€œGrandview U.S.A.â€ and â€œRed Dawn.â€â€œI have always had a special place in my heart for Patrick,â€ he said. â€œWhile I was fortunate enough to work with him in three films, it was our passion for horses that forged a friendship between us that I treasure to this day.â€Others used Twitter to express their sadness, and â€œDirty Dancingâ€ was a top trending topic Monday night, trailed by other Swayze films.Demi Moore, who played Swayzeâ€™s fiancee in â€œGhost,â€ wrote: â€œPatrick you are loved by so many and your light will forever shine in all of our lives.â€ Mooreâ€™s husband, Ashton Kutcher, tweeted: â€œRIP P Swayzeâ€ and linked to a YouTube clip of the actor poking fun at himself in a classic â€œSaturday Night Liveâ€ sketch, in which he played a wannabe Chippendales dancer alongside the corpulent â€” and frighteningly shirtless â€” Chris Farley.Larry King wrote: â€œPatrick Swayze was a wonderful actor & a terrific guy. He put his heart in everything. He was an extraordinary fighter in his battle w Cancer.â€ King added that heâ€™d do a tribute to Swayze on his CNN program Tuesday night.A three-time Golden Globe nominee, Swayze became a star with his performance as the misunderstood bad boy Johnny Castle in â€œDirty Dancing.â€ As the son of a choreographer who began his career in musical theater, he seemed a natural to play the role.A coming-of-age romance starring Jennifer Grey as an idealistic young woman on vacation with her family and Swayze as the Catskills resortâ€™s sexy (and much older) dance instructor, the film made use of both his grace on his feet and his muscular physique.It became an international phenomenon in the summer of 1987, spawning albums, an Oscar-winning hit song in â€œ(Iâ€™ve Had) the Time of My Life,â€ stage productions and a sequel, 2004â€™s â€œDirty Dancing: Havana Nights,â€ in which he made a cameo.Swayze performed and co-wrote a song on the soundtrack, the ballad â€œSheâ€™s Like the Wind,â€ inspired by his wife, Lisa Niemi. The film also gave him the chance to utter the now-classic line, â€œNobody puts Baby in a corner.â€Swayze followed up with the 1989 action flick â€œRoad House,â€ in which he played a bouncer at a rowdy bar. But it was his performance in 1990â€™s â€œGhostâ€ that showed his vulnerable, sensitive side. He starred as a murdered man trying to communicate with his fiancee, with great frustration and longing, through a psychic played by Whoopi Goldberg.â€œGhostâ€ provided yet another indelible musical moment: Swayze and Moore sensually molding pottery together to the strains of the Righteous Brothersâ€™ â€œUnchained Melody.â€ It also earned a best-picture nomination and a supporting-actress Oscar for Goldberg, who said she wouldnâ€™t have won if it werenâ€™t for Swayze.â€œWhen I won my Academy Award, the only person I really thanked was Patrick,â€ Goldberg said in March 2008 on the ABC daytime talk show â€œThe View.â€Swayze himself earned three Golden Globe nominations, for â€œDirty Dancing,â€ â€œGhostâ€ and 1995â€™s â€œTo Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar,â€ which allowed him to toy with his masculine image. The role called for him to play a drag queen on a cross-country road trip alongside Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo.His heartthrob status almost kept him from being considered for the role of Vida Boheme.â€œI couldnâ€™t get seen on it because everyone viewed me as terminally heterosexually masculine-macho,â€ he told The Associated Press then. But he transformed himself so completely that when his screen test was sent to Steven Spielberg, whose Amblin pictures produced â€œTo Wong Foo,â€ the director didnâ€™t recognize him.Among his earlier films, Swayze was part of the star-studded lineup in Francis Ford Coppolaâ€™s 1983 adaptation of S.E. Hintonâ€™s novel â€œThe Outsiders,â€ alongside Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez and Diane Lane. Other â€™80s films included â€œRed Dawn,â€ â€œGrandview U.S.A.â€ and â€œYoungblood,â€ once more with Lowe, as Canadian hockey teammates.In the â€™90s, he made such eclectic films as â€œPoint Breakâ€ (1991) in which he played the leader of a band of bank-robbing surfers, and the family Western â€œTall Taleâ€ (1995) in which he starred as Pecos Bill. He appeared on the cover of People magazine as its â€œSexiest Man Aliveâ€ in 1991, but his career tapered off toward the end of the 1990s, when he went to rehab for alcohol abuse. In 2001, he appeared in the cult favorite â€œDonnie Darko,â€ and in 2003 he returned to the New York stage with â€œChicagoâ€; 2006 found him in the musical â€œGuys and Dollsâ€ in London.Swayze was born in 1952 in Houston, the son of Jesse Swayze and choreographer Patsy Swayze, whose films include â€œUrban Cowboy.â€He played football but also was drawn to dance and theater, performing with the Feld, Joffrey and Harkness Ballets and appearing on Broadway as Danny Zuko in â€œGrease.â€ He turned to acting in 1978 after a series of injuries.Within a couple years of moving to Los Angeles, he made his debut in the roller-disco movie â€œSkatetown, U.S.A.â€ The eclectic cast included Scott Baio, Flip Wilson, Maureen McCormack and Billy Barty.Off-screen, he was an avid conservationist who was moved by his time in Africa to shine a light on â€œmanâ€™s greed and absolute unwillingness to operate according to Mother Natureâ€™s laws,â€ he told the AP in 2004.Swayze was married since 1975 to Niemi, a fellow dancer who took lessons with his mother; they met when he was 19 and she was 15. A licensed pilot, Niemi would fly her husband from Los Angeles to Northern California for treatment at Stanford University Medical Center.