Patrick Wayne Swayze (pronounced /ËˆsweÉªziË/; August 18, 1952 â€“ September 14, 2009) was an American actor, dancer and singer-songwriter. He was best-known for his roles as romantic leading men in the films Dirty Dancing and Ghost and as Orry Main in the North and South television miniseries. He was listed by People magazine as its “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1991.
Diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer in January 2008, Swayze told Barbara Walters a year later that he wanted the media to report that he was “kicking it”. He died from the disease in September 2009. His last role was the lead in an A&E TV series, The Beast, which premiered on January 15, 2009. Owing to a prolonged decline in health, Swayze was unable to promote the series, and on June 15, 2009, Entertainment Tonight reported that the show had been cancelled.
Patrick Swayze was born on August 18, 1952 in Houston, Texas, the eldest child of Patsy Yvonne Helen (nÃ©e Karnes; b. 1927), a choreographer, dance instructor, and dancer, and Jesse Wayne Swayze (1925â€“1982), an engineering draftsman. He had two younger brothers, actor Don (born 1958) and Sean Kyle (born 1962), and two sisters, Vickie Lynn (1949â€“1994) and an adopted sister, Bambi. Swayze was the sixth cousin once removed of commentator John Cameron Swayze, and a relative of noted Texas Revolution soldier Henry Karnes. Swayze’s surname originated with an English immigrant ancestor named “Swasey”.
Until the age of twenty, Swayze lived in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston, where he attended St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, Oak Forest Elementary School, Black Middle School, and Waltrip High School. During this time, he also pursued multiple artistic and athletic skills, such as ice skating, classical ballet, and acting in school plays. He studied gymnastics at nearby San Jacinto College for two years.
In 1972, he moved to New York City to complete his formal dance training at the Harkness Ballet and Joffrey ballet schools.
Swayze’s first professional appearance was as a dancer for Disney on Parade. He starred as a replacement for Danny Zuko in the long-running Broadway production of Grease before his dÃ©but film role as “Ace” in Skatetown, U.S.A.. He appeared as Pvt. Sturgis in the M*A*S*H episode “Blood Brothers”Â and had a brief stint in 1982 on a short lived TV series The Renegades playing a gang leader named Bandit. Swayze became known to the film industry after appearing in The Outsiders as the older brother of C. Thomas Howell and Rob Lowe. Swayze, Howell, and Howell’s friend Darren Dalton reunited in Red Dawn the next year, and Lowe and Swayze reunited in Youngblood. He was considered a member of the Brat Pack. His first major success was in the 1985 television miniseries North and South, which was set during the American Civil War.
Swayze’s breakthrough role came with his performance as dance instructor Johnny Castle in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, alongside his Red Dawn co-star, Jennifer Grey. Dirty Dancing was a low-budget project that was intended to be shown in theaters for one weekend only and then go straight to video, but it became a surprise hit and achieved massive international success. It was the first film to sell one million copies on video, and as of 2007, has earned over US$300 million worldwide and spawned several alternate versions, ranging from a television series to stage productions to a computer game. Swayze received a Golden Globe Award nomination for the role and also sang one of the songs on the soundtrack, “She’s Like the Wind,” which he had originally co-written with Stacy Widelitz for the film Grandview, U.S.A. The song became a top ten hit and has been covered by other artists, such as David Hasselhoff, and in 2006 was converted into a hip-hop version by Lumidee, who took it to the top of the charts in Germany.
After Dirty Dancing, Swayze found himself heavily typecast and appeared in several flops, of which Road House was the most successful. His biggest hit came in 1990, when he starred in Ghost, with Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. This role had considerable cultural impact, and modern hip-hop lyrics routinely used the phrase “I’m Swayze” (meaning “I’m ghost,” which is in turn slang for “I’m leaving”) in reference to that film. In 1991, he starred alongside Youngblood cast mate Keanu Reeves in another major action hit, Point Break, and was also chosen by People magazine as that year’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”
Swayze was seriously injured in 1996 while filming HBO’s Letters from a Killer near Ione, California, when he fell from a horse and hit a tree. Both of his legs were broken and he suffered four detached tendons in his shoulder. Filming was suspended for two months, but the film aired in 1999. Swayze recovered from his injuries, but he had trouble resuming his career until 2000, when he co-starred in Waking Up in Reno, with Billy Bob Thornton and Charlize Theron, and in Forever Lulu, with Melanie Griffith.
In 2001, he appeared in Donnie Darko, where he played a motivational speaker and closet pedophile, and in 2004, he played Allan Quatermain in King Solomon’s Mines. He also had a cameo appearance in the Dirty Dancing sequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights as an unnamed dance instructor.
Swayze made his West End theatre dÃ©but in the musical Guys and Dolls as Nathan Detroit on July 27, 2006,Â alongside Neil Jerzak, and remained in the role until November 25, 2006. His previous appearances on the Broadway stage had included productions of Goodtime Charley (1975) and Chicago (2003).
In 2007, Swayze starred in the film Christmas in Wonderland. Swayze played an ageing rock star in Powder Blue, co-starring his younger brother Don in their first film together. Swayze starred in the A&E FBI drama The Beast, filmed in Chicago, as FBI Agent Charles Barker.
Swayze was married to Lisa Niemi from June 12, 1975 until his death. The couple first met in 1970 when Swayze was 18 years old. Niemi, 14 years old at the time, was taking dance lessons from Swayze’s mother. Swayze and Niemi had no children.
As a reaction to his father’s death at age 57 from a heart attack in 1982, Swayze began to drink heavily. His sister Vicky committed suicide by overdose in 1994, leading him to seek treatment for alcoholism. After initial recovery, he temporarily withdrew from show business, retreating to his ranches in California and Las Vegas, New Mexico, to breed Arabian horses. His best-known horse was Tammen, a chestnut Arabian stallion.
Swayze, a licensed pilot with an instrument rating, made the news on June 1, 2000, while flying with his dogs in his twin-engine Cessna from Van Nuys, California to Las Vegas, New Mexico. His plane developed a pressurization problem over northern Arizona, causing Swayze to make a precautionary landing on a dirt road in a housing complex in Prescott Valley. The plane’s right wing struck a light pole that he hadn’t seen from the air, but Swayze was unharmed. He locked up the cockpit, left it parked in the subdivision, and obtained a ride (with his dogs) from a passing vehicle, allegedly in order to telephone the authorities. According to the police report, witnesses said that Swayze appeared to be extremely intoxicated and asked for help to remove evidence (including an open bottle of wine and a 30-pack of beer) from the crash site. He made himself unavailable to police for several hours. It was later determined that the alcohol in question was not in the cabin but stored in external storage compartments inaccessible in flight and that the alleged “intoxication” was due to the effects of hypoxia and carbon monoxide during descent.
Illness and death
Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late January 2008, and underwent chemotherapy and other treatments at the Stanford University Medical Center. On March 5, 2008, a Reuters article reported that Swayze “has a very limited amount of disease, and he appears to be responding well to treatment thus far”. Swayze’s doctor confirmed that the actor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but insisted he was not as close to death as reports suggest. Specifically, Swayze was diagnosed with a type of pancreatic tumor called intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm.
In early May 2008, it was widely reported in a number of tabloids that Swayze had undergone surgery to remove part of his stomach after the spread of the cancer and that he had rewritten his will, transferring his property to his wife. In a statement made on May 28, Swayze said that he continued to respond well to treatment at Stanford University Medical Center. In late May 2008, he was seen at a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game, his first public appearance since his diagnosis. In 2008 Swayze was treated with Cyberknife radiotherapy cancer treatment.
In late July 2008, six months after reportedly being given just weeks to live by medical experts, Swayze was asked by reporter in Los Angeles LAX airport about this health. He replied, “I’m cooking. I’m a miracle dude. I don’t know why”.
Swayze appeared on the ABC, NBC, and CBS simulcast of Stand Up to Cancer in September 2008, to appeal to the general public for donations for the initiative. Swayze said to a standing ovation “I dream that the word ‘cure’ will no longer be followed by the words ‘it’s impossible’. Together, we can make a world where cancer no longer means living with fear, without hope, or worse”. After the show ended, Swayze remained on-stage and talked to other cancer patients; executive producer Laura Ziskin said, “He said a beautiful thing: ‘I’m just an individual living with cancer’. That’s how he wants to be thought of. He’s in a fight, but he’s a fighter”.
In late 2008, Swayze denied claims made by tabloids that the cancer had spread to his liver. However, in an interview with Barbara Walters which aired in January 2009, Swayze admitted that he had a “tiny little mass” in his liver. On January 9, 2009, Swayze was hospitalized with pneumonia. The pneumonia was said to be a complication of chemotherapy treatments for Swayze’s cancer. On January 16, he was released from the hospital to rest at home with his wife. On April 19, 2009, doctors informed Swayze that the cancer had again metastasized to his liver. Swayze stated that his chain smoking probably “had something to do with” the development of his disease. Photos taken of a gaunt Swayze in the months before his death showed him continuing to smoke.
Swayze’s publicist, Annett Wolf confirmed to CNN that he had died of pancreatic cancer. Swayze died “with family at his side” on September 14, 2009, at age 57, twenty months after being diagnosed.
|1979||Skatetown, U.S.A.||Ace Johnson|
|1983||Uncommon Valor||Kevin Scott|
|The Outsiders||Darrel “Darry” Curtis|
|1984||Red Dawn||Jed Eckert|
|Grandview, U.S.A.||Ernie “Slam” Webster|
|1985||North and South||Orry Main||TV miniseries|
|North and South, Book II||Orry Main||TV miniseries|
|1987||Dirty Dancing||Johnny Castle||Nominated â€“ Golden Globe Award for Best Actor â€“ Motion Picture Musical or Comedy|
|1988||Tiger Warsaw||Chuck “Tiger” Warsaw|
|1989||Next of Kin||Truman Gates||Nominated â€“ Razzie Award for Worst Actor (also for Road House)|
|Road House||Dalton||Nominated â€“ Razzie Award for Worst Actor (also for Next of Kin)|
|1990||Ghost||Sam Wheat||Nominated â€“ Golden Globe Award for Best Actor â€“ Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated â€“ Saturn Award for Best Actor
|Saturday Night Live||Guest Host, Oct. 27, 1990||Memorable for sketch with Chris Farley auditioning to be Chippendales dancers|
|1991||Point Break||Bodhi||Nominated â€“ MTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Male|
|1992||City of Joy||Max Lowe|
|1993||Father Hood||Jack Charles|
|1994||Heaven & Hell: North and South, Book III||Orry Main||TV miniseries
Uncredited; archive footage from previous episodes
|1995||Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of
|Three Wishes||Jack McCloud|
|To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar||Vida Boheme||Nominated â€“ Golden Globe Award for Best Actor â€“ Motion Picture Musical or Comedy|
|1998||Letters from a Killer||Race Darnell|
|Black Dog||Jack Crews|
|2000||Forever Lulu||Ben Clifton|
|2001||Donnie Darko||Jim Cunningham|
|Green Dragon||Gunnery Sergeant Jim Lance|
|2002||Waking Up in Reno||Roy Kirkendall|
|2003||One Last Dance||Travis MacPhearson||Directed by his wife, Lisa|
|2004||Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights||Dance class instructor||Prequel to Dirty Dancing|
|George and the Dragon||Garth|
|King Solomon’s Mines||Allan Quatermain|
|2006||The Fox and the Hound 2||Cash (voice)||Animated film|
|Christmas in Wonderland||Wayne Saunders|
|2009||Powder Blue||Velvet Larry|
|The Beast||Charles Barker||TV series|