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Patrick Swayze: 24 Facts

2009-09-18 10:14

Patrick Swayze, the star of hit movies such as Dirty Dancing and Ghost, died this week after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57.

While Swayze’s prognosis was never good once his condition was made public, the news of his death is still devastating to a generation for which the line "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" and the art of pottery came to take on great significance throughout the 80s and 90s. His physical prowess on screen as the romantic leading man, action hero, dance instructor, Lothario and even a drag queen, is still mesmerising to behold years later. We take a look back at his short, but inspirational life.

1. Patrick Swayze was born on August 18, 1952 in Houston, Texas, the eldest child of a choreographer and dancer mother, Patsy Yvonne Helen, and an engineering draftsman father, Jesse Wayne.

2. He had two younger brothers, actor Don (born 1958) and Sean Kyle (born 1962), and two adopted sisters, Vicky Lynn (1949-1994) and Bambi.

3. He studied dance and ballet in high school and in 1972, he moved to New York City to complete his formal dance training at the Harkness Ballet and Joffrey ballet schools.

4. Swayze married Lisa Niemi on June 12, 1975. The couple first met in 1970 when Swayze was 18 years old. Lisa Niemi, 14 years old at the time and was taking dance lessons from Swayze's mother. They had no children and were married for 34 years.

5. His first professional appearance was as a dancer. He played "Prince Charming" in "Disney on Parade".

6. He made his film debut as "Ace" in Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979) a film directed by William A. Levey which centered around the popularity of roller disco.

7. His first major success was in the 1985 television miniseries North and South, set during the American Civil War.

8. He starred with Rob Lowe in Youngblood (1986) and was considered a member of the Brat Pack.

7. Patrick's breakthrough role came with his performance as dance instructor Johnny Castle in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, alongside Jennifer Grey. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role. It was the first film to sell one million copies on video, and the cheesy "She's Like the Wind," from the soundtrack (sung by Swayze) became a top ten hit in the USA.

8. He received a Razzie Award for the Worst Actor for two movies: Road House and Next of Kin. He also made another horrible movie, a post-apololyptic thing in which he is naked in the bath in one scene.

9. He was known for saying "Good-looking people turn me off. Myself included."

10. His biggest hit came in 1990, when he starred in Ghost, with Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg.

11. Ghost inserted him into modern hip-hop lyrics where the phrase "I'm Swayze" (means "I'm ghost," which is in turn slang for "I'm leaving").
12. In 1991, he starred alongside Youngblood castmate Keanu Reeves in another major action hit, Point Break, and was also chosen by People magazine as  that year's "Sexiest Man Alive."

13. When his sister Vicky committed suicide in 1994 he sought treatment for alcoholism, a condition which started with the death of his father in 1984.

14. After initial recovery, he temporarily withdrew from show business, retreating to breed Arabian horses. His best-known horse was Tammen, a chestnut Arabian stallion.

15. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for the movie To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! (1995) playing Julie Newmar in which he played a transvestite.

16. He was seriously injured in 1996 while filming HBO's Letters from a Killer, 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.

17. He resumed his career in 2000 when he co-starred in a comedy flop called Waking Up in Reno, along with Billy Bob Thornton and Charlize Theron, who played his wife.

18. Swayze, a licensed pilot with an instrument rating, made the news on June 1, 2000, while flying with his dogs when he had to crash land his plane and hitch a lift - with his dogs.

19. In 2001, he appeared in the acclaimed movie Donnie Darko, starring alongside Jake Gyllenhall and Drew Barrymore, where he played a motivational speaker and closet paedophile.
20. In 2004, he played Allan Quartermain in King Solomon's Mines. He also had a cameo appearance in the Dirty Dancing prequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights as an unnamed dance instructor.

21. In 2007 he played an ageing rock star in Powder Blue, co-starring his younger brother Don in their first film together.

22. In January 2008 he was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer.

23. His last role was the lead in an A&E TV series, The Beast, which premiered on January 15, 2009. Due to his illness he was unable to promote the series, and in June 2009 the show was cancelled.

24. He became known in Hollywood as the King of Sleepers because two of his most successful movies – Dirty Dancing and Ghost – were both initially not expected to be big movies but eventually went on to become classics.

A look back at the life of one of Hollywood's nice guys, who died this week after a long battle with cancer.

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