Patrick Wayne Swayze (//; August 18, 1952 – September 14, 2009) was an American actor, dancer, singer, and songwriter. Gaining fame with appearances in films during the 1980s, he became popular for playing tough guys and romantic male leads, giving him a wide fan base with female audiences and a status as a sex symbol. He was named by People magazine as its Sexiest Man Alive in 1991.
Swayze in 1990
Patrick Bartholemew Swayze
August 18, 1952
Houston, Texas, U.S.
|Died||September 14, 2009 57) (aged|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Ashes scattered on his New Mexico ranch|
|Alma mater||San Jacinto College|
Lisa Niemi (m. 1975)
|Parent(s)||Jesse Wayne Swayze|
|Relatives||Don Swayze (brother)|
During his career, Swayze received three Golden Globe Award nominations, for Dirty Dancing (1987), Ghost (1990), and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995). He wrote and recorded the popular song "She's Like the Wind" and was posthumously awarded the Rolex Dance Award in 2009.
Swayze suffered an early death in 2009 from cancer. He was 57 years old.
Patrick Wayne Swayze was born on August 18, 1952 in Houston, Texas, the second child of Patsy Swayze (née Karnes; 1927–2013), a choreographer, dance instructor, and dancer, and Jesse Wayne Swayze (1925–1982), an engineering draftsman. He had an older sister, Vickie (1949–1994), two younger brothers, actor Don (born 1958) and Sean (born 1962), and one younger sister, Bambi. Swayze's direct paternal ancestor was Englishman John Swasey (1619–1706) from Bridport in Dorset. During the great migration, Swasey travelled aboard The Recovery arriving at Massachusetts. He married Katherine Kinge from Essex and eventually had seven children. The grandson Samuel was among the first to use the Swayze spelling.
Until age 20, 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 pursued multiple artistic and athletic skills, such as ice skating, classical ballet, and acting in school plays. He also played football during high school, hoping to receive a football scholarship for college until a knee injury ended his career, and also concurrently practiced martial arts such as Wushu, Taekwondo and Aikido, which he used to channel his "self-deprecating rage". In 1972, he moved to New York City to complete his formal dance training at the Harkness Ballet and Joffrey Ballet schools.
Patrick Swayze's first professional appearance was as a dancer for the Disney Theatrical Group in a show called Disney on Parade. He then starred in the role of Danny Zuko in one of the replacement casts for the long-running Broadway production of Grease In 1979, he made his film debut as "Ace" in Skatetown, U.S.A.. He appeared in the poignant M*A*S*H episode Blood Brothers in 1981 as Private Sturgis, whose wounds are minor, but which lead to the discovery that he is terminally ill with cancer. That same year he appeared in the TV movie Return of the Rebels with Barbara Eden, and then had a brief stint in 1983 on a short-lived TV series The Renegades, playing a gang leader named Bandit.
Swayze became better known to the film industry after appearing in The Outsiders in 1983 as the older brother of C. Thomas Howell and Rob Lowe. The same year, Swayze played a U.S.M.C. trainer in Vietnam rescue film Uncommon Valor with Gene Hackman. The following year, Swayze, Howell, and Howell's friend and fellow The Outsiders actor Darren Dalton reunited in Red Dawn, along with Jennifer Grey. In 1986, Lowe and Swayze reunited in Youngblood. Swayze's first major dramatic success was in the 1985 television miniseries North and South, set during the American Civil War.
However, Swayze is probably best remembered for what was actually a low-budget movie, planned for only a one-week release, after which it was to go to video. Instead, Dirty Dancing propelled him to fame in 1987 playing resort dance instructor Johnny Castle, alongside his Red Dawn co-star Jennifer Grey. The story enabled Swayze to dance and romance Grey as well as showcasing his professional dance training. In addition to acting and dancing, Swayze co-composed and sang one of the songs on the soundtrack for Dirty Dancing, "She's Like the Wind". The song became a top-10 hit that has been covered by other artists since. Swayze had originally co-written the song with Stacy Widelitz for the film Grandview, U.S.A. in 1984.
Dirty Dancing's coming of age story first became a surprise hit, and then achieved enormous international success. It was the first film to sell one million copies on video, and as of 2009, it had earned over $214 million worldwide. The film also generated several alternative, or derivative versions, ranging from a television series to stage productions to a computer game. Swayze received a Golden Globe Award nomination for the role. The film was re-released briefly in 1997 for its tenth anniversary.
After Dirty Dancing, Swayze found himself in great demand, and appeared in several films, including Road House in 1989 with Sam Elliott, Ben Gazzara and Kelly Lynch. His next big role came when he starred in Ghost (1990) with Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. In 1991, he starred alongside Youngblood castmate Keanu Reeves in another major action hit, Point Break, and he was also chosen that year by People magazine as that year's "Sexiest Man Alive".
In 2003, Swayze co-produced and also starred in the fictional dance film One Last Dance, along with his real-life wife Lisa Niemi and a talented cast. The story revolves around an actual dance production, "Without a Word", which had been choreographed by Alonzo King. Swayze and Niemi also produced the film, starred in it, and composed some of the music.
For his contributions to the film industry, Swayze was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997.
Swayze was seriously injured in May 1997 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. The film aired in 1998, and Swayze slowly recovered from his injuries, but he had trouble resuming his career until 2000, when he co-starred in Forever Lulu, with Melanie Griffith.
In 2001, he appeared in Donnie Darko, where he played a famous motivational speaker revealed to be a closeted pedophile. In 2002, he co-starred with Billy Bob Thornton and Charlize Theron in Waking Up in Reno, which focuses on two redneck couples taking a road trip from Little Rock to Reno to see a monster truck rally. In 2004, he played Allan Quatermain in King Solomon's Mines and had a cameo appearance in the Dirty Dancing prequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights as an unnamed dance instructor.
Swayze made his debut in London's West End in the musical Guys and Dolls as Nathan Detroit on July 27, 2006, 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 in 1975 and Chicago.
Swayze also provided the voice for Cash the country music band dog in The Fox and the Hound 2 (2006), and in 2007 he starred in the film Christmas in Wonderland. Swayze played an aging rock star in Powder Blue (2008), co-starring his younger brother Don in their first film together.
In his final role, Swayze starred as FBI Agent Charles Barker in the A&E FBI drama The Beast, which was filmed in Chicago. Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer shortly after filming the pilot episode of The Beast, but continued working on the show while receiving treatment. The Beast premiered on January 15, 2009 and ran for one season. Reviewer Alan Sepinwall wrote:
[When] you watch Swayze in The Beast, [you] realize that this is the best performance of his career—that the opportunity to play a part like this, and to play it as well as he is, may be fueling his ability to keep fighting against the cancer. And you realize, in an odd silver lining, that the cancer may, in turn, be fueling the performance.
Swayze was married to Lisa Niemi for 34 years from June 12, 1975, until his death, and they had no children, but Lisa had suffered one miscarriage. They met in 1970 when Swayze was 18 years old. Niemi, 14 years old at the time, was taking dance lessons from Swayze's mother. In a 2008 interview, Swayze stated that Niemi was the inspiration for his hit song, "She's Like the Wind" (1987).
In 1989, Swayze said, "I've always felt there was something different in there (my personality), but I was scared to look. For I fear I wouldn't find anything. That's the reason I got into Buddhism, took EST training, was into therapy, into Scientology, into Transcendental Meditation. I was trying to support that side of myself. But, you know, in Texas there isn't much support for that part of you." He also had said he was interested in and loved looking into different [religious] belief systems and faith[s], how it matters to other people, and how these various religious teachings are important to him in his world.
Swayze entered rehab treatment for alcoholism in the 1990s. After an 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, who was an FAA licensed pilot with an instrument rating, made the news on June 1, 2000, while flying with his dogs in his twin-engine Cessna 414 N414PS, from Van Nuys, California, to Las Vegas, New Mexico. His plane developed a pressurization problem, causing Swayze to make a precautionary landing on a dirt road in a housing complex in Prescott Valley, Arizona. The plane's right wing struck a light pole, but Swayze was unharmed. According to the police report, witnesses said that Swayze appeared to be extremely intoxicated and asked for help to remove evidence from the crash site (an open bottle of wine and a 30-pack of beer). 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 the probable cause of the accident was Swayze's physical impairment due to the cumulative effects of carbon monoxide from engine exhaust by-products, carbon monoxide from heavy tobacco use, and the loss of an undetermined amount of cabin pressurization, resulting in hypoxia.
Illness and death
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In late December 2007, just after filming the pilot episode for The Beast, Swayze began to suffer a burning feeling in his stomach caused by a blockage of his bile ducts. Three weeks later, in mid-January 2008, he was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. He traveled to the Stanford University Medical Center for chemotherapy and treatment with the experimental drug vatalanib which doctors hoped would cut off the blood supply to the tumor.
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 suggested. Despite repeated tabloid claims that his death was imminent, Swayze continued to actively pursue his career.
In early May 2008, it was widely reported in a number of tabloids that Swayze underwent surgery to remove part of his stomach after the cancer spread. Reports also stated that he rewrote his will, transferring his property to his wife. In a statement made on May 28, Swayze said 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 late July 2008, six months after reportedly being given just weeks to live by medical experts, a seemingly healthy Swayze was asked by a reporter in a Los Angeles airport about his health. He replied, "I'm cooking. I'm a miracle, dude. I don't know why." The previous month, he reportedly said, "My treatments are working and I am winning the battle."
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 onstage and talked to other cancer patients; executive producer Laura Ziskin (herself battling advanced breast cancer, which would claim her own life) 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." On December 2, 2008, Swayze denied claims made by tabloids that the cancer had spread to his liver.
In an interview with Barbara Walters which aired in January 2009, Swayze admitted that he had a "tiny little mass" in his liver, but told Walters that he wanted the media to report that he was "kicking it". When Walters asked him if he was using any holistic or alternative methods of treatment besides chemotherapy, Swayze said he was using some Chinese herbs. He then voiced his opposition to the unsupported claims made by proponents of alternative therapies.
On January 9, 2009, Swayze was hospitalized with pneumonia. The pneumonia was said to be a complication of chemotherapy 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 had been a heavy smoker for forty years, and he once admitted to smoking 60 cigarettes a day. He 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 died, with family at his side, on September 14, 2009, at the age of 57. Swayze's death occurred 20 months after his cancer diagnosis. Swayze's publicist confirmed to CNN that he had died of pancreatic cancer. His body was cremated, and his ashes were scattered over his New Mexico ranch.
In popular culture
Swayze's name has become a commonly used term in hip hop songs. Lyrics will use the phrase "...and I'm Swayze", meaning that the speaker has become "like a ghost", meaning he disappeared or is otherwise gone. This is a reference to the title character of Swayze's film Ghost (1990). It began in the early 1990s, by rappers such as EPMD, Black Sheep, and CL Smooth. The use of Swayze's name has continued to be used by such rappers as The Notorious B.I.G. in 2Pac's song "Runnin' (Dying to Live)", Sir Mix-a-Lot in "Swap Meet Louie", Chali 2na in "So Crazy", Method Man, Aesop Rock, Mistah F.A.B.'s "Ghost Ride It", Bad Meets Evil's "Fast Lane", Denzel Curry, and in Mobb Deep's song "The Start of Your Ending (41st Side)", as well as Frank Ocean's song “Swim Good”. Swayze himself appeared in the music video for Ja Rule's song "Murder Reigns". The most recent usage of Swayze's name is in the Eminem diss "Killshot".
In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring the film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, the character Crow T. Robot writes a Christmas carol centered around Swayze's movie Road House titled "Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas". He is also the subject of many episodes in season 7 of the Canadian TV show "Trailer Park Boys".
|1979||Skatetown, U.S.A.||Ace Johnson||Film debut|
|1983||The Outsiders||Darrel "Darry" Curtis|
|1983||Uncommon Valor||Kevin Scott|
|1984||Grandview, U.S.A.||Ernie "Slam" Webster|
|1984||Red Dawn||Jed Eckert|
|1987||Dirty Dancing||Johnny Castle|
|1988||Tiger Warsaw||Chuck "Tiger" Warsaw|
|1989||Road House||James Dalton|
|1989||Next of Kin||Truman Gates|
|1992||City of Joy||Max Lowe|
|1993||Father Hood||Jack Charles|
|1995||Tall Tale||Pecos Bill||Alternate title: Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of Pecos Bill|
|1995||To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar||Vida Boheme|
|1995||Three Wishes||Jack McCloud|
|1998||Black Dog||Jack Crews|
|1998||Letters from a Killer||Race Darnell|
|2000||Forever Lulu||Ben Clifton|
|2001||Green Dragon||Gunner Sergeant Jim Lance|
|2001||Donnie Darko||Jim Cunningham|
|2002||Waking Up in Reno||Roy Kirkendall|
|2003||One Last Dance||Travis MacPhearson||Also producer|
|2004||Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights||Dance Class Instructor|
|2004||’’King Solomon’s Mines’’||Renowned adventurer|
|2004||George and the Dragon||Garth||Alternate title: Dragon Sword|
|2006||The Fox and the Hound 2||Cash||Voice|
|2007||Christmas in Wonderland||Wayne Saunders|
|2009||Powder Blue||Velvet Larry||Final film role|
|1980||The Comeback Kid||Chuck||Television debut|
|1981||M*A*S*H||Private Gary Sturgis||Episode: "Blood Brother"|
|1981||Return of the Rebels||K.C. Barnes||Television movie|
|1983||The Renegades||Bandit||Series regular; 6 episodes|
|1984||Pigs vs. Freaks||Doug Zimmer||Television movie|
|1985||North and South, Book I||Orry Main||Television miniseries; 6 episodes|
|1986||North and South, Book II||Orry Main||Television miniseries; 6 episodes|
|1986||Amazing Stories||Eric David Peterson||Episode: "Life on Death Row"|
|1990||Saturday Night Live||Himself (Host)||Episode: "Patrick Swayze/Mariah Carey"|
Notable comedy sketch performance with comedian Chris Farley of Chippendales dancers
|2000–2003||Scruff||Uncle Ron||Voice role|
|2004||King Solomon's Mines||Allan Quartermain||Television miniseries; 2 episodes|
|2004||Whoopi||Tony||Episode: "One Last Dance"|
|2005||Icon||Jason Monk||Television movie|
|2009||The Beast||Charles Barker / Apache||Series regular; 13 episodes|
Awards and nominations
Swayze received multiple awards and nominations throughout his career for his work both film and television. During his film career he received three Golden Globe award nominations for Best Lead Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical for his roles in Dirty Dancing, Ghost and To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything!, Julie Newmar. In 1996 he was immortalized when Swayze received his star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to Motion Picture, located at 7018 Hollywood, Blvd.
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