He went form Broadway dancer to Hollywood heartthrob starring in two of the most beloved love stories ever put on film. Today, watchmojo.com would be remembering the life and career of the late Patrick Swayze.
Born on August 18th, 1952 in Houston, Texas to an engineer and a dance choreographer, Swayze eventually became a student of his mother’s dance school. Though involved in several sports, dancing was a special interest to him. He eventually took positions a t several ballet companies and this prompted a move to New York City to complete his formal dance training. After several small roles on television, Patrick Swayze launched his film career in 1979 in the rock and roll disco movie “Skate Town USA”. Swayze then landed major roles in two back to back movies, focused on groups of young men. The first role was as Darrel Curtis in the 1983 film adaptation of “The Outsiders”.
This success was quickly followed with “Red Dawn” in which he again took a leadership role. This time, he let a group of teenagers that used guerrilla warfare to fight off a Russian invasion. In 1987, after several years of work between movies and television, he received a Golden Globe Nomination for his role as dance instructor Johnny castle in the cult –romantic classic “Dirty Dancing”. The film was an unexpected Juggernaut at the Box Office despite being under-funded and was expected to fail by its production house. The success of the film catapulted Swayze into super stardom. He even received recognition for the song he co-wrote and sang for the film soundtrack “She’s like the wind”, which landed on the radio’s top ten list.
His breakout fame was then followed by a string of flops which shamelessly tried to capitalize on the success of “Dirty Dancing”. The most well-received of this was 1989’s “Road House” in which he starred as a bouncer brought in to resolve a club’s problems. The film attracted many viewers for its over-the-top violence and was advertised with the tag line, "The dancing is over, now let’s get dirty.” Despite being heavily typecast to his previous success, he finally broke free by playing the role of the spirit Sam Litt in the unprecedented 1990 Box Office Hit “Ghost”.
Alongside “Dirty Dancing”, this film made it on to the list of the top 100 Love Stories ever told in cinema. Patrick Swayze maintained his reputation as a star throughout the 90’s even starring opposite Keanu Reeves as the villain in the 1991 action movie “Point Break” and was chosen that year by People Magazine as the Year’s Sexiest Man Alive. Aside from his romance and action films, many finally remember Swayze’s comedy outings. Swayze appeared several times as a guest on Saturday Night Live, most famously in the Chippendale’s dance off skit opposite Chris Farley. In 1995, Swayze starred in the comedy about a group of men entering a dry clean contest in To Wong Foo “Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar”.
Despite the glamour and the laughs, Swayze had been facing several crisis throughout the better part of his career. In 1982, his father died of a heart attack at the young age of 57. This lead Swayze to drink heavily and eventually seek treatment after his sister Vicky died from an overdose in 1994. Another major turning point for Swayze came when he was seriously injured in a horse-riding accident while filming HBO’s “Letters from a Killer”. The fall resulted in both his legs being broken and four detached tendons in his shoulders. Upon returning, Swayze mostly took on supporting roles such as a speaker and closet pedophile in “Donnie Dorko” and an unnamed dance instructor in the Dirty Dancing sequel “Havana Nights”. His final acting role was in the television series “The Beast” in which Swayze played an FBI agent who applied controversial methods to bring criminals to justice. Few in Hollywood have shown themselves to be as multi-talented as Patrick Swayze. He’s a cultural icon that helped define a generation and he will be missed.