Monday, September 14, 2009
Patrick Swayze Has Died
Patrick Swayze died today at the age of 57.
Swayze was born on August 18, 1952 in Houston, Texas, the son of Patricia "Patsy" Yvonne Helen a choreographer, dance instructor, and dancer—and Jesse Wayne Swayze, an engineering drafter. He has two younger brothers, actor Don and Sean Kyle (born October 13, 1962), and two sisters, Vicky Lynn and Bambi, who were adopted into the family.
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 debut film role as "Ace" in Skatetown, U.S.A.. He also appeared as Pvt. Sturgis in the M*A*S*H episode Blood Brothers 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. That was one of my favorite books when I was a young teenager but I didn't see the movie until last year when I substituted for an English teacher.
Swayze, Howell, and Howell's friend Darren Dalton reunited in Red Dawn the next year, and Lowe and Swayze reunited in Youngblood, where he was considered a member of the Brat Pack, but his first major success was in the 1985 television miniseries North and South, which was set during the American Civil War. North and South was a great book series by John Jakes whom I really loved.
Swayze's breakthrough role came with his performance as dance instructor Johnny Castle in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, alongside 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. I can still remember being a cocktail waitress that summer and we had "Dirty Dancing" nights when they played "Time of Your Life" and you competed for the best dancing couple. I can't watch a Sandals commercial and not think about that summer.
Swayze has been married to Lisa Niemi since June 12, 1975. 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 have no children.
Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late January 2008, and has undergone chemotherapy and other treatments at the Stanford University Medical Center. 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 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 died today of pancreatic cancer