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Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze
Swayze greeting fans after Guys and Dolls, September 27, 2006
Born Patrick Wayne Swayze
(1952-08-18)August 18, 1952
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Died September 14, 2009(2009-09-14) (aged 57)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Pancreatic cancer
Resting place Cremated, ashes scattered at his New Mexico ranch
Nationality American
Education Waltrip High School
San Jacinto College
Occupation Actor, dancer, singer-songwriter
Years active 1979–2009
Spouse(s) Lisa Niemi (1975–2009, his death)
Parent(s) Jesse Wayne Swayze
Patsy Swayze
Relatives Don Swayze (brother)

Patrick Wayne Swayze (; August 18, 1952 – September 14, 2009) was an American actor, dancer, and singer-songwriter. Having gained fame with appearances in films during the 1980s, Swayze became popular for playing tough guys and romantic lead males, gaining him a wide fan base with female audiences, and status as a teen idol and sex symbol. He starred in films from a range of genres, including the drama The Outsiders (1983), the war film Red Dawn (1984), the romantic "coming-of-age" drama Dirty Dancing (1987), the action film Road House (1989), the romantic fantasy/crime thriller Ghost (1990), the action crime film Point Break (1991), the comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), the action film Black Dog (1998), the supernatural drama film Donnie Darko (2001), and the drama Jump! (2008), as well as in the television serials North and South and The Beast, his final role. During his career he received three Golden Globe Award nominations and was named by People magazine as its "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1991. He died in September 2009, at age 57, 20 months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Illness and death 4
  • Swayze in popular culture 5
    • Swayze in hip hop culture 5.1
    • Television 5.2
  • Filmography 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Patrick Swayze was born on August 18, 1952, in Houston, Texas, the second child of Patsy Yvonne Helen (née Karnes; 1927–2013), a choreographer, dance instructor, and dancer, and Jesse Wayne Swayze (1925–1982), an engineering draftsman.[1][2][3] He had two younger brothers, actor Don (born 1958) and Sean Kyle (born 1962), and two sisters, Vickie Lynn (1949–1994) and Bambi.[1][4] Swayze and his siblings were raised in their mother's Roman Catholic faith.[5]

Until the age of 20, Swayze lived in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston, where he attended St. Rose of Lima Catholic School,[6] Oak Forest Elementary School,[7] Black Middle School,[7][8] and Waltrip High School.[7] During this time, he pursued multiple artistic and athletic skills, such as ice skating, classical ballet, and acting in school plays. He played football for his high school and was hoping to receive a football scholarship for college until a knee injury ended his career. 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 then starred as a replacement playing the role of Danny Zuko in the long-running Broadway production of Grease[9] before his debut film role as "Ace" in Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979). He appeared as Pvt. Sturgis in the M*A*S*H episode "Blood Brothers" (1981)[10] as well as in the TV movie Return of the Rebels (1981) with Barbara Eden[11] and had a brief stint in 1982 on a short-lived TV series The Renegades[12] playing a gang leader named Bandit. Swayze became known to the film industry after appearing in The Outsiders (1983) as the older brother of C. Thomas Howell and Rob Lowe. Swayze, Howell, and Howell's friend Darren Dalton reunited in Red Dawn (1984) the next year, and Lowe and Swayze reunited in Youngblood (1986). His first major success was in the 1985 television miniseries North and South, which was set during the American Civil War.[13]

Swayze and Paula Abdul at the 1990 Grammy Awards

Swayze's breakthrough role came with his performance as dance instructor Johnny Castle in the film Dirty Dancing (1987), alongside his Red Dawn co-star, Jennifer Grey. Dirty Dancing, a coming of age story, was a low-budget film 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 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 and spawned several alternative versions, ranging from a television series to stage productions to computer game. Swayze received a Golden Globe Award nomination for the role and 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. (1984) The song became a top-10 hit and has been covered by other artists.

After Dirty Dancing, Swayze found himself in great acting demand and appeared in several films, of which Road House (1989) was the most successful. His biggest role came when he starred in Ghost (1990) with Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg.[14] In 1991, he starred alongside Youngblood castmate Keanu Reeves in another major action hit, Point Break, and he was chosen by People magazine as that year's "Sexiest Man Alive".

For his contributions to the film industry, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997.[15]

Swayze was seriously injured in 1998 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, and the film aired in 1999. Swayze 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 the cult classic Donnie Darko, wherein he played a famous motivational speaker revealed to be a closet 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 Quartermain in King Solomon's Mines and had a cameo appearance in the Dirty Dancing sequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, as an unnamed dance instructor.

Swayze made his West End theatre début in the musical Guys and Dolls as Nathan Detroit on July 27, 2006,[16][17][18] 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)[19] 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 in the A&E FBI drama The Beast,[20] filmed in Chicago, as FBI Agent Charles Barker.[21]

Personal life

Swayze and his wife, Lisa Niemi, arrive at the 1989 Academy Awards ceremony

Swayze was married to Lisa Niemi from June 12, 1975. The couple first met in 1970, when Swayze was 18 years old. Niemi, 15 years old at the time, was taking dance lessons from Swayze's mother. Swayze and Niemi had no children.[22] In a 2008 interview, Swayze stated that Niemi was the inspiration for his hit song, "She's Like the Wind" (1987).

As a reaction to his father's death in 1982, at age 57 from a heart attack, Swayze began to drink heavily.[23] In 1989, Swayze said, "I've always felt there was something different in there (my personality), but I was scared to look for 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."[24] He also had said how he is interested in and loves looking into different [religious] belief systems and faith, how it matters to other people, and how these various religious teachings are important to him in his world.[25] His sister Vicky committed suicide by drug overdose in 1994,[23] leading him to seek treatment for alcoholism by going into rehab. 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.[26]

Swayze, who was a certified 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, 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. He locked the cockpit, left the aircraft 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—an open bottle of wine and a 30-pack of beer—from the crash site.[27] 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 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.[28]

Illness and death

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.[29] Three weeks later, in mid-January 2008, he was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer (specifically, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm). 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.[30] 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."[31] 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.[32]

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 cancer's spread and that he had rewritten his will, transferring his property to his wife.[33][34] 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.[35] In 2008 Swayze was treated with Cyberknife radiotherapy cancer treatment.[36]

In late July 2008, six months after reportedly being given just weeks to live by medical experts, a seemingly healthy Swayze was asked by reporter in Los Angeles airport about his health. He replied, "I'm cooking. I'm a miracle dude. I don't know why."[37][38]

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."[39] 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."[39][40] On December 2, 2008, Swayze denied claims made by tabloids that the cancer had spread to his liver.[41]

Swayze told Barbara Walters in January 2009 that he wanted the media to report that he was "kicking it".[42] When Walters asked him if he was using any holistic or alternative methods of treatment besides the chemotherapy, Swayze said he was using some Chinese herbs. He then voiced his opposition to the unsupported claims made by proponents of alternative therapies.

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 in early June the show was canceled due to poor ratings.[43] 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 for Swayze's cancer.[44] On January 16, he was released from the hospital to rest at home with his wife.[45] On April 19, 2009, doctors informed Swayze that the cancer had again metastasized to his liver.[46] 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.[47][48] In August 2009, he was hospitalized for a week with intestinal bleeding.

Swayze died, with family at his side, on September 14, 2009, at age 57, 20 months after being diagnosed.[49][50][51] Swayze's publicist confirmed to CNN that he had died of pancreatic cancer.[52] He was cremated, and his ashes scattered over his New Mexico ranch. He was survived by his wife Lisa Niemi, his mother Patsy Swayze, and three siblings.

Swayze in popular culture

Swayze in hip hop culture

Swayze's name has become a commonly used term in hip hop songs.[53] 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 begun in the early 1990s, by rappers such as EPMD, Black Sheep, CL Smooth. Its use continued into the mid-nineties and the 2000s with use by such rappers as The Notorious B.I.G. in 2Pac's song "Runnin' (Dying to Live)", Method Man, Aesop Rock, Mistah F.A.B.'s "Ghost Ride It", and in Bad Meets Evil's "Fast Lane".

  • Rapper Doe B has a song titled "Patrick Swayze".


  • The seventh season of Trailer Park Boys had an overarching plot line of a drug smuggling operation that involves a model train engine that supposedly belonged to Swayze, named "The Swayzie Express". Swayze was not actually involved with the production in any way, and there were disclaimers to this effect before every episode of the season.
  • "Family Guy" spoofed the relationship Swayze had with his female co-star in "Dirty Dancing" in the season six episode "Padre de Familia."


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Skatetown, U.S.A. Ace Johnson
1980 The Comeback Kid Chuck TV movie
1981 M*A*S*H Pvt. Gary Sturgis TV Series Season 9 Episode 18 - "Blood Brothers"
Return of the Rebels K.C. Barnes TV movie
1983 Uncommon Valor Kevin Scott
The Outsiders Darrel "Darry" Curtis
Renegades Bandit
1984 Red Dawn Jed Eckert
Grandview, U.S.A. Ernie "Slam" Webster
1985 North and South Orry Main TV miniseries
1986 Youngblood Derek Sutton
North and South, Book II Orry Main TV miniseries
1987 Dirty Dancing Johnny Castle Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Steel Dawn Nomad
1988 Tiger Warsaw Chuck "Tiger" Warsaw
1989 Next of Kin Truman Gates Nominated - Razzie Award for Worst Actor
Road House James Dalton
1990 Ghost Sam Wheat Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Actor
Saturday Night Live Guest Host, October 27, 1990 Memorable for sketch with Chris Farley auditioning to be Chippendales dancers
1991 Point Break Bodhi Nominated – 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
Pecos Bill
Pecos Bill
Three Wishes Jack McCloud
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar Vida Boheme Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1998 Letters from a Killer Race Darnell
Black Dog Jack Crews
2000 Forever Lulu aka Along For the Ride 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
11:14 Frank
2004 Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights Dance class instructor Prequel to Dirty Dancing
George and the Dragon Garth
King Solomon's Mines Allan Quatermain
2005 Keeping Mum Lance
Icon Jason Monk
2006 The Fox and the Hound 2 Cash (voice) Animated film
2007 Jump! Richard Pressburger
Christmas in Wonderland Wayne Saunders
2009 Powder Blue Velvet Larry
The Beast Charles Barker TV series

See also


  1. ^ a b Biography at Don Swayze's Official Site.
  2. ^ "Patrick Swayze Biography". Film Reference. 
  3. ^ "Ancestry of Patrick Swayze". 
  4. ^ Bernstein, Adam (September 15, 2009). "Patrick Swayze, 57". Washington Post. Retrieved May 17, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Hollywood rallies around Patrick Swayze as he vows to continue work during his cancer battle". London:  :("Swayze was raised Roman Catholic.")
  6. ^ "Patrick Swayze".  
  7. ^ a b c Distinguished Houston Independent School District Alumni. Retrieved on April 20, 2009.
  8. ^ "F.M. Black Middle School, Houston, Texas - General Information. Retrieved on April 20, 2009.
  9. ^ : Replacement Cast"Grease".  
  10. ^ (episode #9.18)"M*A*S*H". IMDb. April 6, 1981. 
  11. ^ : Full credits"Return of the Rebels". IMDb. 
  12. ^ (TV series)"The Renegades". Internet Movie Database. 
  13. ^ (in German) Patrick Swayze - Biografie auf
  14. ^  
  15. ^ "Patrick Swayze".  
  16. ^ "Swayze Set To Make West End Début". BBC News. June 2, 2006. Retrieved June 18, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Guys and Dolls"Patrick Swayze Postpones Run in West End . July 7, 2006. Retrieved April 22, 2009. 
  18. ^ Nathan, John (July 27, 2006). July 27"Guys and Dolls"Swayze Makes London Debut in . Playbill. Retrieved June 18, 2009. 
  19. ^ : Opening Night Cast"Goodtime Charley".  
  20. ^ Bryant, Adam (November 25, 2008). "Patrick Swayze Wraps Filming on New TV Show". TV Guide. Retrieved November 26, 2008. 
  21. ^ Lafayette, Jon (June 7, 2008). "A&E Puts Swayze's 'Beast' Into Production". Retrieved May 29, 2009. 
  22. ^ "Patrick Swayze Battling Pancreatic Cancer".  
  23. ^ a b Middlehurst, Lester (November 29, 2005). "Drink, Suicide and Why I Turned Against Hollywood". London:  
  24. ^ "Patrick Swayze - Trying to make all the right moves - The former dancer is still fighting for some respect".  
  25. ^ Video on YouTube
  26. ^ "Actor, dancer, equestrian Patrick Swayze dies at age 57". Online Horsetrader. October 1, 2009. 
  27. ^ "Prescott Valley Police Department Report".  
  28. ^ "NTSB Identification: LAX00FA213". 
  29. ^
  30. ^ Mann, Denise (September 2009). "Patrick Swayze Dies of Pancreatic Cancer - Star Had Advanced Pancreatic Cancer, Served as Cancer Research Advocate". 
  31. ^ Whitcomb, Dan (March 5, 2008). Star Patrick Swayze Has Cancer"Dirty Dancing". Reuters. 
  32. ^ Huso, Deborah (September 2009). "Patrick Swayze Dies from Pancreatic Cancer". AOL Health. Retrieved September 2009. 
  33. ^ Hall, Christi (May 9, 2008). "Patrick Swayze Continues His Brave Battle With Cancer". The National Ledger. Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  34. ^ "Patrick Swayze Transfers Millions to Wife". One India. May 7, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2009. 
  35. ^ "'"Patrick Swayze 'Responding Well. BBC News. May 28, 2008. Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  36. ^ Thomas, Liz (July 21, 2008). "Patrick Swayze Has Cyberknife Radiotherapy". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved May 29, 2009. 
  37. ^ Anita Singh (July 21, 2008). "Patrick Swayze says he is a 'miracle' following treatment for pancreatic cancer". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  38. ^ "Patrick Swayze: ‘I’m A Miracle’". Access Hollywood. July 22, 2008. Retrieved June 4, 2009. 
  39. ^ a b "Dreaming of a Cure". People Magazine. September 22, 2008. Retrieved May 29, 2009.  (Swayze on Stand Up to Cancer).
  40. ^ "'"Swayze 'May Live Only Two Years. BBC News. January 7, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  41. ^ "'"Patrick Swayze Calls Tabloid Reports on Condition 'Lies. TV Guide. December 2, 2008. Retrieved December 3, 2008. 
  42. ^ "Patrick Swayze: The Truth — A Barbara Walters Special" (video).  
  43. ^ "A&E's 'Beast' gets canceled".  
  44. ^ Santos, Kristin Dos; Godwin, Jennifer (January 9, 2009) "Patrick Swayze Hospitalized With Pneumonia". E! Entertainment.
  45. ^ "Actor Patrick Swayze Released From Hospital".  
  46. ^ King, Tim (April 19, 2009). Patrick Swayze Gravely Ill But Very Much Alive Salem (Oregon) News. April 19, 2009.
  47. ^ MacIntyre, April (January 8, 2009). "Patrick Swayze's Smoking Regrets".  
  48. ^ "Gaunt Patrick Swayze Defiantly Chain-Smokes As He Battles Cancer". London: Daily Mail. February 14, 2009. Retrieved May 29, 2009. 
  49. ^ "Actor Patrick Swayze Dies at 57". CBS. September 14, 2009. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
  50. ^ Lemire, Christie. "'Dirty Dancing' star Patrick Swayze at 57". Seattle Times. September 14, 2009.
  51. ^ "US film star Patrick Swayze dies." BBC. September 15, 2009.
  52. ^ "Patrick Swayze dies of cancer at 57". September 14, 2009.
  53. ^ "Patrick Swayze: Hip Hop Icon". Ivan. September 14, 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2011. 

External links

Preceded by
Tom Cruise
People's Sexiest Man Alive
Succeeded by
Nick Nolte
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