Patrick Wayne Swayze ( ;
August 18, 1952 – September 14, 2009) was an American actor, dancer and singer-songwriter.
best-known for his roles as romantic leading men in the films
and as Orry Main in the
television miniseries. He was named by People
magazine as its "Sexiest Man
Alive" in 1991.
Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic
in early 2008
. He continued acting
until 2009, when he became too ill to do so. Later the same year he
died from the disease.
Swayze was born on August 18, 1952 in Houston, Texas, the
second child of Patricia "Patsy" Yvonne Helen (née Karnes; born
1927), a choreographer, dance
instructor, and dancer, and Jesse Wayne Swayze (1925–1982), an
He had two younger brothers, actor
(born 1958) and Sean Kyle
(born 1962), and two sisters, Vickie Lynn (1949–1994) and Bambi
(who was adopted). Swayze was a sixth cousin once removed of
commentator John Cameron Swayze
and a relative of noted Texas
age of twenty, 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 also pursued multiple
artistic and athletic skills, such as ice
, classical ballet
acting in school plays. He played football for his high school and
was hoping to receive a football scholarship to college until a
knee injury ended his career. He studied gymnastics at nearby
San Jacinto College
In 1972, he moved to New York City to complete his formal dance
training at the Harkness Ballet
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 début
film role as "Ace" in Skatetown,
He appeared as Pvt. Sturgis in the
" 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
older brother of C. Thomas Howell
. Swayze, Howell, and Howell's friend Darren Dalton
reunited in Red Dawn
the next year, and Lowe and Swayze
reunited in Youngblood
. He was considered a
member of the Brat Pack
first major success was in the 1985 television miniseries
, which was set during the American Civil War.
Swayze's breakthrough role came with his performance as dance
instructor Johnny Castle in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing
, alongside his Red Dawn
co-star, Jennifer Grey
. Dirty Dancing
coming of age
story set to film was a
low-budget project that was intended to be shown in theaters for
one weekend only and then go straight
, but it became a surprise hit and achieved massive
international success. It was the first film to sell one million
copies on video, and as of 2007, has earned over $300 million
worldwide and spawned several alternate versions, ranging from a
television series to stage productions to a computer game. Swayze
received a Golden Globe Award
nomination for the role and also sang one of the songs on the
soundtrack, "She's Like the
," which he had originally co-written with Stacy Widelitz
for the film Grandview,
The song became a top ten hit and has been covered
by other artists.
After Dirty Dancing
, Swayze found himself heavily typecast
and appeared in several flops, of which Road House
was the most
successful. His biggest hit came in 1990, when he starred in
, with Demi Moore
. In 1991, he starred alongside Youngblood
cast mate Keanu Reeves
in another major
action hit, Point Break
was also chosen by People
as that year's "Sexiest Man Alive."
seriously injured in 1998 while filming HBO's Letters from a Killer near
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, but the film aired in 1999.
Swayze recovered from his injuries, but he had trouble resuming his
career until 2000, when he co-starred in Waking Up in Reno
, with Billy Bob Thornton
and Charlize Theron
, and in Forever
, with Melanie
In 2001, he appeared in Donnie
, where he played a motivational speaker and closet
pedophile, and in 2004, he played Allan Quatermain in King Solomon's Mines
He also had a cameo appearance
the Dirty Dancing
sequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana
as an unnamed dance instructor.
made his West End
theatre début 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 2007, Swayze starred in the film Christmas in Wonderland
played an aging rock star in Powder Blue
, co-starring his younger
in their first film together.
starred in the A&E FBI drama
filmed in Chicago, as FBI Agent Charles Barker.
Swayze was married to Lisa Niemi
June 12, 1975 until his death. 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 had no
As a reaction to his father's death at age 57 from a heart attack
in 1982, Swayze began to
drink heavily. His sister Vicky committed suicide
leading him to seek treatment for alcoholism
. After initial recovery, he temporarily
withdrew from show business, retreating to his ranches in
California and Las Vegas, New
Mexico, to breed Arabian
His best-known horse was Tammen
, a chestnut Arabian stallion. Swayze was a
was a licensed 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. His plane developed a
pressurization problem over northern Arizona, causing Swayze to make a precautionary landing on
a dirt road in a housing complex in Prescott
The plane's right wing struck a light pole
that he hadn't seen from the air, but Swayze was unharmed. He
locked up the cockpit, left it parked 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 (including an
open bottle of wine and a 30-pack of beer) from the crash site. 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.
Illness and death
Swayze was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer in late January 2008, and underwent chemotherapy and treatment with an experimental drug Vatalanib to cut off the blood supply to the tumor at the Stanford University Medical Center. 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 suggest. Despite repeated tabloid claims that his death was imminent, Swayze continued to actively pursue his career. Specifically, Swayze was diagnosed with a type of pancreatic tumor called intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm.
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 a statement made on May
28, Swayze said that 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 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 was asked by reporter in
Los Angeles airport about this health. He replied, "I'm cooking.
I'm a miracle dude. I don't know why".
Swayze appeared on the ABC
and CBS simulcast
Stand Up to Cancer
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 on-stage and talked to other cancer
patients; executive producer Laura
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". In late 2008, Swayze
denied claims made by tabloids that the cancer had spread to his
liver. Swayze told Barbara Walters
in January 2009 that he wanted the media to report that he was
When Barbara Walters asked him if he was using any holistic or
treatment besides the chemotherapy, Swayze admitted to using some
Chinese herbs, but not much. He then voiced his opposition to
alternative therapy, as noted by ABC News
journalist Joseph Brownstein:
- Because of the grim prognosis, many patients turn to
alternative therapies without scientific evidence behind them.
Swayze did not.
- : "That's one thing I'm not gonna do, is chase, is chase
staying alive. I'm not, you know, you'll spend so much time chasing
staying alive you won't live, you know? I wanna live. If anybody
had that cure out there like so many people swear to me they do,
you'd be two things: you'd be very rich, and you'd be very famous.
Otherwise, shut up," he told Barbara Walters in an interview
that aired in January of this year.
- Swayze's feelings may be correct, according to a study
released last month in the Journal of Clinical
Oncology. That study—from Columbia University Medical
Center—compared standard pancreatic cancer care, including the
chemotherapy drug gemcitabine, with a popular alternative therapy
known as the Gonzalez
regimen. Researchers found that patients on the
alternative regimen had a median survival time of a little over 4
months, while patients taking the standard of care regimen survived
for a median of 14 months.
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 on June 15, 2009,
reported that the show had been cancelled. In an interview with
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 treatments 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
to his liver. Swayze stated
that his chain smoking
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 age
57, 20 months after being diagnosed. Swayze's publicist, Annett
Wolf, confirmed to CNN that he had died of pancreatic cancer. He
and his ashes scattered over
his New Mexico ranch.
- 'Dirty Dancing' star Patrick Swayze at 57
- Biography at Don Swayze's Official Site.
- Distinguished Houston Independent School District
Alumni. Retrieved on 2009-04-20.
- " F.M. Black Middle School, Houston, Texas - General
Information. Retrieved on 2009-04-20.
- Grease, Replacement Cast at Internet Broadway Database
- M*A*S*H (episode #9.18, April 6, 1981) at the
Internet Movie Database.
- The Renegades (TV series) at Internet Movie
- (in German) Patrick Swayze - Biografie auf Gala.de
- Dirty Dancing, The E! True Hollywood
Story, first aired 2000-09-03
- Goodtime Charley Opening Night Cast at
Internet Broadway Database.
- Chicago Replacement Cast at Internet Broadway Database.
- (Swayze on Stand Up to Cancer).
- Patrick Swayze Calls Tabloid Reports on Condition
"Lies"" TV Guide. December 2, 2008. Retrieved on
- Joseph Brownstein, Did Swayze's Dancing Help in Cancer Battle?
ABC News Medical
Unit, Sept. 16, 2009
- Santos, Kristin Dos; Godwin, Jennifer (9 Jan. 2009) "Patrick Swayze Hospitalized With Pneumonia".
- King, Tim (April 19, 2009). Patrick Swayze Gravely Ill But Very Much Alive
Salem (Oregon) News. 2009-04-19.
- Lemire, Christie. "'Dirty Dancing' star Patrick Swayze at 57".
Seattle Times. 2009-09-14.
- "US film star Patrick Swayze dies." BBC.
- "Patrick Swayze dies of cancer at 57". CNN.com.