Actor and cancer Patrick Swayze passed yesterday at the age of 57, following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Patrick Swayze was born on August 18, 1952 in Houston. His mother was choreographer and dance instructor Patsy Swayze and his father was rodeo cowboy and engineer Jesse Wayne Swayze. He started dancing as a child. He also learned ice skating and was a student athlete, playing football. Swayze attended San Jacinto College in Houston. He then moved to New York City to study dance and joined the Eliot Feld Ballet. He made his debut on Broadway in the musical Goodtime Charley. He was also a replacement for the part of Danny Zuko in the long running musical Grease.
Patrick Swayze made his movie debut in the movie Skatetown, U.S.A. in 1979. He made a guest appearance on M*A*S**H in 1981. He went onto appear in the movies The Outsiders, Uncommon Valour, Grandview U.S.A., and Red Dawn. He appeared in both the miniseries North and South and North and South Book II. It was in 1987 that Swayze entered the height of his career. That year he starred in the hugely successful film Dirty Dancing, as well as the much less successful sci-fi film Steel Dawn.
In the late Eighties and early Nineties, Patrick Swayze became one of the top stars of the day. He had some success with action films such as Road House and Next of Kin, but his next big success would be the screwball comedy Ghost. The following years he appeared in such films as Point Break, City of Joy, Tall Tale, and To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. His career declined a bit in the late Nineties, although he would appear in the cult film Donnie Darko and once more on Broadway in 2003 and 2004 as a replacement for the role of Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago. His last role was in the TV show The Beast, which aired this year, after Swayze had been diagnosed with cancer.
I cannot say I am a huge fan of Patrick Swayze's movies. In fact, there only a few I like (Ghost, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, and Donnie Darkio, but I have to say I always liked Patrick Swayze. He also seemed charming, with a great self deprecating sense of humour. And regardless of what I thought of many of his films, there can be no doubt that he had talent. He was a great dancer. And he was a very good actor. In fact, I sometimes think his true calling was as a comic actor. Indeed, of my three favourite Swayze films, two are comedies (Ghost and To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar), both of which he gave very good, comic performances. And I must say I thought he was one of the best guest hosts ever on Saturday Night Live. While many might remember Swayze for his romantic turn in Dirty Dancing (a film I must confess I don't really care for), I'll always remember him for his work in comedy.