Patrick Swayze, star of films such as Dirty Dancing and Ghost, has passed away on September 14th 2009, aged 57. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2008, but despite chemotherapy the cancer spread to his liver and was therefore the cause of his death.
Swayze was born in Houston, Texas in 1952, the son of an engineering draftsman father and a choreographer mother. His mother was obviously a big influence on him as he enjoyed ballet and acting from a young age, eventually attending the Harkness Ballet and Joffrey ballet schools in New York.
His first job was as a dancer in the Walt Disney parades, but before long he was standing in as a replacement for the role of Danny in the Broadway production of Grease. His big break came in 1985 when he starred in the American Civil War mini series North and South, which he followed up with the seminal Dirty Dancing, playing the role of dance instructor Johnny Castle. Ironically this film was initially intended to have a brief theatrical release and then go straight to video, but it instead became a mega success, earning hundreds of millions of dollars and was the first film to sell a million copies on videotape!
The early nineties saw him go from strength to strength, with Ghost, the romantic comedy men don’t mind watching, and Point Break, the action film that women don’t mind watching! The former film especially has really embedded itself in popular culture thanks to the famous pottery scene, where Swayze’s ghost character Sam Wheat makes a pot with the still living Demi Moore!
At the end of the nineties he withdrew from show business to breed Arabian horses, whilst battling alcoholism, but the turn of the century saw him return to the stage to star in movie Donnie Darko, and also return to the theatre for roles in Chicago on Broadway and Guys and Dolls in the West End.
Before his death Swayze had just started starring in a new FBI television show called The Beast, but this was cancelled in June 2009 due to his ill health.