A tribute to Patrick Swayze
When Patrick Swayze is mentioned, one of several things may come to mind: his dirty dancing skills on the fl oor, his muscular dancer's physique, and perhaps even pottery. However, since many of his wellknown movies came out in the 80s to early 90s, it would not be surprising that some may be unfamiliar with his works. NU students may be too young to fully appreciate or even remember them- though some may recall him from the cult classic Donnie Darko, as motivational speaker Jim Cunningham.
Swayze was born in Houston on Aug 18, 1952. While he is most notably known for his role as bad-boywith- a-heart-of-gold Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing, he fi rst began as a professional dancer before breaking into the acting business. His mother was a choreographer and had owned a studio where he studied for a time. His future wife, Lisa Niemi, had also studied under his mother, and the two continued dancing through their 34 years of marriage. In 2003, both starred in the dancing movie One Last Dance, written by Niemi. They also danced together at the 1994 World Music Awards.
The actor's first big hit came in 1983 with his portrayal of Darrel Curtis, the patriarchal fi gure in The Outsiders. Although, he did not follow the same acting track as some of his co-stars (such as Tom Cruise or Rob Lowe), he did earn recognition, which soon led to more major hits. Those included the Civil War mini-series North and South, and, of course, Dirty Dancing and Ghost, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for best actor.
He had a memorable skit as a Chippendale on SNL with Chris Farley (although Farley is probably more remembered for it), and even showed his other artistic side when he wrote and performed the song She's like the Wind, which was in Dirty Dancing.
Swayze did not always take the conventional road. According to CNN.com and several other interviews, after he won the hearts of many as a romantic fi lm lead, his next role would be something more gritty and daring. For example, following Dirty Dancing, where all he wanted was to be understood, he played a tough-as-nails bouncer in Road House. Similarly, after his performance in Ghost, he portrayed a surfer bank robber in Point Break.
In 1991, Swayze was named People's Sexiest Man of the Year. But, soon after, he slowly began to step out of the spot light. His name resurfaced in March 2008, but for dismal reasons. He had been diagnosed with advanced stage pancreatic cancer. In the Barbara Walters interview conducted in 2009, Dr. George Fisher, Swayze's doctor and associate professor at Stanford University Medical School , stated that this type of cancer was among the worst¦ survival is (usually) limited to a matter of months. Needless to say, this bleak news could be devastating to some. However, in the interview, Swayze (already having survived 12 months) seemed robust. When asked if he thought he was winning the battle, he simply replied, Winning is not giving up.
Swayze's last project was the A&E series The Beast, where he played an undercover FBI agent. He continued this project even after his diagnosis, and while enduring chemotherapy. Watching this series, one would never have guessed that he was sick, even though he admitted in the interview that he would have to get up hours earlier to get into the right set of mind and work through the pain.
Swayze lost his courageous battle with pancreatic cancer on Sept 14. When asked in his final interview why he continued to work, he stated If I leave this Earth, I want to leave this Earth just knowing I've tried to give something back and tried to do something worthwhile with myself. And that keeps me going, that gets me up in the morning. My work ... is my legacy.
From his diversified characters to his sexy dance moves, nobody will put his legacy in a corner.
Patrick Swayze's memoir, The Time of My Life, will be released on Sept 29. Some Patrick Swayze movies worth checking out:
'The Outsiders (1983): Patrick Swayze takes up the convincing role of playing the older brother and patriarch of his family. Showing tough love, but at the same time a deep protecting nature about the Greasers, he demonstrates his clear potential in future films.
'Youngblood (1986): Swayze plays hockey. Enough said.
'Dirty Dancing (1987): Probably one of the more memorable endings to a movie, when Johnny decides he is going to dance his way for the end show. We've had the time of our lives with this film, and we owe it all to you, Swayze. Jennifer Grey also stars.
'Road House (1989): Audiences get to see the darker side of Swayze, as the no-nonsense bouncer of a rough-and-tumble road house bar.
'Ghost (1990): Filled with such memorable scenes as the potterymaking scene or the floating penny, the film gives new meaning to the phrase love never dies.
'Point Break (1991): Full of action and centered around surfing, Swayze did many of his stunts (including the skydiving scene).
'To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar (1995): Not an easy task to do, but Swayze delivers his drag queen character with genuine emotion, showing his diversity as an actor.