Patrick Swayze


Early life

Patrick Wayne Swayze was born in Houston, Texas to Jesse Wayne Swayze and choreographer and ballet school owner Patsy Swayze. According to his website, he is part Apache. His brother, Don Swayze, is also an actor. Swayze attended St Rose of Lima Catholic School, Oak Forest Elementary School, Black Middle School, and Waltrip High School in Houston. For most of his life, he lived in the Oak Forest area. His formal dance training was at the Harkness Ballet and Joffrey Ballet Schools in New York City.

Personal life

Swayze has been married to Lisa Niemi since 1975. The couple have been together since Lisa, at 15, began dance lessons with Swayze’s mother.

His father died of a heart attack. Swayze attended a clinic to overcome alcoholism after his sister Vicky passed away. After initial recovery, he retreated to his ranches in California and New Mexico to breed Arabian horses. His best-known horse was the late Tammen, a chestnut Arabian stallion. He also follows several spiritual traditions. Brought up a Roman Catholic, he has also studied Buddhism, and Scientology.

Patrick Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late January of 2008. He has been getting chemotherapy and other treatments at the Stanford Medical Center. According to National Enquirer, his cancer has spread to other parts of his body and he has been told he has only 5 months to live.


Swayze’s first professional appearance was as a dancer for Disney on Parade, then in the Broadway production of Grease, before his debut film role as Ace in Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979). He also appeared in the M*A*S*H episode “Blood Brothers” (Episode 9.18, 6 April 1981).

Swayze’s first roles were in films such as The Outsiders (1983), Red Dawn (1984) and “Youngblood” (1986) but his first major success was in the 1985 television mini-series North and South, which was set during the Civil War. His real breakthrough to stardom came with his performance as the dance instructor in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, where his earlier ballet experience came to good use. He starred with Jennifer Grey, who had also co-starred in Red Dawn. Dirty Dancing was originally a low-budget project that was intended to only show in theaters for one weekend and then go straight to video, 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 $US 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 Wind”, which he had originally co-written with Stacy Widelitz for the film Grandview, U.S.A.. The song became a top-10 hit, and has been covered by other artists such as David Hasselhoff, and in 2006 was converted into a hip-hop version by Lumidee, who brought it to the top of the charts in Germany. After the success of Dirty Dancing, Swayze found himself heavily typecast and appeared in a series of flops. In 1989, he starred in the well-received Road House. However, his biggest hit came in 1990 when he starred in Ghost, working with Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. This role had considerable cultural impact, and modern hip-hop lyrics routinely use the phrase “Like a Swayze”, referring to that film (for more info, see the “Cultural Impact” section of the movie “Ghost”). In 1991 he starred alongside “Youngblood” castmate Keanu Reeves in another major action hit, Point Break.

In 1996, Swayze was seriously injured while filming the HBO Letters from a Killer in the Ione area, 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 finally aired in 1999. Swayze recovered from his injuries, but had trouble finding work until 2000, when he co-starred in Waking Up in Reno with Billy Bob Thornton and Charlize Theron, and Forever Lulu with Melanie Griffith.

He made the news again on June 1, 2000 when flying with his dogs in his twin-engine Cessna from Van Nuys, California to Las Vegas, New Mexico. The plane developed a pressurization problem over northern Arizona, and Swayze made a precautionary landing on a dirt road in a housing complex in Prescott Valley, striking a light pole (with his right wing) which he hadn’t seen from the air. Swayze was unhurt, locked up the cockpit and left it parked in the subdivision. He took his dogs and obtained a ride from a passing vehicle, allegedly to telephone authorities. According to the police report, witnesses said that Swayze appeared to be extremely intoxicated and asked for help in removing evidence (including an open bottle of wine and a 30 pack of beer) from the crash site. He also made himself unavailable to police for several hours. It was later determined that the alcohol in question was not in cabin but stored in external storage compartments inaccessible in flight and the alleged ‘intoxication’ was due to the effects of hypoxia during descent.

In 2001 he appeared in Donnie Darko, and in 2004 played Allan Quatermain in King Solomon’s Mines; he also had a cameo appearance in the Dirty Dancing sequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, where he played a dance instructor.

He made his London stage debut 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. He had appeared on the Broadway stage in productions of Goodtime Charley (1975), and Chicago (2003).

Swayze’s latest starring role, was the film Christmas in Wonderland. In August of 2007 Swayze played an aging rock star in the upcoming film “Powder Blue”, co-starring with his younger brother Don Swayze, in their first film together. Swayze is currently working on an A&E; pilot/FBI drama The Beast, being filmed in Chicago. He will play FBI Agent Charles Barker.