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Patrick Swayze was a Golden-Globe winning, beloved actor, as well as a singer, songwriter, and dancer, who died of pancreatic cancer in September of 2009.
Patrick Swayze - Ghost (7:49)
Patrick Swayze - Full Biography (45:30)
After years fearing his dance training would hold back his acting career, Patrick Swayze landed the role of Johnny Castle in "Dirty Dancing." Performing his own dancing and stunts, the movie made him an instant sensation.
Patrick Swayze moved to New York in 1975 to dance with the Eliot Feld ballet. In 1976, his dance career was almost ended by a staph infection. Once he recovered, he landed the lead role in "Grease" on Broadway.
Patrick Swayze campaigned heavily for the lead in "Ghost" and delivered the performance of a lifetime. His love scene with Demi Moore and his comedic scenes with Whoopi Goldberg are now a part of cinematic history.
Patrick Swayze soared to stardom in "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost," but his personal life was filled with heartaches, including a knee injury that nearly cost him a leg, his sister's suicide, and his battle with pancreatic cancer.
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Dirty Dancing also allowed Swayze to pursue a singing career. Inspired by his relationship with his wife, Lisa, Swayze penned the song "She's Like the Wind" for the film's soundtrack. "I had been meeting girls with names like Mimi and Angel. And for a long time I didn't feel like I deserved her," Swayze told People magazine. "I just felt at that time that I'm very, very lucky to have a woman who thinks I hung the moon." The song resonated with music fans,
and the single catapulted to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.
In 1989, Swayze starred in two action features, Road House and Next of Kin, which both enjoyed modest success at the box office. A year later, he fought for and won the lead role in Jerry Zucker's romantic drama Ghost (1990). The film, which co-starred Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, revived Swayze's struggling career. Ghost grossed over $200 million and earned Swayze a second Golden Globe nomination.
After Lisa had a miscarriage in 1990, the couple gave up on having children. Instead, they invested their time and love on their ranch full of dogs, horses, and cattle. "We're a team," Swayze said of he and his wife. "A relationship survives because of keeping the friendship alive and learning how to fall in love over and over again and never taking the other person for granted and seeing things in a new light with new eyes. We're big believers in, arguments are okay as long as it's not about your ego, but it's about a mutual goal—trying to create something special."
As Swayze's relationship with his wife grew stronger, his career also continued to shine when he adorned the cover of People magazine as "The Sexiest Man Alive" in 1991. He later partnered with Keanu Reeves in the action-adventure Point Break (1991), followed by 1992's City of Joy. Both films met with moderate success, and Swayze's rise to superstardom seemed to taper off for the next few years.
In 1995, Swayze teamed up with fellow actors Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo to play a trio of drag queens in the comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. Swayze's performance as Vida Boheme won him a third Golden Globe nomination in 1996.
In 1997, Swayze broke his right leg in a horse-riding accident while filming Letters From a Killer (1998). In the late 1990s, a serious drinking problem and several unsuccesful films severely hampered the actor's career. He admitted himself into a rehab clinic, after which he and his wife Lisa retreated to their ranch in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in Texas.
Despite his struggles, he continued to make films, starring in the romantic comedies Forever Lulu (2000) with Melanie Griffith, and Wakin' Up In Reno (2002), co-starring Natasha Richardson and Charlize Theron. He also wowed audiences once again with his proficiency as a dancer in the romantic dramas, One Last Dance (2003) and a sequel to his popular Dirty Dancing feature, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004).
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Dance pioneers like Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly—remembered for his groundbreaking performance in 1952's Singin' in the Rain—truly set the stage for Hollywood's dance-film genre. John Travolta, Jennifer Beals, Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey and Natalie Portman are some of the performers who took up where Astaire, Rogers and Kelly left off, repopularizing dance on film for later generations. Biography.com's Famous Movie Dancers group examines the lives and careers of these high-stepping performers who will always be remembered for their unforgettable moves.
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