On September 14th, 2009, Patrick Swayze died, losing his two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was only 57 years old. Despite the almost universal expectation that Patrick Swayze would have succumbed to pancreatic cancer months ago, most people absorbed news of Patrick Swayze’s death with shock and sadness. This is exactly how the public reacted to rumors that Patrick Swayze died in May of 2009. The shock and disbelief were followed by a collective exhale of relief when Patrick Swayze announced that his supposed death was merely a rumor. Still, Patrick Swayze’s death is extremely upsetting to many who praised his acting in hit movies such as “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost.”
When Patrick Swayze died, he joined a long list of celebrity deaths in 2009, which includes Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, David Carradine, Natasha Richardson, and Billy Mays. Those who grew up during the 1980’s suffered a double tragedy in 2009 with the death of two of the generation’s biggest idols-Michael Jackson and Patrick Swayze.
Patrick Swayze was born in 1952. He grew up in Houston, Texas, where he was involved in both ballet and football. In interviews, Swayze explained that football and ballet had both been extremely beneficial in preparing him for his acting career. In fact, Patrick Swayze studied dance with the both Harkness Ballet Company and the Joffrey Ballet, and then was a member of the Eliot Feld Ballet. Following his time with the Eliot Feld Ballet, he debuted on Broadway as a dancer in “Goodnight Charley.” He was forced to give up dancing, because a football injury prevented him from executing many of the necessary dance steps, making his pursuit of dancing as a career an impossibility. This turn of events greatly disappointed his mother, Patsy Swayze, who had been a dancer as a young adult and earned a living as a dance choreographer when Patrick Swayze was a child.
Having had a taste of Broadway, Patrick Swayze decided to pursue a career in acting after learning that his football injury would make a dance career difficult. His first appearance in a movie came in 1979, with the Scott Baio movie, “Skatetown, U.S.A.” He was not taken seriously as an actor until he was cast in “The Outsiders” with other up-and-coming stars like Tom Cruise and Matt Dillon in 1983. Following his role in “The Outsiders” he gained notoriety for his performance in “Red Dawn” and his role in the television mini-series “North and South,” which were both released in 1984.
Patrick Swayze was most famous for his performance in “Dirty Dancing” with Jennifer Gray and “Ghost,” with Demi Moore. Both movies were wildly successful and earned him widespread respect as an actor. “She’s Like The Wind,” a hit song performed by Patrick Swayze in”Dirty Dancing” was as successful as the movie, reaching number 3 on the Billboard charts.
Patrick Swayze’s acting career mostly dropped off after his performance in “Ghost.” Some of his later movies, such as “Point Break,” “City of Joy,” “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar,” and “Donnie Darko.”
In the last few years before Patrick Swayze died, he spent more of his time raising peacocks, cattle and Arabian horses in California and New Mexico. After his diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer in March, 2008, he played an F.B.I. agent for the drama series “The Beast,” which received good reviews. Patrick Swayze’s death will be mourned by millions of fans, but his amazing acting and inspiring attitude will live on.