R.I.P Patrick Swayze
LOS ANGELES — Patrick Swayze, the hunky actor who danced his way into moviegoers’ hearts with “Dirty Dancing” and then broke them with “Ghost,” died Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57.
“Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months,” said a statement released Monday evening by his publicist, Annett Wolf. Swayze died in Los Angeles, Wolf said, but declined to give further details.
Swayze arrived on the scene in a big way in 1983, with a starring role in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Outsiders.” Distinguishing yourself among the likes of Tom Cruise, Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Matt Dillon in that film was no small feat. And while all would go on to enjoy very successful careers, none would star in “Road House” and “Red Dawn.”
My definition of a great actor is one who convinces in the role; one who doesn’t take you out of the story with all the tics and technique. By that standard Swayze never disappointed. A trained dancer, his physical abilities sold the action, his sincerity brought heart to the romance and a complete lack of pretension made him accessible — made him something that is all but extinct today: a real-live movie star.
Time is what creates the classic film, not critics or box office, and time has made clear that Swayze made a mark on cinema few might have expected twenty years ago. “Road House,” “Point Break,” “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost” live endlessly on cable television and DVD players everywhere. They are a immortal part of our culture and … they are Patrick Swayze movies.
We don’t know a whole lot about Swayze’s personal life, which was another big reason to like him, but he was married to the same woman, Lisa Niemi, for 34 years. Swayze was married since 1975 to Niemi, a fellow dancer who took lessons with his mother; they met when he was 19 and she was 15. A licensed pilot, Niemi would fly her husband from Los Angeles to Northern California for treatment at Stanford University Medical Center.
In the real world what that says about the character of a man is impressive. In Hollywood, it says everything.
And Larry King wrote: “Patrick Swayze was a wonderful actor & a terrific guy. He put his heart in everything. He was an extraordinary fighter in his battle w Cancer.”
Thanks for everything. Rest in peace.