Patrick Swayze (born August 18, 1952), is an American actor, dancer,
and singer-songwriter. He is best-known as Orry Main in the North and
South-TV-series and as a romantic leading man in films such as Dirty Dancing
(1987) and Ghost (1990), for which he received Golden Globe nominations,
along with his performances in Red Dawn (1984), Road House (1989), and Point
Break (1991). He was listed by People magazine as its "Sexiest Man Alive" in
1991. Diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in January 2008, he has had a
public battle with the disease, but is, as he described it to Barbara
Walters in January 2009, "kicking it." He has signed on to be the lead in a
new A&E television series, The Beast, which began airing on January 15,
Patrick was born on August 18, 1952 in Houston, Texas, the son of Patricia "Patsy" Yvonne Helen (née Karnes) — a choreographer, dance instructor, and dancer—and Jesse Wayne Swayze, an engineering drafter. His brother, Don Swayze, is also an actor. Other siblings include Vicki Lynn (deceased) and Sean Kyle. Although the surname "Swayze" is of Norman French origin, he is of mainly Irish descent.
Until age 20, Patrick lived in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston, where he attended St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, Oak Forest Elementary School, Black Middle School, and Waltrip High School. During this time, he also pursued multiple artistic and athletic skills, such as ice skating, classical ballet, and acting in school plays. He studied gymnastics at nearby San Jacinto College for two years.
In 1972, he moved to New York City to complete his formal dance training at the Harkness Ballet and Joffrey ballet schools.
Swayze's first professional appearance was as a dancer for Disney on Parade. He starred as a replacement for Danny Zuko in the long-running Broadway production of Grease before his debut film role as "Ace" in Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979). He also appeared as Pvt. Sturgis in the M*A*S*H episode Blood Brothers (episode #9.18, 6 April 1981) and had a brief stint in 1982 on a short lived TV series The Renegades playing a gang leader named Bandit. Patrick became known to the film industry after appearing in The Outsiders (1983) as the older brother of C. Thomas Howell and Rob Lowe. Swayze, Howell, and Howell's friend Darren Dalton reunited in Red Dawn the next year, and Lowe and Patrick reunited in Youngblood, where he was considered a member of the Brat Pack, but his first major success was in the 1985 television miniseries North and South, which was set during the American Civil War.
His real breakthrough to stardom came with his performance as the dance instructor in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, alongside his Red Dawn costar, Jennifer Grey. His earlier ballet experience came to good use in this film. Dirty Dancing was a low-budget project that was intended to be shown in theaters for one weekend only 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. Patrick 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 cowritten with Stacy Widelitz for the film Grandview, U.S.A. The song became a top ten 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 took it to the top of the charts in Germany.
After Dirty Dancing, Patrick found himself heavily typecast as beefcake and appeared in several flops, of which Road House (1989) was the most successful. His biggest hit came in 1990, when he starred in Ghost, with Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. This role had considerable cultural impact, and modern hip-hop lyrics routinely use the phrase "I'm Swayze" (meaning "I'm ghost," which is in turn slang for "I'm leaving") in reference 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, and was also chosen by People magazine as that year's "Sexiest Man Alive."
Patrick was seriously injured in 1996 while filming HBO's 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 aired in 1999. Patrick recovered from his injuries, but had trouble resuming his career until 2000, when he costarred in Waking Up in Reno, with Billy Bob Thornton and Charlize Theron, and in Forever Lulu, with Melanie Griffith.
In 2001, he appeared in Donnie Darko, where he played a motivational speaker and closet pedophile, and in 2004, he played Allan Quatermain in King Solomon's Mines. He also had a cameo appearance in the Dirty Dancing prequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004) as an unnamed dance instructor.
He made his London stage debut in the musical Guys and Dolls as Nathan Detroit on July 24, 2006, alongside Neil Jerzak, and remained in the role until November 25, 2006. His previous appearances on the Broadway stage had included productions of Goodtime Charley (1975) and Chicago (2003).
Swayze's latest starring role was in the film Christmas in Wonderland (2007). In August 2007, Patrick played an aging rock star in the upcoming film Powder Blue (slated for 2009 release), costarring his younger brother Don in their first film together. Patrick currently stars in the A&E FBI drama The Beast, filmed in Chicago. He plays FBI Agent Charles Barker.
Patrick has been married to Lisa Niemi since June 12, 1975. The couple first met in 1970 when Patrick was 20 years old. Niemi, 14 years old at the time, was taking dance lessons from Swayze's mother. Niemi was born on May 26, 1956 in Houston, Texas, to Finnish-American parents, Edmond Melvin Haapaniemi and Edna Karin Hyttinen.
As a reaction to his father's death by heart attack in 1982, Patrick began to drink heavily. His sister Vicky died in 1994, leading him to seek treatment for alcoholism. After initial recovery, he temporarily withdrew from show business, retreating to his ranches in California and Las Vegas, New Mexico, to breed Arabian horses. His best-known horse was Tammen, a chestnut Arabian stallion.
Swayze, a licensed pilot with an instrument rating, made the news on June 1, 2000, while flying with his dogs in his twin-engine Cessna from Van Nuys, California to Las Vegas, New Mexico. His plane developed a pressurization problem over northern Arizona, causing Patrick to make a precautionary landing on a dirt road in a housing complex in Prescott Valley. The plane's right wing struck a light pole that he hadn't seen from the air, but Patrick was unharmed. He locked up the cockpit, left it parked in the subdivision, and obtained a ride (with his dogs) from a passing vehicle, allegedly in order to telephone the authorities. According to the police report, witnesses said that Patrick appeared to be extremely intoxicated and asked for help to remove evidence (including an open bottle of wine and a 30-pack of beer) from the crash site. He made himself unavailable to police for several hours. It was later determined that the alcohol in question was not in the cabin but stored in external storage compartments inaccessible in flight and that the alleged "intoxication" was due to the effects of hypoxia during descent.
He has followed several spiritual traditions. Brought up a Roman Catholic, he has also studied the Bahá'í Faith, Buddhism, and Scientology.
Patrick was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late January 2008, and has undergone chemotherapy and other treatments at the Stanford University Medical Center. A March 5, 2008, Reuters article reported that Patrick "has a very limited amount of disease, and he appears to be responding well to treatment thus far." Swayze's doctor confirmed that the actor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but insisted he's not as close to death as reports suggest. Specifically, Patrick was diagnosed with a type of pancreatic tumor called Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasm (IPMN).
In early May 2008, it was widely reported in a number of tabloids that Patrick had undergone surgery to remove part of his stomach after the spread of the cancer and that he had rewritten his will, transferring his property to his wife. In a statement made on May 28, Patrick said that he continued to respond well to treatment at Stanford University Medical Center. In late May 2008, he was seen at a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game, his first public appearance since his diagnosis. In 2008 Patrick was treated with Cyberknife radiotherapy cancer treatment.
In late July 2008, six months after reportedly being given just weeks to live by medical experts, Patrick was seen in Los Angeles LAX airport, appearing healthy. When asked about his condition, he told reporters "I'm cooking. I'm a miracle dude. I don't know why."
Patrick appeared on the ABC, NBC, and CBS simulcast of Stand Up to Cancer in September 2008, to appeal to the general public for donations for the initiative. Patrick said to a standing ovation, "I dream that the word 'cure' will no longer be followed by the words 'it's impossible.' Together, we can make a world where cancer no longer means living with fear, without hope, or worse." After the show ended, Patrick lingered onstage and talked to other cancer patients; executive producer Laura Ziskin said, "He said a beautiful thing: 'I'm just an individual living with cancer.' That's how he wants to be thought of. He's in a fight, but he's a fighter."
In late 2008, Patrick denied claims made by tabloids that the cancer has spread to his liver. However, in his interview with Barbara Walters, which aired in January 2009, Patrick revealed that he had a "tiny little mass" in his liver. On January 9, 2009, Patrick was hospitalized with pneumonia. The pneumonia was said to be a complication of chemotherapy treatments for Swayze's cancer. On January 16, he was released from the hospital to rest at home with his wife.
This Patrick Swayze Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub