Swayze was romantic superstar with charm, swagger


Patrick Swayze,

Born in 1952 in Houston, Texas, Swayze combined the macho, country-boy swagger with the dancing charm of an old-fashioned romantic hero to propel "Dirty Dancing" from a low budget, made-for-video flick into a box-office sensation that earned more than $300 million worldwide.

It was by far Swayze's greatest hit, but the actor kept working hard even through a debilitating battle with cancer.

As late as December 2008 he was refusing to take powerful painkillers so as not to blur the edge that he felt he needed to play the lead character in the TV series The Beast.

"When you're shooting you can't do drugs," he said on a US chat show. "What winning is to me is not giving up, is no matter what's thrown at me, I can take it, and I can keep going."

That mental toughness that helped the trained ballet dancer deal with the challenges of becoming an overnight sex symbol. In "Dirty Dancing", he played a dance teacher whose private mambo lessons to a teenage girl inevitably led to an erotically charged relationship.

But even as he retained a special place in American pop culture, most of his following projects sank into box-office oblivion, and Swayze sought refuge in the bottle.

He did experience several high points with Golden Globe nominations in 1990 for the box-office smash "Ghost", another romantic classic, and in 1995 for "To Won Foo", but he got an equal number of Razzie Awards for worst actor.

Determined to beat his alcohol addiction, he removed himself from Hollywood to the ranches he owned outside Los Angeles and near Las Vegas to raise thoroughbred horses.

Through it all, his wife, Lisa Niemi, was by his side. The couple had one of the strongest marriages in Hollywood. They met in 1970 when she was just 16 and took a dance class given by his mother. They married in 1975 and remained together until his death.

After conquering his addiction, Swayze returned to Hollywood in 2000 to film a small role in the cult classic Donnie Darko. But he really made a splash when he earned $5 million for a cameo appearance in a prequel to his greatest hit "Dirty Dancing - Havana Nights".
He was diagnosed with cancer in late January 2008 and was treated at the Stanford University Medical Centre outside San Francisco. His condition sparked a regular flurry of rumours of his imminent death, most of which he took with his customary grit and good humour.

"I am alive and plan on continuing to stay that way," he said in January 2009, after he denied reports that he had stopped treatment.

''Real cowboy with a tender heart"
He made millions swoon with his line, "No one puts Baby in a corner" in 'Dirty Dancing' but the friends of actor Patrick Swayze remember him as a person who fought his battle with "amazing courage and dignity."
"When I think of him, I think of being in his arms when we were kids, dancing, practicing the lift in the freezing lake, having a blast doing this tiny little movie we thought no one would ever see," Jennifer Grey, who played Frances "Baby" Houseman in the 1987 cult classic said about the actor.
'Dirty Dancing' catapulted Swayze and Grey to instant global stardom. Swayze played a rakish dancer Johnny Castle in the movie, which continues to be one of the most successful romances in Hollywood history.
"Swayze was a real cowboy with a tender heart," said Grey adding that he was so fearless doing his own stunts that "it was not surprising to me that the war he waged on his cancer was so courageous and dignified."
"Patrick was a rare and beautiful combination of raw masculinity and amazing grace. My heart goes out to his wife and childhood sweetheart, Lisa Niemi, to his mom, Patsy, and to the rest of their family," she added.

Actress Demi Moore, who played Swayze's sweetheart in 1991 superhit 'Ghost' said the actor will be missed terribly.
"Patrick you are so loved by so many and your life will forever shine in all of our lives and in the words of Sam to Molly 'Its amazing Molly, the love inside you take with you' I will love and miss you Patrick," Moore wrote in her emotional tribute to her 'Ghost' co-star on Twitter.

Similarly, Whoopi Goldberg, who won an Oscar for her turn opposite Swayze 'Ghost', said she owed so much to her "dear friend".
"Patrick was a really good man, a funny man and one to whom I owe much that I can't ever repay. I believe in 'Ghost's' message, so he'll always be near," Goldberg said.
Actor-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger remembered Patrick Swayze as "a talented and passionate artist who struck a memorable chord with audiences throughout the world.
"...As a fan and as an actor, I admired Patrick and I know that he will be dearly missed. On behalf of all Californians, Maria and I send our deepest condolences to Patrick's family, friends and fans," the California governor said in a statement.
Kenny Ortega, who choreographed the actor in 'Dirty Dancing' said, "Patrick was a great human being who I knew as a loving son, husband, brother and friend....Patrick loved life, and had such an enthusiasm for everything he did. If he could climb it, he climbed it. If he could write it, he wrote it. If he could dance it, well, we all know he did. He lived."
"Patrick Swayze passed away. he was so brave to fight his battle against an awful devastating disease with such dignity and grace," wrote Bondgirl Denise Richards on her Twitter page.

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