Patrick Swayze was born on Aug. 18, 1952, in Houston, Texas. His mother Patsy, a choreographer and dance instructor, inspired him from a young age to pursue ice skating, classical ballet and dancing before he moved to NYC in 1972 to complete his formal dance training.
The actor’s breakout role was in the 1983 ensemble movie, The Outsiders, but he was best known for his role as Johnny Castle in 1987’s Dirty Dancing, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. He was also nominated for Golden Globes for his role in 1990’s Ghost opposite Demi Moore and for 1995’s To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. His career also included performances in such films as Red Dawn, Point Break and Donnie Darko. His last role was in A&E series The Beast.
The actor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2008 and had been undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments ever since.
Swayze — who once said, “I dream of a future with a long, healthy life, a life not lived in the shadow of cancer but in the light” — announced in January that he would write a memoir with his wife Lisa Niemi and was in the process of meeting with publishers. (Swayze has been married to Niemi since 1975. They met when she took dance lessons from Swayze’s mother.)
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He died Sept. 14, 2009, at the age of 57.