Patrick Wayne Swayze was born on August 18, 1952 in Houston, Texas, to Patsy Swayze (née Yvonne Helen Karnes), a choreographer, and Jesse Wayne Swayze, a chemical plant engineer draftsman. His mother owned a dance school in Houston, where Patrick was also a student. His father passed away in 1982. He graduated from Waltrip High School in Houston, and attended San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas. He married actress/dancer Lisa Niemi on June 12, 1975, whom he had known when she was 15 and a student at his mother’s dance school. His New York City dance training included the Harkness Ballet School and Joffrey Ballet School. He first danced professionally as “Prince Charming” in “Disney on Parade”. After a stint as “Danny Zuko” in the original Broadway production of “Grease”, he made his film debut with a small role in Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979). He made his television debut in 1981 on M*A*S*H (1972), as a soldier diagnosed with leukemia.
After many supporting roles in films and a lead role in the TV mini-series North and South, Book I (1985), he landed his breakthrough role as dance instructor “Johnny Castle” in the hit film Dirty Dancing (1987), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. He received a second nomination for his portrayal of “Sam Wheat” in the blockbuster Ghost (1990). Ghost (1990) was the highest-grossing film of 1990, and at one point, the fourth highest-grossing film of all time. Unfortunately, he did not capitalize on its success. His subsequent films like City of Joy (1992), Tall Tale (1995), Black Dog (1998), and Waking Up in Reno (2002) did not fare well with critics or audiences. In December 2003, he returned to Broadway as a replacement for the lead role of “Billy Flynn” in the acclaimed revival of John Kander & Fred Ebb’s musical, “Chicago”. The production also went on tour in several cities of the United States, including Los Angeles. In January 2008, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He fought the illness for well over a year and was able to continue working, but died on September 14, 2009.
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