Patrick Swayze was a truly beloved actor who took the world by storm with his portrayal of Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing.
Still to this day, people around the world mourn the wonderful and celebrated actor Patrick Swayze. He passed away in 2009 from cancer, aged just 57, but his legacy lives on.
Swayze had a fantastic career, being nominated for both Golden Globes and Academy Awards, along with being awarded a star on the Hollywood Hall of Fame.
Not to mention the fact that his love story with wife Lisa Niemi seems like something taken straight out of a Hollywood movie.
Patrick Wayne Swayze was born on Aug 18, 1952, in Houston, Texas. He and his four siblings were raised by parents Patsy and Jesse Swayze.
Mother Patsy was the director of the Houston Jazz Ballet Company and the father Jesse worked as a chemical plant engineer draftsman.
Early life and ballet
At a young age, Swayze would turn to the art of dancing. His mother introduced him to ballet at a dance school and, before long, Swayze had fallen in love with it.
However, his fellow classmates often teased him because of his interest in dance. As it would transpire, Swayze was destined to get the last laugh, becoming one of the biggest and brightest movie stars on the planet.
Patrick attended Waltrip High School in Houston, with classmates listing him as “Buddy Swayze” in his yearbook. During his time at the school, he engaged in both football and drama classes, before graduating in 1971.
By that time, Swayze had already started to master ballet. He’d fallen deeply in love with the style of dance at his mother’s dance school. Little did he know that he would also meet the love of his life there.
Swayze spent plenty of time at the Houston Jazz Ballet Company. On one occasion, in one of his mother’s classes, he saw a girl that he just couldn’t take his eyes off. Her name? Lisa Niemi.
First work in show business
Following his graduation from high school, Patrick Swayze was already a great dancer. He attended dance classes at both the Harkness Ballet School and Joffrey Ballet School in New York City.
He got his first job as Prince Charming in Disney on Parade. Shortly afterward, he made his Broadway debut as Danny Zuko in the original production of Grease.
Swayze then landed a small part in Skatetown U.S.A in 1979, which was actually his film debut. Two years later, he made his debut on television in the classic series M*A*S*H, where he played a soldier diagnosed with leukemia. In 1983, he appeared with Matt Dillon in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders, which definitely lent Swayze’s career a healthy boost.
After starring in six episodes of the series North and South, Swayze landed the role that would change his life, putting him alongside some of the greatest.
Swayze’s performance as dance instructor Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing, 1987, was a huge success. The iconic dance moves performed alongside Baby (Jennifer Grey) have since been imitated hundreds of thousands of times around the world. And, of course, the soundtrack is memorable still to this day.
Patrick Swayze – Dirty Dancing
The Time of My Life won both an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, and a Golden Globe in the “Best Original Song – Motion Picture” category.
Swayze, meanwhile, was nominated for a Golden Globe in the “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical” category. But when it comes to being popular with the audience, he won the highest and most prestigious award of all.
In 1990, Swayze was awarded a second Golden Globe nomination for his role as Sam Wheat in the blockbuster movie Ghost. The movie, which co-starred Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, became highly popular, grossing over $500 million worldwide.
According to Box Office Mojo, Ghost became the highest-grossing movie of 1990 and, at the time of its release, the third-highest-grossing movie of all time. Following it being adjusted to inflation, as of 2015 it’s the 93rd-highest-grossing movie of all time.
Patrick Swayze children
At age 15, Lisa Niemi met Swayze, then 18 years old, for the first time. She was attending lessons from Swayze’s mom – but it would be a while before affection really started to bloom between the future married couple.
“If I started putting on a pose or doing my Casanova routine, Lisa would turn away and not say anything,” Swayze told People. “We had a lot of dates in silence.”
Patrick knew he couldn’t let her go. As the years went by, she also found she liked him. And thus, they soon became a couple.
“I knew she was the smartest chick I’d ever met. [Before Lisa] I had been meeting girls with names like “Mimi” and “Angel”. And for a long time, I didn’t feel like I deserved her,” Swayze explained.
Eventually, Patrick and Lisa fell deeply in love. Nothing and no one could pull them apart. Not even the fact that Swayze would soon be a worldwide superstar could change his love for her.
On June 12, 1975, the two got married. Lisa and Patrick’s union stood out in Hollywood, where many marriages don’t last very long.
It was a fairytale romance that was missing only one thing: Lisa and Patrick had no children.
Legendary TV host Barbara Walters didn’t need many words to describe Patrick and Lisa’s relationship. She’d met them many times, and said their relationship was “extraordinary”.
“The way he looked at her, the way he held on to her, the way she smiled., I can’t really imagine one without the other,” Walters said.
The awards and plaudits were likely great fun for Swayze. Sadly, though, that same year, he and his beloved wife Lisa had experienced a tragedy.
Since the very day they got married, Swayze and Niemi longed to start a family. They were euphoric when Lisa became pregnant. Their joy turned to devastation, though, when she miscarried.
“It broke his heart. He wanted to be a dad more than anything. He had skills, knowledge, kindness, and love – everything a child would want,” Swayze’s long-time friend and bodyguard Frank Whiteley said.
“I was born to be a dad,” Swayze said according to Closer magazine.
As the years passed, Lisa realized she was getting too old to have a child. So instead, Niemi asked her husband if he would consider adoption.
“I had been seeing an acupuncturist for a long time, and then all of a sudden I was too old,” Lisa revealed in the Paramount Network documentary, I Am Patrick Swayze, in August 2019 and continued:
“I probably should have been better informed about to go about it, but anyway I may have wasted some time. But you know I said ‘you know, how would you feel about adopting?’ He got very teary-eyed and he said ‘I want to have children with you.’”
“Patrick very much wanted to be a father because I think he wanted to be as good a father to his child as his dad had been to him,” his manager, Kate Edwards, later said in the documentary.
Patrick’s brother, Don Swayze, also gave some heartbreaking insight into the movie star’s desperate will to be a dad.
“You could tell he would have been a great dad, Just as an uncle you could see it, you could see the amazing dad he would be,” Don revealed. ” … He would have never wanted Lisa feeling bad for having miscarriages, but it crushed him, so they tried.”
Back to Broadway
It was, of course, a significant setback for Patrick Swayze that he never got to be a father. But his career continued to flourish. He was named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in August 1991. Then, in 1997, he was given the prestigious honor of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for his contribution to the film industry.
The balletically athletic actor had risen to stardom with amazing performances in both Dirty Dancing and Ghost. However, the 1990s wasn’t easy on him.
Following his great success, Patrick Swayze starred in films like City of Joy (1992), Tale Tale (1995), Black Dog (1998) among others.
However, his performances weren’t well-received among critics and audiences, which led to Swayze changing paths regarding his acting.
Instead of performing solely for an audience sitting in a cinema theatre, the Dirty Dancing star headed to Broadway.
In 2003, he was the replacement as the lead role of “Billy Flynn” in the revival of the musical Chicago. The production toured the United States, playing all over the country.
Fate might have also seen a return to Dirty Dancing for Patrick, as well. According to IMDB, he turned down $6 million to do a sequel of the beloved movie.
For him, though, fame didn’t matter. Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi considered their love for each other the most important thing. Tragically, their story was to end in mourning.
Patrick Swayze was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in late 2007. Speaking to Access Online, the actor said he noticed how his body was chancing on New Year’s Eve of 2008. He said he “dropped about 20 pounds in the blink of an eye.”
For Lisa, it was one of the toughest things to ever hear.
“For the first few weeks, it was like being in a nightmare you couldn’t wake up from,” she told Access Online in January of 2009.
Patrick Swayze – cancer
Swayze, a life-long heavy smoker, was treated at the Stanford University by Dr. George A. Fisher. It was serious. But Swayze wouldn’t quit working, or smoking.
“I’ve seriously cut down,” Patrick told Barbara Walters. “I was one of those dumb ones that started back in the Marlborough Man days whose — you know, it was cool. I’m a cowboy. But I’ll tell you one thing. I will talk so hard core against, against smoking for kids. That’s one reason I’ve never smoked in front of children.”
He starred in 13 episodes of the TV series The Beast, which was filmed over at least 12-hour days.
“I think everybody thought I was out of my mind, you know, thinking I’m gonna pull off a TV show,” Swayze said.
Swayze’s last work would be on the movie Velvet Blue in 2009. By then, the cancer had taken its toll on him. On September 14, 2009, Patrick Swayze passed away, aged 57.
The world mourned the popular, beloved and well-known actor. Many thought that it was his continuous smoking habit that had killed him.
Patrick Swayze – cause of death
Yet, according to his doctor, that wasn’t the case. Instead, he saw it as “quite an accomplishment” that Swayze survived as long as two years with the condition.
“I think at the point that one is already diagnosed with cancer, there’s little additional harm in it,” Dr. Fisher said. “And if it — it seems to provide him some comfort or partly identity of who he is, I certainly have no objections to that.”
Before his passing, Patrick provided his mother with a house and also sent her a monthly allowance, which wife Lisa continued to do.
He left his $40 million fortune to his wife. Swayze’s family would once again turn to Lisa with anger as she reportedly sold his movie memorabilia on E-Bay, with his leather jacket from Dirty Dancing and some of his cars being two of the items.
“These were family heirlooms. It’s a slap in the face that she’s selling these precious memories,” his niece Danielle Swayze said.
“No matter what, it’s still a letting go. There’s always a little bit of loss associated with that,” Lisa explained. “While it’s a very positive thing to do, it’s a difficult thing to do. I’m such a lucky woman to have had a man who loved me as much as Patrick did.”
Lisa Niemi – husband Albert DePriscan
In 2014, Lisa Niemi took – as she said – ”a leap of faith” when she married jeweler Albert DePriscan, whom she met through mutual friends.
Lisa wasn’t used to falling in love – now she felt a ”sick feeling, butterfly stomach, rubbery legs, and diminished mental capacity.”
But she also struggled with her emotions regarding marrying someone else after Patrick. However, she loved Albert and he knows she always will love her first husband.
”Albert knew I still loved Patrick and would always love him, and told me, ‘and I know you love me, and I love you.’ How could I not marry this man?,” Lisa told People and added:
”As I had time to process the change my life was going to take, my doubts became less and less, and I became more and more sure.”
Just before tieing the knot with DePriscan, Lisa dreamed about Swayze. She interpreted it as him trying to tell her something from the other side.
She said: “About a month and a half ago, I had a dream about Patrick. It was like he was giving me his blessing and letting me know it was okay.”
Still, to this day, Lisa shows her love for her late husband Patrick Swayze.
In September 2020, on the 11th anniversary of his passing, she took to Instagram to post an emotional text about him, along with a beautiful picture.
“Celebrating a wonderfully strong, sensitive & special man on the 11th anniversary of his passing. So missed. Can’t help but feel a dark cloud today (and all last week!), but grateful for what we had together. What a journey! Blessed, even with the tears”, Lisa wrote.
Patrick Swayze will always have a special place in our hearts. He was a wonderful actor and dancer, but, foremost, a loving husband and fantastic man.
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