Thursday, August 9, 2012

Influences: Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze is one of my all time favorite actors. I wanted to feature him as a LEGEND, however, I’m not quite sure he would classify as one. Maybe in my mind he is, but maybe not so much by the general public at large. And I guess in a roundabout manner, he did kind of influence me. I have this friend, Mason, who is a dead ringer “look-a-like” for Patrick. Mason is the one who really helped to train me in martial arts. I don’t know how that all fits in, but it’s enough for me. I guess when I went through my “thinking about acting” phase, it was largely due to Patrick. My favorite films of his would be “Red Dawn” (own it) “Dirty Dancing” (own it) “Ghost” (own it) “Point Break” (own it) “The Outsiders” (own it) “Youngblood” (don’t own it, yet) “Next Of Kin” (own it) “Three Wishes” (own it) and of course, “Road House” (own it) And his song, “She’s Like The Wind” ranks right up there as one of my all-time favorites also. I think the fact that he was also a Leo made me feel kind of kindred to him. I don’t know, it’s a Leo thing.

Patrick Swayze was born on August 18, 1952, in Houston, Texas, the second child of Patsy Yvonne Helen (née Karnes; born 1927), a choreographer, dance instructor, and dancer, and Jesse Wayne Swayze (1925–1982), an engineering draftsman. He had two younger brothers, actor Don Swayze (born 1958) and Sean Kyle (born 1962), and two sisters, Vickie Lynn (1949–1994) and Bambi. He was a sixth cousin once removed of news commentator John Cameron Swayze, and a relative of noted Texas Revolution soldier Henry Karnes. Patrick was raised Roman Catholic.

Until the age of twenty, Swayze 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 played football for his high school and was hoping to receive a football scholarship for college until a knee injury ended his career. 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 then starred as a replacement playing the role of Danny Zuko in the long-running Broadway production of “Grease” before his debut film role as “Ace” in “Skatetown, USA”. He appeared as Pvt. Sturgis in the M*A*S*H episode “Blood Brothers” and had a brief stint in 1982 on a short lived TV series “The Renegades” playing a gang leader named Bandit. Swayze became known to the film industry after appearing in “The Outsiders” as the older brother of C. Thomas Howell and Rob Lowe. Swayze, Howell, and Howell's friend Darren Dalton reunited in the film “Red Dawn” the next year, and Lowe and Swayze reunited in “Youngblood“. He was considered a member of the Brat Pack. His first major success was in the 1985 television miniseries “North and South” (own it) which was set during the American Civil War.

Swayze's breakthrough role came with his performance as dance instructor Johnny Castle in the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing“, alongside his “Red Dawn” co-star, Jennifer Grey. “Dirty Dancing” is a coming of age story that was a low-budget film, and 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 2009, it earned over $214 million worldwide and spawned several alternative versions, ranging from a television series to stage productions to a computer game. Swayze 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 co-written with Stacy Widelitz for the film Grandview USA. The song became a top ten hit and has been covered by other artists.

After “Dirty Dancing” Swayze found himself typecast and appeared in several flops, of which “Road House” was the most successful. His biggest hit came in 1990, when he starred in “Ghost“, with Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. In 1991, he starred alongside “Youngblood” cast mate Keanu Reeves in another major action hit, “Point Break“, and was also chosen by People magazine as that year's "Sexiest Man Alive". (I came in second place … LOL …. Just kidding!)

Swayze was married to Lisa Niemi from June 12, 1975, until his death. The couple first met in 1970 when Swayze was 18 years old. Niemi, 15 years old at the time, was taking dance lessons from Swayze's mother. Swayze and Niemi had no children. In a 2008 interview, Swayze stated that Niemi was the inspiration for his 1987 hit song, “She’s Like The Wind”.

As a reaction to his father's death at age 57 from a heart attack in 1982, Swayze began to drink heavily. In 1989, Swayze said, “I've always felt there was something different in there (my personality), but I was scared to look for fear I wouldn't find anything. That's the reason I got into Buddhism, took martial arts training, was into therapy, into Scientology, into Transcendental Meditation. I was trying to support that side of myself. But, you know, in Texas there isn't much support for that part of you.” His sister Vicky committed suicide by drug overdose 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, who was a certified 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. His plane developed a pressurization problem, causing Swayze 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, but Swayze was unharmed. He locked the cockpit, left the aircraft 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 Swayze appeared to be extremely intoxicated and asked for help to remove evidence - 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 probable cause of the accident was Swayze's physical impairment due to the cumulative effects of carbon monoxide from engine exhaust by-products, carbon monoxide from heavy tobacco use, and the loss of an undetermined amount of cabin pressurization.

In late January 2008, Swayze was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer (specifically, intraductal papillary mutinous neoplasm.) He traveled to the Stanford University Medicl Center for chemotherapy and treatment with the experimental drug Vatalanib, the latter of which doctors hoped would cut off the blood supply to the tumor. On March 5, 2008, a Reuters article reported that Swayze “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 was not as close to death as reports suggest. Despite repeated tabloid claims that his death was imminent, Swayze continued to actively pursue his career.

In early May 2008, it was widely reported in a number of tabloids that Swayze 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, Swayze 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 Swayze was treated with Cyberknife radiotherapy cancer treatment. In late July 2008, six months after reportedly being given just weeks to live by medical experts, a healthy-appearing Swayze was asked by reporter in Los Angeles airport about this health. He replied, “I'm cooking. I'm a miracle dude. I don't know why“.

Swayze 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. Swayze 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, Swayze remained on-stage 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, Swayze denied claims made by tabloids that the cancer had spread to his liver. Swayze told Barbara Walters in January 2009 that he wanted the media to report that he was “kicking it“.

His last role was the lead in an A&E TV series, “The Beast“, which premiered on January 15, 2009. Owing to a prolonged decline in health, Swayze was unable to promote the series, and on June 15, 2009, “Entertainment Tonight” reported that the show had been cancelled. In an interview with Barbara Walters which aired in January 2009, Swayze admitted that he had a “tiny little mass” in his liver. On January 9, 2009, Swayze 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. On April 19, 2009, doctors informed Swayze that the cancer had again metastasized to his liver. Swayze stated that his chain smoking probably “had something to do with” the development of his disease. Photos taken of a gaunt Swayze in the months before his death showed him continuing to smoke.

Swayze died with family at his side on September 14, 2009, at age 57, 20 months after being diagnosed. Swayze's publicist, Annett Wolf, confirmed to CNN that he had died of pancreatic cancer. He was cremated and his ashes scattered over his New Mexico ranch. He is survived by his wife Lisa Niemi, along with his mother, both brothers and one sister.

Of all the famous people who have passed on over the last ten years, only Patrick Swayze, Whitney Houston and Dick Clark have I thought to myself, "Man, I sure do miss them."


Source: Wikipedia -

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  2. I, too, miss Patrick. I looked forward to his films, loved his characters (even the "bad" ones), and ached for his pain. Thank God for giving us Patrick... : )

  3. I just recently had the time to learn more about Patrick Swayze. I am hoping somebody makes a book with his photographs just like what was done with Marilyn Monroe.

    1. I think a lot of his fans would love to see that happen. He is mourned by many. Even to this day. Myself included. I continue to enjoy many of his films.

  4. So glad to see him remembered as a wonderful spirit.

    1. Heard recently his widow has gotten engaged. So happy to see her moving forward in her life. I know Patrick would want her to be happy. That's just the kind of person he was.


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