It is impossible to doubt that Patrick Swayze was a man of action. Whether he was acting in dazzling fight scenes, performing incredible dances, or singing in the soundtrack, Swayze was beloved for his many classic film roles. Even now, nearly ten years after his death, Swayze’s reputation has not faded and his movies continue to make people’s personal favorite lists.
In honor of his memory, we here at Factinate have put together this list of interesting trivia about Swayze’s life and diverse career!
Patrick Swayze Facts
1. What a Hunk!
Back in 1991, Swayze was named by People Magazine as the “Sexiest Man Alive.”
2. Let’s Go Method!
The first major hit in Patrick Swayze’s career was the classic coming-of-age drama The Outsiders. Swayze played Darrel “Darry” Curtis, the hardworking oldest brother of the film’s protagonist. Strangely, prior to filming, Swayze was encouraged by the film’s director to spend a night in the house where his character lives in the film.
When Francis Ford Coppola gives instructions, actors tend to listen! Swayze was joined by 1980s superstars Rob Lowe and C. Thomas Howell, who played his brothers Sodapop and Ponyboy in the heartrending film. Although none of the actors were proficient cooks, they stayed in character and tried to make a meal together as brothers would in real life. Their fraternal chemistry in the movie suggests that the activity worked – even if the meal wasn’t great!
3. Recurring Collaborator
Speaking of C. Thomas Howell, he and Swayze reunited on two different films the year after they did The Outsiders together. These films were Red Dawn and Grandview, USA.
4. A Star is Born
Patrick Swayze was born on the 18th of August 1958 in Houston, Texas. He was the second of five children born to dancer and choreographer Patsy Swayze and engineering draftsman Jesse Swayze. His mom must have been very proud when she saw her son perform the famous lift scene in the final number of Dirty Dancing.
5. Little Bro
Speaking of Swayze’s siblings, he wasn’t the only one of them to go into show business. His younger brother Don Swayze has had an extensive career as a character actor. The television series that he’s appeared in include The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, Longmire, Criminal Minds, True Blood, and The X Files.
6. Filling That Niche
In the span of two years, Swayze made two war films with filmmaker John Milius: Uncommon Valor and Red Dawn.
7. Dancing King
Before his acting career kicked off, Swayze was an accomplished dancer. He trained at the Harkness Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet School, both located in New York.
8. Was This Before or After “Africa?”
If you think Swayze only ever used his dancing skills for film roles, you’d be gravely mistaken. Swayze famously appeared as a dancer in the music video shot for the 1982 single “Rosanna” by the band Toto. Look carefully and you’ll spot him in a red jacket, which he flings off around four minutes into the video.
9. It’s Been a While!
Swayze’s first feature film was the roller-skating movie Skatetown, USA. Swayze was a natural pick for the role: he had actually done a lot of roller skating as a youth in Houston. As a kid, one of his partners was a girl named April Allen. She’d become his co-star in Skatetown, USA when the childhood friends were reunited after being out of contact for 11 years.
10. The Lost Film
If you’re curious to watch Swayze in his acting debut, you will have to look very hard. Though it has major nostalgic appeal, this comedy about roller disco has never been released on home video or DVD, though it did get the retrospective nickname Dirty Skating after Swayze became a superstar with Dirty Dancing.
11. Boyish Good Looks
Have you ever seen a movie or TV show about high school and noticed that the entire student body looks like they should have graduated years ago? From Grease to Glee, Hollywood is known for casting actors who are much older than the characters they portray onscreen. Patrick Swayze was no exception to this rule.
In The Outsiders, the 29-year-old Swayze portrayed a 20-year-old character (20 was coincidentally the same age as Swayze’s co-star Ralph Macchio who portrayed Johnny in the classic film). In Dirty Dancing, Swayze’s character was again 20, but Swayze was almost double that age, clocking in at 35 years old during filming.
12. You’re Saying She Had the Time of Her Life?
Almost nobody could deny the chemistry between Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. However, this iconic onscreen pairing almost didn’t happen. Grey and Swayze had previously acted together in Red Dawn and they hadn’t gotten along at all. Grey needed some persuading to even do a dancing screen test with Swayze but of course, it worked out and the rest is history.
Swayze was nominated for three Golden Globes over the course of his career. The films he was nominated for were Dirty Dancing, Ghost, and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, which saw Swayze play a New York City drag queen who goes on a road trip to compete in the Miss Drag Queen of America pageant. Sadly for Swayze fans, he didn’t win any of these awards but hey, it’s still an honor to be nominated.
14. Missed by a Hair!
It’s always fun to imagine how different casing choices would have changed classic movies. Over Swayze’s career, he was considered for several iconic roles including Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon (played by Mel Gibson), Connor MacLeod in Highlander (played by Christopher Lambert), and Bruce Wayne in the 1989 Batman film (played by Michael Keaton).
15. Meet Cute
When Swayze was 19 years old, he came across a young woman who took dancing lessons from his mother, Patsy. The 15-year-old was Lisa Niemi. Swayze and Niemi got married in 1975 and remained married until Swayze’s death in 2009. Niemi also wrote and directed the 2003 film One Last Dance. It’s about dancers in New York City and it stars, you guessed it, Patrick Swayze.
16. Oh, My Darling
No, it wasn’t just you, ladies. Swayze himself once quipped that the pottery scene from Ghost was the sexiest thing that he ever did on screen. We can’t imagine that many of you disagree.
17. Go with God
In two of Swayze’s films, the last words uttered to his character by another character are the Spanish blessing “Vaya con Dios” which translates to “Go with God.” The films in question are the surfer thriller Point Break and the war film Red Dawn. Spoiler alert: Swayze’s character might die at the end of these movies.
18. What a Cheesy Sentence!
Surprisingly, Swayze really disliked the iconic line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” He claimed that it took all his acting ability to get the phrase out of his mouth without sounding melodramatic or sappy. We don’t know about you but here at Factinate, nobody puts “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” in a corner. Not even Patrick Swayze.
19. I Suppose I Can Play the Bad Guy…
One of Swayze’s most famous performances is his turn as the charismatic surfer/bank robber Bodhi in the action film Point Break. Interestingly, Swayze had initially pursued the more conventional protagonist role of Johnny Utah. Utah’s role was given to Keanu Reeves, who’d previously appeared with Swayze in Youngblood.
20. Old Friend
Reportedly, it was Swayze himself who persuaded the producers of Ghost to cast Whoopi Goldberg as the psychic Oda Mae – a role for which Goldberg eventually won an Academy Award. Later, Goldberg would tearfully announce Swayze’s death while she was on The View, paying a touching verbal tribute to his memory.
21. You’re Too Good!
The irony of Swayze being in Dirty Dancing was that he actually had to tone down his dancing abilities! According to Swayze’s brother, the character of Johnny Castle isn’t supposed to be a professional dancer, so Swayze’s dancing skills had to be rougher and more amateurish than Swayze’s refined dancing style which was honed by years of professional training.
22. Passing Fashion Sense?
When it came time to portray a menacing motivational speaker the 2001 cult film Donnie Darko, Swayze provided his own California ranch as a shooting location for the film. He also wore his own clothes that he’d worn during the 1980s to give his character a signature (and slightly creepy) out-of-touch appearance.
23. Some Me Time
During the 1990s, Swayze took time off from his film career to enter a rehabilitation program for alcohol-related concerns. After he left rehab, he spent more and more time on his ranches in New Mexico and California, focusing on horse breeding. For any curious equestrians reading this article, Swayze’s preferred breed were Arabian horses.
24. Someone’s Doing Their Homework!
In order to properly portray a ghost onscreen, Swayze regularly chewed ice before he was supposed to speak . This was done to make sure that the camera wouldn’t pick up his breath when he spoke.
25. Too Good for Two! Wait…
Allegedly, Swayze was offered to reprise his role of Johnny Castle in a sequel to Dirty Dancing, but he refused. Even when the paycheck would have been $6 million, Swayze stuck to his guns. Of course, this didn’t stop him from making a brief appearance as a dance instructor in the 2004 sequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.
26. At Least I Lost to Captain Kirk
It’s safe to say that 1990 was not a good year for Swayze, at least where the critics were concerned. That was the year that he was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Actor – and even worse, he actually received nominations for not just one but two films. These were the violent action film Road House and the hillbilly cop film Next of Kin. If it was any consolation to Swayze, both films went on to become cult classics among movie fans.
27. Stepping Outside My Box
Of all the roles he performed over his long career, Swayze considered his role in Ghost to be the most difficult. A large reason for this choice was because for once in his career, he wasn’t the one partaking in action, but observing it instead.
28. Family Project?
Despite the fact that both men were actors, Swayze and his brother Don only ever made one film together, and it was the last film that Swayze ever worked on (more on that later).
29. Rough Time
During the filming of Road House, Swayze was insistent upon committing to the part and doing his own stunts. Apparently, he was an extremely skilled athlete: martial arts champion Benny Urquidez was so impressed with Swayze’s skills and work ethic that he even suggested that Swayze go into professional kickboxing.
However, there was a heavy cost to working on such a violent and action-oriented story to the point where Swayze later marveled at the fact that he managed to survive the film’s production. Because he participated in so many stunts, Swayze was injured on several occasions, with the worst injury damaging his knee.
Road House wasn’t the first time that Swayze’s action-heavy performances had gotten his knee badly hurt. The same thing happened on the set of Dirty Dancing. Swayze repeatedly fell off a log in the scene where Johnny teaches Baby to balance by making her practice her moves on a log suspended in mid-air. Even though Johnny’s the expert in the scene, Swayze struggled to keep his balance. The magic of cinema!
31. One Step Back, Two Steps Forward
Swayze’s knee injury on Road House caused him to turn down leading roles in the action-focused films Tango & Cash and Predator 2. However, the silver lining came when Swayze decided to find a drama to act in while he recovered. He chose remarkably well: the film he chose was Ghost, which went on to be one of the biggest films of his career.
32. No Ghosting!!
One element of Swayze’s legacy was mocked and parodied in a highly popular episode of the college comedy series Community. Three of the main characters join a pottery class, whose instructor insists that the only rule is that nobody is allowed to re-enact the scene from Ghost between Swayze and Demi Moore (you know the one). Predictably, the scene ends up getting re-enacted with bad consequences!
33. Voice of an Angel
In 1987, Swayze released the power ballad “She’s Like the Wind.” Co-written and co-performed by Swayze, the song was surprisingly successful, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Swayze originally meant for it to be used in the film Grandview, USA, but it was ultimately picked up for the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing.
34. For You, Dear
According to Swayze in 2008, he was inspired by his wife Lisa when writing and singing “She’s Like the Wind.” We can imagine what a nice anniversary gift that single would have made!
35. You Drive a Hard Bargain!
One of the most memorable scenes from Swayze’s film Point Break has to be the sequence where the main characters go skydiving. Skydiving happened to be a passionate hobby of Swayze’s, to the point where he badgered his co-star Gary Busey into trying it out with him. In fact, Swayze’s enthusiasm for skydiving was such that the production company insisted that he give it up during production for insurance purposes. Swayze was mollified by the promise that he’d get to indulge himself when they filmed the skydiving scene for the film.
36. Action Junkie
Skydiving wasn’t the only part of Point Break that Swayze was gung-ho about doing himself. He also participated in most of the surfing scenes rather than using a stunt double. The way he saw it, he’d previously done his own stunts for car and fight scenes, so he reckoned he ought to do as much as he could with the surfing as well.
37. Long Before #YOLO
It’s worth pointing out that Swayze’s commitment to performing his own surfing stunts didn’t leave him entirely unscathed. Over the course of filming the many surfing scenes in Point Break, Swayze cracked four of his ribs. Somehow, we feel like he’d consider these fractures to be fair price, given the iconic final product.
38. Not with a Bang, but a Whimper
The last feature film which Swayze appeared in was the indie drama Powder Blue. Swayze portrayed Velvet Larry, a crime boss who also owns a strip club where one of the protagonists works. Swayze passed away a few months after the film was released. Sadly, Powder Blue got a very limited theatrical release and received mostly negative reviews from critics.
39. F****ing Dirty Dancing…
One of the most random tributes to Swayze can be found in the foulmouthed Canadian comedy series Trailer Park Boys. The main character Julian is portrayed as having been a fan of Dirty Dancing as a youth but was ridiculed so heavily for this interest that it’s become a trigger for his temper. In the fifth-season episode “Conky,” Bubbles uses his titular hand puppet to mock Julian by calling him “Patrick Swayze.” Enraged, Julian shoots Conky’s head off in response.
40. What in the F***?
As if that wasn’t weird enough, Trailer Park Boys one-upped themselves with plentiful (and bizarre) references to Swayze in the show’s seventh season. In this season, it’s established that there’s a man who shares Swayze’s name (with an extra “I” added to his surname) who is a celebrity in—of all things—the model train world.
Bubbles, who is obsessed with model trains, steals Swayzie’s model train which plays a role in the climax of the season. For legal reasons, the episodes of Trailer Park Boys’ seventh season all begin with a disclaimer that states “Patrick Swayze has no affiliation with this program and has not authorized any use of his name in this program.” We can only hope that Swayze had a good laugh over the whole thing.
41. Farewell, Patrick
Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008. Swayze himself speculated that his heavy smoking habit may have played a part but he was still unable to quit smoking, even after his diagnosis. Swayze passed away on the September 14, 2009 at the age of 57.
42. Like Father, Like Son?
In a bit of haunting parallel, Swayze died at the exact same age his father had been when he died. In Jesse Swayze’s case, though, it was a heart attack which claimed his life.