Hailed from Houston, Texas, where he was born and raised, actor Patrick Swayze got his start as a dancer before finally taking acting as a full-time career. Kicking off his movie career in late 70s with a part in the comedy Skatetown, U.S.A, the handsome leading man achieved major prominence and recognition with his star-making-turn, as the arrogant dance champ in the surprise hit Dirty Dancing (1987). For his efforts, Swayze was handed a Golden Globe nomination and a BMI Film & TV Award. The athletic actor gained additional attention for playing Demi Moore’s murdered boyfriend in the highly successful Ghost (1990, earned a second Golden Globe nod), a bank robber in Point Break (1991, received MTV Movie nomination) and a drag queen in the comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995, nominated for his third Golden Globe Awards). Aside from TV and film, the 1992 recipient of Sho West Male Star of the Year was also an accomplished stage actor. His most recent credits include the hit “Guys And Dolls” (2006), at the Piccadilly Theatre in London.
“I would be dead if it weren't for Lisa (his wife), on many more levels than drinking. I have a wild-man edge. If my life looks good, I sabotage it. With Lisa, I don’t even get a chance to go too far into stupidity." Patrick Swayze on his alcoholism
Off screen, the 1991 People magazine’s “Most Sexiest Man Alive,” Swayze disclosed he had checked himself into a rehab clinic for a serious drinking problem. After this incident, he and his wife moved away to their ranch in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in Texas. In 1997, he received star 2,094 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. On more personal note, the co-owner of a restaurant called Bobby O’s City Bites (with Bobby Ochs), Swayze is very religious and is known for his devotion in the healing power of crystals. The ex- Roman Catholic was rumored to have been interested in being a Buddhist. As for his marriage life, Swayze has spent time outside the limelight with his wife of 31 years, dance/actress Lisa Niemi. The couple co-founded a production company named Troph.
Childhood and Family:
Son to engineering draftsman Jesse Swayze and choreographer and ballet school owner Patsy Yvonne Helen Karnes, Patrick Wayne Swayze was born on August 18, 1952, in Houston, Texas. He has two sisters, Vicky (committed suicide in 1994) and Bambi, and two brothers, Sean and Don (actor, born in 1958). Patrick was educated in Oak Forest Elementary School, Black Middle School and Waltrip High School in Houston, as well as the Harkness and Joffrey Ballet Schools in New York City. He was accepted in San Jacinto College in Houston, Texas, on athletics scholarship, but dropped out to pursue dancing career. He took drama classes with Warren Robertson in New York and Milton Katselas in Los Angeles.
As a child of choreographer, Patrick grew up familiar to dance. No wonder, he found an early passion for ballet until high school when he switched gears into athletics, excelling in such sports as swimming, juggling gymnastics and football. He kept on doing gymnastics while in college before finally returning to dancing.
After a tour with the Disney on Parade ice show, Patrick went home and fell for his mother’s dance student, Lisa Niemi. At that time, Lisa was still 16 years old and, after high school she joined Patrick in New York, where the two attended ballet schools. He eventually married his actress/dancer girlfriend, Lisa, on June 12, 1975.
Son of a dancer, Patrick Swayze left college after studying for two years to tour with the Disney on Parade ice show, where he began dancing professionally as Snow White’s Prince Charming. In 1972, the native of Houston, Texas made his way to New York to further pursue his career and was immediately recruited as a principal dancer with the Eliot Feld Ballet Company.
Unfortunately, this former athlete was forced to damp his successful career in the prestigious company when a previous football injury required him to undertake knee surgery. Swayze then transformed his skills to stage acting and made his Broadway debut with the 1976 production of “Goodtime Charley.” He followed it up with an appearance in West Side Story and starred in the Broadway musical “Grease” two years later. His impressive performance as Danny Zuko in the latter brought Swayze numerous film and TV offers.
A year after the high-profile feat, Swayze hit the wide screen for the first time with a small part as Ace Johnson in the comedy film Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979), starring Scott Baio and Flip Wilson. He next made his TV movie debut in The Comeback Kid (1980) and offered a memorable guest spot as a leukemia patient in one episode of “M*A*S*H” (1981). After television films Return of the Rebels (1981) and The Renegades (1982), Swayze teamed with director Francis Ford Coppola who cast him opposite future stars Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon and Emilio Estevez in the teen drama The Outsiders (1983), had an unaccredited part in Staying Alive (1983), appeared in the Gene Hackman vehicle Uncommon Valor (1983) and played a gang member on the ABC short-lived police drama “The Renegades” (1983). He also had roles in Pigs vs. Freaks (1984, TV) and the unmemorable films Grandview, U.S.A. (1984) and Red Dawn (1984, landed his first lead as Jed Eckert), as well as in miniseries “North and South” (1985) and its sequel “North and South, Book II” (1986).
With a thick acting resume in his pocket, Swayze finally scored a victory when director Emile Ardolino had him costar with Jennifer Grey in the drama/music Dirty Dancing (1987). The film was an immediate hit and so was Swayze. Promisingly playing overconfident, quarrelsome dance champion Johnny Castle, he earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical. The film’s success, coupled with the nod effectively established Swayze as the newest heartthrob in Hollywood. Aside from acting, he also wrote, composed and sang for the hit soundtrack “She’s Like the Wind,” which won him a BMI Film & TV for Most Performed Song from a Film.
Following Steel Dawn (1987), Tiger Warsaw (1988) and well-received action films Road House (1989) and Next of Kin (1989), Swayze once again became the center of interest when he played the lead of Sam Wheat, a killed executive attempting to communicate with his lover (Demi Moore) through a phony medium (Whoopi Goldberg) in the Jerry Zucker-helmed Ghost (1990). The romantic drama was also a box office success and Swayze took home his next Golden Globe nomination. His fame was well-set up in the next year when he fronted People magazine’s cover and was elected the magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”
Still in 1991, he was nominated for Most Desirable Male at MTV Movie Awards for his role as a quasi-mystical surfer-bank thief opposite undercover FBI guy Keanu Reeves in the action-adventure Point Break. Next up were roles in City of Joy (1992), Father Hood (1993) and Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of Pecos Bill (1995), which all failed to make an impact to audiences. He bounced back with a Golden Globe-nominating performance as Vida Boheme, one of three drag queens in the comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995). But, his miserable portrayal, as a traveler cum magical father-figure, in the mediocre family fantasy-drama Three Wishes (1995) put him away from the spotlight again. In 1998, he made a fruitless comeback with two unremarkable films: action movie Black Dog and the thriller Letters From a Killer. His deprived film choices as well as a serious drinking problem rigorously held back Swayze’s career.
Despite his struggles, Swayze went on to make films. 2000-2003 saw roles in the romantic comedies Forever Lulu (2000, opposite Melanie Griffith), the well-received sci-fi Donnie Darko (2001), the Sundance-screened The Green Dragon (2001), the high-profile ensemble comedy Wakin’ Up in Reno (2002, with Charlize Theron, Billy Bob Thorton and Natasha Richardson), One Last Dance (2003), 11:14 (2003). Also in 2003, he resurfaced as polished attorney Billy Flynn in the acclaimed Broadway musical “Chicago,” which won a Tony.
A guest spot as a choreographer on the sitcom “Whoopi,” followed in 2004, before making a cameo appearance as a dance instructor in a quasi-sequel to the 1987 Dirty Dancing, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004), playing Garth in George and the Dragon (2004) and being cast as Allan Quatermain in King Solomon’s Mines (2004, TV). In 2005, he added Icon (2005, TV) and Keeping Mum to his acting resume. Lately, he joined the cast of hit West End musical “Guys And Dolls,” at the Piccadilly Theatre in London.
- ShoWest Convention: ShoWest Award - Male Star of the Year, 1992
- BMI Film & TV: Most Performed Song from a Film, Dirty dancing, 1989