Patrick Swayze (1952-2009), the much beloved star of “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost,” died too soon, but he lived a grand and glorious life. He battled demons, to be sure, but he had the chance to live his dream.
Born in Houston to a father who worked in the oil fields and a mother who ran a dancing school, “Buddy” Swayze lived in two worlds – on the football field and in the dance studio – until a knee injury ended his dreams of a football scholarship.
After rehabilitating his knee, Swayze tried gymnastics, but an injury on the rings kept him from the Olympic trials.
After a stint with “Disney on Parade,” where he danced the role of Prince Charming, among others, Swayze left Houston and moved to New York City to become a member of the Harkness Ballet.
While growing up in Houston, Swayze met and fell in love with Lisa Haapaniemi, one of the students at his mother’s studio. They married when he was 22 and Lisa only 19.
Together, the two dancers carved their way through the ups and downs of fledgling careers, Swayze’s drinking problems and how the couple learned to deal with his eventual Hollywood success.
He details his fun on the set of “North and South,” his fight to play Johnny Castle, the star-making role in “Dirty Dancing;” and how he insisted Whoopi Goldberg play Oda Mae Brown in “Ghost,” the part that won the comedienne an Academy Award.
If you’re a fan, you will almost be able to hear Swayze’s voice as you read the chapters. What’s missing is input from Niemi. Other than the Dedication Page, her voice is absent.
He addresses the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, but chooses to end the story with the 2008 renewal of his vows to the love of his life.
“...You are my woman, my lover, my mate and my lady. I’ve loved you forever, I love you now and I will love you forevermore.”
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