Patrick Swayze, the hunky actor who danced his way into moviegoers’ hearts with “Dirty Dancing” and then broke them with “Ghost,” died Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57.
“Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully on Monday with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months,” his publicist, Annett Wolf, said in a statement Monday evening. Swayze died in Los Angeles, Wolf said, but she declined to give further details.
Fans of the actor were saddened to learn in March 2008 that Swayze was suffering from a particularly deadly form of cancer. He kept working despite the diagnosis, putting together a memoir with his wife and shooting “The Beast,” an A&E drama series for which he had already made the pilot.
Swayze said he opted not to use painkilling drugs while making “The Beast” because they would have taken the edge off his performance. The show drew a respectable 1.3 million viewers when the 13 episodes ran in 2009, but A&E said it had reluctantly decided not to renew it for a second season.
When he first went public with the illness, some reports gave him only weeks to live, but his doctor said his situation was “considerably more optimistic” than that. Swayze acknowledged that time might be running out given the grim nature of the disease.
“I’d say five years is pretty wishful thinking,” Swayze told ABC‘s Barbara Walters in early 2009. “Two years seems likely if you’re going to believe statistics. I want to last until they find a cure, which means I’d better get a fire under it.”
C. Thomas Howell, who costarred with Swayze in “The Outsiders,” “Grandview U.S.A.” and “Red Dawn,” said: “I have always had a special place in my heart for Patrick. While I was fortunate enough to work with him in three films, it was our passion for horses that forged a friendship between us that I treasure to this day. Not only did we lose a fine actor today, I lost my older ‘Outsiders’ brother.”
Other celebrities used Twitter to express condolences, and “Dirty Dancing” was the top trending topic for a while Monday night, trailed by several other Swayze films.
Ashton Kutcher — whose wife, Demi Moore, costarred with Swayze in “Ghost” — wrote: “RIP P Swayze.” Kutcher also linked to a YouTube clip of the actor poking fun at himself in a classic “Saturday Night Live” sketch, in which he played a wannabe Chippendales dancer alongside the corpulent — and frighteningly shirtless — Chris Farley.
Larry King wrote: “Patrick Swayze was a wonderful actor & a terrific guy. He put his heart in everything. He was an extraordinary fighter in his battle w Cancer.” King added that he’d do a tribute to Swayze on his CNN program on Tuesday night.
Check out some photos below of Patrick in “Dirty Dancing”
“I was such a huge fan of the movie, “Dirty Dancing”. I had the movie that I used to play in my VCR over and over again. My cousin and I would dance and try to do the lift he used do, but we just seemed to never get it right. He was such a great actor and he will surely be missed.”
Rest in Peace Patrick Swayze 1952 – 2009.