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How Swayze danced into fans' hearts

6 March 08 13:55 GMT

Actor Patrick Swayze, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, is best known for his roles in the hit films Ghost and Dirty Dancing.

It was his role in the latter as a dance teacher with a penchant for tight trousers and Cuban heels that turned the Texas-born performer into an overnight sensation.

The film celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and has since spawned a London musical, while his line "nobody puts Baby in the corner!" has become one of the most quoted in movie history.

He consolidated his celebrity with action roles in the 1989 films Road House and Next of Kin, but it was his portrayal of a boyfriend who comes back from the dead in 1990's Ghost that confirmed his status as a romantic leading man.

The scene where he sculpts clay with co-star Demi Moore, accompanied by the Righteous Brothers' Unchained Melody, swiftly became iconic.

And "Swayze" even made it into the hip-hop lexicon as an adjective meaning "gone" or "disappeared".


Before he turned to acting, Patrick Wayne Swayze had been a professional dancer and accomplished figure skater.

After suffering a knee injury, he moved into musical theatre and landed roles on Broadway - among them Danny Zuko in the stage version of Grease.

Swayze's first film roles were undistinguished, though 1984's Red Dawn - in which he played a young man defending America against a Soviet invasion - helped raise his profile.

But the combination of Dirty Dancing and Ghost made him one of Hollywood's hottest properties.

By 1991 he was famous enough to be voted "sexiest man alive" by People magazine.

His subsequent movie outings, however, were greeted with rather less acclaim.


Worthy drama City of Joy flopped at the box office, though Swayze did surprise audiences by appearing in drag in 1995 comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.

But a series of personal setbacks in the late 1990s - among them a horse accident that left him temporarily paralysed, the death of his father and his sister's suicide - saw him spiral into alcoholism.

An uncharacteristically sinister role in 2001 cult film Donnie Darko seemed to signal a change in his fortunes, however, and 2003 he returned to musical theatre when he joined the Broadway cast of Chicago.

He went on to make his West End debut three years later in the musical Guys and Dolls.

Recent film roles include a cameo in Dirty Dancing sequel Havana Nights and a golf instructor in British comedy Keeping Mum.

Off screen, he is in the process of turning his timber farm in New Mexico into a wildlife reserve.

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