Patrick Swayze, grinder of hips and heartthrob extraordinaire, died Monday after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer.
Swayze was born in 1952 in Houston, the son of an engineer and a dance instructor who taught him until he left home to pursue ballet training in New York City. In his 20s he was quick to achieve middling fame playing roles on Broadway and television with names like Tiger Warsaw, Slam Webster, and Ace Johnson.
He became a force of borderline-comical sexuality and generated the star power responsible for instantly iconic scenes. He made us want to be amateur potters, ballroom dancers, street-tough cross dressers, and Civil War heroes.
For all the Swayzeness of Patrick, he was a genuinely talented entertainer, savvy and talented enough to ride the wave of youthful fame through his 30s and 40s. He even took some risky roles, portraying a pedophilic motivational speaker in Donnie Darko and a competitive drag queen in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.
Swayze was a cultural icon with both the chops to win critical acclaim and the magnetism to win People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1991.
Though he struggled with personal tragedies and several major injuries throughout the course of his life and career, he was consistent in his passions: he danced, rode horses, flew planes, and married his childhood sweetheart, who was still at his side 34 years later when died. Watching them interact on a recent tear-jerker Barbara Walters Special gives the impression that he never let anyone put his baby in a corner.
His good friend and costar Whoopi Goldberg, told US Weekly that Swayze will live on like his most famous character. “I believe in Ghost’s message,” she said, “so he’ll always be near.” This is a man who truly carried a watermelon.
To Patrick Swayze, Thanks for Everything! MARISA CALLEJA B’10.