Patrick Swayze has had an amazing career with several key highlights as noted below:
SKATETOWN USA – This was Swayze’s first theatrical film back in 1979. He played a roller skating thug named Ace. Swayze had the looks and the talent, and he received rave reviews. The movie itself was a stinker, but Hollywood was ready to adopt Swayze. It was the man himself, though, who decided he wasn’t ready for it. It scared him, in fact, and he backed away to study his craft more.
MASH – “BLOOD BROTHERS” – Swayze’s manager was ready to bail on him if he didn’t finally take a job offered to him, so Swayze chose this show, and he received critical acclaim for his performance as a soldier dying of leukemia.
THE OUTSIDERS – The year was 1983 and Francis Ford Coppola brought this popular high school book by S. E. Hinton to the screen. He assembled an incredible cast, all of whom became stars to some degree. Swayze was the oldest Curtis brother and the leader of the pack in this movie.
NORTH AND SOUTH – Swayze *is* Orry Main, the character he played in this 1985 mini-series and its sequel, North and South Book 2. This movie blew his career out of the water and sent him sailing. He thought he’d really hit the big time in this tale about the Civil War. To this day, this is my sentimental favorite role of Swayze’s.
DIRTY DANCING – North and South blew his career out of the water, but Dirty Dancing in 1987 sent it out of this world. This iconic movie is still at the top of most lists as a feel good dancing movie. Swayze says the moves were ones he could do in his sleep, but even so, his portrayal of Johnny Castle will always be remembered.
GHOST – In 1990, Swayze played the romantic lead opposite Demi Moore and left girls swooning and in tears. Again, he was given a lot of acclaim for this mega-hit performance. It would be his last of this type though, as the thespian prefers not to get stuck in a box and to do all different types of roles.
CITY OF JOY – This movie changed Swayze’s life personally. He was so touched by what he experienced while filming this movie in India that he couldn’t work for a year after returning. It’s a part of his soul, and I believe it’s one of his best portrayals of all. Unfortunately, while the critics liked much of it, the fans just didn’t flock to the theaters to see it. It suffered from some poor editing and bad decisions on the final cut, but Swayze’s Dr. Max Lowe is complex and a challenging character.
TO WONG FOO THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, JULIE NEWMAR – No one was more shocked than I was when I learned that Swayze was going to appear in a dress in this 1995 film. I calmed down once I understood that this was his tribute to his many friends of all persuasions. It actually turned out to be a wonderful part. Swayze plays Miss Vida Boheme, and she is lovely. Swayze really pulled this role off with great success. It’s one of my favorites.
GREEN DRAGON – This was one of the first powerful roles that Swayze took when he turned to independent films. Having more money than he knows what to do with and not wanting to just be another romantic actor in a stereotypical role, Swayze made a conscious decision to take on all kinds of roles in independent movies. Many of these never hit the theaters and a lot of them go straight to DVD and don’t get a lot of publicity, but they contain some fine acting. This role is one of those and marks a new phase of Swayze’s career.
ONE LAST DANCE – It took Swayze and his wife, Lisa Niemi, almost twenty years to get this movie made. It was based on a stage production they did around the time of Dirty Dancing that was called Without a Word. It’s a loose adaptation of their own love story with each other and with classical dance. It’s a powerful, moving motion picture, and it cost them a lot emotionally to finally get it to the screen. It had him pacing the theater, nervously awaiting fan reaction, when the movie premiered in Houston back in 2003. He didn’t need to be nervous. I know because I was there, and I, and everyone else who attended, was blown away. One Last Dance is beyond words: that’s how good this movie is.
THE BEAST – In 2009, Swayze’s second TV series began to air on A&E TV. Many thought it couldn’t be done because it was filmed even as Swayze battled pancreatic cancer. He got it done, though, and he’s earned masterful reviews from critics everywhere. The series had some slow episodes, but the last several were among the best. Hopes are high that Swayze will be well enough to begin work on a second season this summer.
This list could be much longer, but the above are the main turning points of Patrick Swayze’s long and joyful career. His fans hope more can be added to the list in the future as he is not only a tremendously talented actor, but he’s a very nice man, full of compassion, caring, and soul.