R.I.P. Patrick Swayze: 'It's not tragic to die doing what you love'
"Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months," said a statement released Monday evening by his publicist, Annett Wolf. Swayze died in Los Angeles, according to the Associated Press.
Like Michael Jackson and John Hughes, who both passed away earlier this summer, Swayze was an '80s god, appearing in 10 big-screen movies as well as starring in the TV mini-series North and South. His appeal transcended the decade, and in the '90s he would win praise for roles in Ghost, Point Break, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything... Julie Newmar and Donnie Darko.
Some of the memories that come to mind tonight...
STAY GOLD: His first big-screen role was a biggie -- playing Darrel Curtis in 1983's The Outsiders. He shared the screen with a bunch of actors who would go on to be huge in the '80s including Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez and C. Thomas Howell, with whom he'd co-star again with in Red Dawn and Grandview USA. "I have always had a special place in my heart for Patrick," Howell said Monday." 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."
KING OF THE GUILTY PLEASURE: Swayze's films may not have become as critically acclaimed as those from his '80s peers, but to fans of the decade, flicks like Youngblood, Red Dawn and Road House would become treasured guilty pleasures. So often in of his roles, he found a comfortable and fitting niche: playing the tough guy with the soft heart.
FINALLY A LEADING MAN: In 1987, Swayze found a breakout role in Dirty Dancing. The unexpected success of the movie catapulted him to instant fame, something he wasn't necessarily expecting but wasn't unprepared for. "It's been an insane schedule, and also, the racehorses are going inside my head," Swayze told an interviewer back in 1988. "But I have a well of energy that's never run dry. People say, 'You'll burn out.' I say, 'Really? Watch me.' "
BUT ALWAYS READY FOR A LAUGH: Few people will ever forget Swayze and Chris Farley, lampooning their respective images during a Chippendales skit on Saturday Night Live in 1990. Five years later, Swayze set aside his "sexiest man alive" label and played a cross-dresser in To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.
STOIC TO THE END: The tabloid media seized on Swayze's cancer diagnosis in March 2008, pronouncing him all but dead within a month. Swayze brushed them off casually, while admitting he knew the odds were stacked against him. "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."
TOP 5 FAVORITE PATRICK SWAYZE MOVIES - ALL TIME:
5. YOUNGBLOOD (1986): "Thank God there is a sport for middle-sized white boys."
4. GHOST (1990): "The love inside, you take it with you."
3. TO WONG FOO, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, JULIE NEWMAR (1995): "Internal combustion, the ultimate accessory."
2. RED DAWN (1984): "It's kind of strange, isn't it? How the mountains pay us no attention at all. You laugh or you cry... The wind just keeps on blowing."
1. POINT BREAK (1991): "It's not tragic to die doing what you love."