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R.I.P. Patrick Swayze: 'It's not tragic to die doing what you love'

Another '80s icon has fallen. Patrick Swayze died Monday after a long and public battle with pancreatic cancer. He was just 57.

"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."


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."

Posted by Steve Spears at 09:49:20 PM on September 14, 2009

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Poll: What do you think of Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA' album?

This week on Stuck in the '80s, we're going to tackle Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA album as part of our continuing series on iconic '80s albums.

But here are a couple devil's advocate questions: Was Born in the USA really that iconic? What it even Bruce's best album of the decade? Or do you think Bruce is a phenomenon of the East Coast and largely inconsequential to your life?

And did we commit heresy by even suggesting the world doesn't revolve about the Boss?

We have two special polls for you to answer before we cover this week's topic. Choose wisely. We'll reveal our own thoughts on the podcast and reveal how blog readers voted. Feel free to leave comments too.

Born in the USA

Twenty-five years later, what's your opinion of Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA' album?

It's a masterpiece of rock music

It's good, but not Bruce's best work of the '80s

It's overrated

I'm not a Bruce fan at all

Favorite song from Born in the USA

What's your favorite song from 'Born in the USA'

Born in the U.S.A.

Cover Me

Darlington County

Working on the Highway

Downbound Train

I'm on Fire

No Surrender

Bobby Jean

I'm Goin' Down

Glory Days

Dancing in the Dark

My Hometown

Posted by Steve Spears at 11:33:04 AM on September 14, 2009

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Two very different reunions: Bee Gees and Public Image Ltd.

We can pretty much cover all the bases with this news: Both the Bee Gees and Public Image Ltd. are talking about reuniting. (Pretty sure one reunion didn't spark the other.)

Brothers Robin and Barry Gibb, the two surviving members of the Bee Gees. have told the London press that they will re-form for a series of concerts. The group hasn't performed since brother Maurice died in 2003. "The two of us are getting back together again," Robin Gibb announced on BBC Radio, according to a report in the Guardian ( "[Maurice was] not just a brother but a comrade in arms really ... It's an emotional thing when you lose someone that close."

Meanwhile, John Lydon -- not Johnny Rotten, remember -- has decided to breathe new life into his beloved Public Image Ltd. band after a 17-year hiatus. "When I finally cease working, then you can make a judgment on what PiL is or isn't," Lydon told the Guardian ( "For me, it's an unfinished work which is set to continue for some time."

Public Image Ltd.'s new lineup will include two members from the late '80s -- guitarist Lu Edmonds and drummer Bruce Smith. "We'll see where we can go," Lydon told the Guardian. "Some things may be quite similar. Some may not."

[AP photos]

Posted by Steve Spears at 10:27:21 AM on September 14, 2009

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'Maurice' lands in top 10 list of gay films

How gay were the '80s? Not very, if you follow's new list ( of the Top 50 Gay Movies of All Time. Just five movies from our decade made their list.

In all fairness, the list was decided by a reader poll, not a panel of film critics. Still, what does it say when only five flicks from the '80s make the list of 50? (And no Can't Stop the Music? For shame!)

By the way No. 1 on the list was 2005's Brokeback Mountain. Here's a list of the movies that made's list, and their ranking among the top 50. Click here ( for the full list.


7. MAURICE (1987): James Wilby, Hugh Grant. "I'm an unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde sort."

13. TORCH SONG TRILOGY (1988): Anne Bancroft, Matthew Broderick. "In order to be a real dame you've got to kneel before a queen!"

26. MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE (1985): Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth. "Ain't nothing I can say to make it up to you. There's only things I can do to show you... That I am with you."

28. PARTING GLANCES (1986): Richard Ganoung, John Bolger, Steve Buscemi. "I like to chase. I'm a wolf in twinkie clothing."

39. MAKING LOVE (1982): Michael Ontkean, Kate Jackson, Harry Hamlin. "Crepe paper is a bitch to tear."

Posted by Steve Spears at 09:57:22 AM on September 14, 2009