15 Sep 2009

Film star Patrick Swayze dies

10:30 pm on 15 September 2009

American actor Patrick Swayze, who went from Broadway dancer to Hollywood star in box-office hits like Dirty Dancing, has died aged 57.

The actor, who had been battling pancreatic cancer for nearly two years, died on Monday at home with his family at his side, his publicist said.

He became a pop culture icon with his role as swaggering dance instructor Johnny Castle in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing. The film was made for a modest budget and was almost scrapped by its studio, but became a massive box-office hit.

Swayze was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of the disease, in January 2008. He said at the time that the cancer had already spread to his liver.

But the actor and former dancer vowed to fight the disease and had treatment with an experimental drug.

He then surprised Hollywood by filming a new detective series for television called The Beast in which he played the grueling lead role. The series was broadcast earlier this year.

Swayze co-wrote and performed the song She's Like the Wind for the movie's soundtrack, which went to No. 3 on the pop music charts. The film remained widely popular more than two decades later and recently spawned a stage musical version.

In 1990 Swayze starred as Demi Moore's deceased lover, Sam, in the romance Ghost, which was an even bigger hit than Dirty Dancing, with a world wide box office take of $US505 million.

Trained in dance

Swayze was born in Houston on 18 August 1952 and was introduced to performing early. His father was a champion rodeo cowboy and his mother owned a ballet studio.

The actor trained in dance from a young age and performed for New York City ballet companies before moving to Broadway.

His portrayal of Danny Zuko on Broadway in Grease caught the attention of Hollywood and he moved to the West Coast in the late 1970s, appearing in small TV and film parts.

His breakout roles came in 1983's boyhood drama The Outsiders and 1984's Red Dawn.

After Dirty Dancing and Ghost, Swayze suffered several career setbacks, including a battle with alcohol.

Attributing some of his problems with drinking to his sudden fame and the Hollywood lifestyle, he moved back to Texas with wife Lisa Niemi but worked in such films as The Green Dragon and Donnie Darko, both in 2001.