The Life and Films of Patrick Swayze

Published 6 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 6:27 am,

sr swayze The Life and Films of Patrick Swayze

In life, there are often enemies that one cannot prepare for, see, or fight against, even after you understand you’re in a battle not just to win, but to live.

This week, we revel in the life and career of Patrick Swayze, a fallen on and off-screen soldier, who took an imposed 4-month death sentence, and turned it into almost 2 years of life that sealed the deal on a legacy full of integrity, memorable roles and scenes that will continue to push the envelope of television and cinema for many years to come.

Swayze started his acting career 30 years ago in a little film called Skatetown U.S.A. – tearing up the hardwood with white ball-bearinged wheels, a black leather outfit and a belt ready to smackdown each and every opponent who dared cross his path. His final career crescendo, the A&E TV series The Beast, showcased Swayze as a wayward FBI agent harnessing rage and righteousness to make the world a better place: the sweet irony is that both in real life, and on the small and silver screens, Patrick Swayze did just that.

We at Screen Rant are proud to take you on a journey of outstanding entertainment experiences, courtesy of a gone-too-soon actor that will be remembered for a long time. Please read on below as we remember the celluloid life (beyond Ghost and Dirty Dancing) of Patrick Wayne Swayze.



Ahh, the perfect zen of starting a listing of great Swayze performances with a film that includes the word, “uncommon.” This 1983 action/drama/thriller featured a very young, fit, determined marine named Kevin Scott, who tries valiantly to get a collected team of past-their-prime misfits into shape to rescue comrades left behind. The mission? WIN. Period. It’s one of Swayze’s initial smaller performances that becomes a piece of exquisite fabric as he joins an all-star cast, and it is not to be missed.



In 1984, The Cold War was ablaze. All sides were talking about the threat of invasion and mutually assured destruction and in my freshman year, high school was literally invaded by military paratroopers – in the movie Red Dawn. Swayze played Jed, the  eldest of two experienced outdoorsman brothers. He leads a  team of invasion survivors/saboteurs called  “WOLVERINES” who resist the collective invasion of  America. It’s truly some of the strongest acting in his career. The realization of knowing that you’re seeing your father for the last time – ever; The anguish of having to execute a previous best friend-turned traitor – but not being able to pull the trigger; The passion for explaining why people must die because they’ve chosen to invade your home, and the endearing final shot where a soldier realizes a larger brotherhood exists. They are probably the strongest memories I have of when I was a teenager and they live on in me. I only hope I too can convey their meaning in articles like this and more.



It’s not every man’s dream to use the word “smitten” inside an action hero’s book-turned-television series, but audiences were at least as smitten with Swayze’s portrayal as Orry, in the 1985-86 epic mini-series North and South. The confidence and achievement conveyed in this role of a man instantly “smitten” with a Juliet-like damsel in distress is an epic character for an actor that oozed honor. Swayze in period costume and long flowing locks in this series is something that will be remembered forever.



Does anyone think of a bar fight – ever – and not think of “Dalton” – Swayze’s alter-ego in 1989s Road House? Swayze’s penchant for being the lone man left to take on “the man” and his gang of goons is the true showcase of grace under pressure, letting loose at the perfect moment to levy justice, revenge and satisfaction for all movie-goers. The tearing of henchmen 13′s throat is of particularly satisfying note. Steven Segal should have been taking notes long ago on how to be a lone wolf amongst helpless lambs.

(Continue to pg. 2 for more great Patrick Swayze roles)



Zen has never been so kitsch, bank robbery never so smooth and Ex-Presidents never so bad. In 1991, Swayze, as a Surfer/Bank Robber named Bodhi, leads a band of benjamin-searching surfers into a collision course with an undercover federal agent (Keanu Reeves) who understands the allure of the surf, and the adrenaline of armed robbery all too well. It’s another of the hallmark roles for Swayze that is a must-see experience. The skydiving scenes and overall cinematography of this film are some of the best ever captured.



2002 heralded the arrival of a different kind of vehicle for Swayze in the form of Waking Up in Reno. This romantic comedy romp not only included monster trucks, Charlize Theron and Billy Bob Thornton, but also Natasha Richardson: wife of Liam Neeson who was also taken much too soon after a March 2009 skiing accident. Films like this one conveyed that Swayze had a very well-rounded skill set in front of the camera. Swayze said of Richardson: “It is such a great loss to this community to lose an actress and person such as Natasha. Gifts like her don’t come along very often. It’s a rare thing in this industry to have someone with so much talent, beauty, and dedication and yet is imbued with such humility.” Who’d have thought we too would be using words with very much the same tone to describe Swayze himself? It’s another off-the-beaten-path series of steps for Swayze that people will now perhaps take full notice of.



I had the personal pleasure of working with a gentleman named Paul Spatarro on the East Coast this year. His brother had also been diagnosed with (and died from) Pancreatic Cancer, which is where I initially learned not only about Swayze’s affliction, but also how deadly this disease is in general. Pancreatic Cancer has an astronomical lethality rate, because it’s often not diagnosed until it’s truly too late. The Beast was a crime/action vehicle created for Swayze at A&E. The network contacted me to offer up a series of promotional items and videos to help promote the show, and we gave them away based on feedback in a contest called “The Swayze GiftAways” Contest. While The Beast was a short series that was standard, Swayze-style satisfaction on cable television, it also became the final Hollywood sampling of Swayze’s skill set and work ethic. It’s a wonderfully strong show, made even more so by the knowledge that even while undergoing significant procedures in an attempt to slow the progression of his disease, and enduring 12-hour work days, Swayze finished out every single scene and in many cases completed the stunts choreographed and featured by his character, Barker, a vengeful, cunning FBI agent not just looking for, but ensuring that justice is found.


Patrick Swayze – as many have already said in the day or so since his death – was a true American original. A classic performer from the start, who knew the value of literally being a southern “iron first in a velvet glove.”

We will miss this man who, for all intents and purposes, was commonly uncommon in Hollywood circles. There was never a scandal featuring Swayze; He was married only once, to his long time teenage sweetheart Lisa Niemi; and he quite literally worked until he physically couldn’t anymore. I find the dubbing of his being “common” incredibly endearing.

Swayze once said, in character as “Sam Wheat” from Ghost, lamenting over a report about a downed airliner: “It’s amazing just like that >SNAP< black out”. Au contraire – Patrick Swayze’s performances will live on not only on in DVD, Blu-ray and feature film marathons everywhere, but in us – his family, friends and fans.

Thank you, Mr. Swayze, for your leading man contribution to Hollywood and to movie history.

We’ve only scratched the surface of Swayze-based excellence here in our homage. What other films have you seen Swayze in that should be collected into every one’s film library (Ghost and Dirty Dancing being obvious choices)? Let us know what you think in the discussion below.

Patrick Wayne Swayze, August 18, 1952 – September 14, 2009, R.I.P.

« 1 2View All»

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. He wasn’t the star of either of these, but I definitely enjoyed him in 11:14, and of course, Donnie Darko.

  2. good actor RIP

  3. One of the few actors in Hollywood who bucked the trend and has been married for 30 years to the same woman. RIP Patrick. I think I might have to watch Red Dawn tonight.

  4. Should have included City of Joy .

    One of his best films where people hardly recollect

  5. Geez, it really took his death for me to realize that I didn’t have Red Dawn in my collection. That’s a huge oversight, I’ve always loved that movie… I just ordered the collector’s edition, but it’ll probably be re-released in blu-ray soon enough since the new remake is coming out and also because of the loss of Mr. Swayze. All of these great actors are just dying left and right, so sad… RIP.

  6. red dawn is a classic, told my girlfriend to que it up because she never saw it.
    road house is one of my guilty pleasure movies

  7. Great Article Mike, as usual. I enjoyed the clips. Uncommon Valor is my favorite, no question!

  8. I liked Next of Kin too with Liam Neeson as well..I thought Swayze was awesome in that too!!

    Great article by the way!!

  9. I went to see “Red Dawn” with a bud during high school, (Russ).
    After the film he told me he was going to join the Air Force,,, I always remember witnessing that life changing event when Red Dawn comes up,,,
    The last time I saw him was at a McDonalds he told me he was shipping out the next day,,,

  10. I’m glad to see a commenter mention his best work and most underrated (and overlooked) film City Of Joy. Terrific film!

    Of course, everyone should have Dirty Dancing, Ghost and Point Break.
    But by all means The Outsiders is a must.

  11. When I first saw Red Dawn it must’ve been winter, because after the movie my friends and I ran home, raided our closet’s (mother’s included) in search of white “camo” clothes and grabbed our toy machines guns and proceeded to Wolverine our way through the snowy backyard woods. What a time!

    It’s unfortunate that Swayze went through that bad period in the mid-nineties when Hollywood turned their back on him. Most people forget that. He was blackballed, one minute the top leading man and then he was thrown out with the trash. Blasted Hollywood! He still tried to work, making the odd “B” movie, or straight to video. But he never got the Tarantino-comeback like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. Maybe Donnie Darko… but not to the extent he deserved.

    So… let’s remember who we put on high, and who we shove off the pedastel. Let’s not forget our former leading men, our Steve Guttenbergs and our Emelio Estevev’s. Hollywood is a damn fickle “Beast” Wolverines forever!

  12. Thanks for the tribute. After watching some of those clips, I’ll have to rent some of them. I’d forgotten about North and South!

    Of course, Road House & Dirty Dancing were my faves, especially the gratuitous butt shot of Swayze ;>.

  13. He had so many more films than the ones listed here. How can we forget Too Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar?

  14. I loved every movies I have ever seen with Patrick.

    My favorites consist of:
    North And South
    Forever LuLu
    Steel Dawn
    Red Dawn
    King Solomans Mines
    Black Dog
    Tall Tale: The Adventures Of Pecos Bill
    Donnie Darko
    Next Of Kin
    Dirty Dancing
    City Of Joy
    Three Wishes
    Waking Up In Reno
    Grandview USA
    Letters From a Killer
    Christmas In Wonderland
    Tiger Warsaw
    The Outsiders
    Uncommon Valor
    Green Dragon

    Ok well I guess I like all the movies I have seen with him in them! :D I can’t just pick a few he was good in all his movies! He will live on in my heart! RIP PATRICK SWAYZE

  15. Patrick was in 47 movies and tv series, I thought he was great in all of them!! He always gave everything 110%

  16. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE somebody help me! I am pretty sure I saw an older movie starring Patrick Swayze in a dancing part (with a famous black dancer) many years ago, and it took place in Russia, I am pretty sure. I think it was called ‘White Knights’, but I can’t find it listed ANYWHERE! Can somebody please verify my memory? I REALLY want to see it again, because it showed off his fantastic talent!!!!!

    • I write this tribute too late, but Patrick Swayze was my first crush, a crush which slowly metamorphosed into enduring love & respect for the enormous potential & talent the actor had. His incredible coupled with the tenderness of heart reflected on any role he played& he played ever role with such dedication. RIP my hero, u left a great chasm in this world & in our hearts that cannot be ever filled. I remember you with love always & ever.

  17. I’m thinking of a film with Patrick swayze where a boy asks him to pretend to be his father for a schools sports day as his own dad is a nerd,
    Does anyone know what it is called it is doing my nut in????????