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Posted at 9:40 PM ET, 09/14/2009

Patrick Swayze: A Timeline of Career Highs (and Lows)

By Liz Kelly

A dancer turned actor whose burly, yet non-threatening, good looks landed him in everything from mini-series TV to indie films, Patrick Swayze -- who died Monday at 57 after battling pancreatic cancer since January 2008 -- defied categorization. It's true: His name is synonymous with box office cheese and we love to tease, yet somehow Swayze's earnestness and obvious dedication to his craft made him one of the most bankable stars of the 1980s and '90s. And, yes, he totally got it.

Below, a look at the touchstones of Patrick Swayze's diverse career.

1983/"The Outsiders" -- Although Swayze had been knocking around in small parts for a few years, it was his casting by Francis Ford Coppola in this sweeping adaptation of S.E. Hinton's classic coming of age tale that first brought him to our attention.

1984/"Red Dawn" -- A year later, Swayze led the cast of this cold war era tale of teen resistance to a hypothetical Soviet invasion. "Wolverines!" became a slogan of defiance and the movie remains a crucial part of many young Republicans' DVD collection.

1985/"North and South" -- Swayze made the leap from teen movies to leading man status in an unlikely place -- a TV miniseries set during the Civil War.

1987/"Dirty Dancing" -- The movie that may well be Swayze's signature work and made one line, "Nobody puts Baby in the corner," a catchphrase for the ages. Swayze finally got a chance to showcase his dancing moves (he trained in classical ballet) and, surprisingly, scored a hit for singing one of the movie's songs, "She's Like the Wind."

1989/"Road House" -- Swayze followed up "Dirty Dancing" with this B-movie tale of a career bar bouncer with the tagline, "The dancing's over. Now it gets dirty." Much fun was had at this movie's expense earlier last fall here.

1990/"Ghost" -- Swayze totally reinvented his image when he co-starred with Demi Moore in this romantic tale of love's ability to transcend death. Despite the creepy Whoopi-Goldberg-possessed-by-Swayze-caressing-Demi scene, the movie was a smash hit -- earning Swayze his first Golden Globe nomination.

1990/"Saturday Night Live" -- Swazye makes a memorable appearance along with Chris Farley:

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1991/"Point Break" -- How do you follow up a tearjerker? With "100 percent pure adrenaline." This time, Swayze morphs into mystical surfer Bodhi, who finances his love of chasing waves around the world with a series of bank robberies. Until he's taken down by FBI agents Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey. Although Swayze was nominated for "Most Desirable Male" at the MTV Movie Awards, he lost to co-star Reeves.

1995/"To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" -- Swayze and co-star Wesley Snipes played (very muscular) drag queens in this road-trip comedy.

2001/"Donnie Darko" -- A quiet and controlled Swayze was a surprising, yet utterly fitting, pick as a motivational speaker with a taste for child porn in director Richard Kelly's beloved cult film.

2008/"The Beast" -- Swazye signs on to anchor this A&E series about an undercover FBI agent. The show is cancelled after one season.

Full Filmography
Swayze's Wikipedia Entry

By Liz Kelly  | September 14, 2009; 9:40 PM ET
Categories:  Celebrities  
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Next: Swayze Succumbs to Cancer; Kanye Apologizes Again


RIP Patrick Swayze.

I watched North and South solely because he was in it.

WhatI loved most was his ability to laugh at himself (while looking fantastic shirtless).

But, the WAPO Obit is NASTY. You think we snark. That things is just a hit piece. A mere collection of bad reviews of his movie. Nothing about the PERSON. The CNN story is much bettr.

Posted by: epjd | September 14, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

RIP Patrick Swayze. Prayers to his wife, family and friends. Good or bad movies he always came across as so "unhollywood" it was refreshing..and made people love him.

Posted by: Vienna8425 | September 14, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

ep, the NYT obit is more balanced:

My favorite line is at the end: He also expressed concern about the dangers of Hollywood superficiality. "One of the reasons I bought my ranch was because I didn’t want to hear the hype," he told The A.P. in 1985, referring to his horse ranch in the San Gabriel Mountains. He added, "Your horses don’t lie to you."

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | September 14, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: BABY_BLUES_6923 | September 15, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, what CAPS_LOCK_6923 said. Well, except for the parts about heaven, the wind, and forever...

Posted by: byoolin1 | September 15, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Tuesday love to the Swayze.

Posted by: mat00 | September 15, 2009 6:25 AM | Report abuse

You fought the good fight. RIP Patrick Swayze.
Peace to his family, friends, and fans.

Posted by: VaLGaL | September 15, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Very very sad. :(

But I'd like to add Keeping Mum on that list of movies. Not a very well known flic, but very funny.

Posted by: eet7e | September 15, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Sad day, he was a really likable guy who made movies that made you tear up a little or cheer a little. He, his life, his marriage and his attitude seemed more like the rest of humanity not hollywood...

First thing I though of was Jaybub too - for helping us remember to cheer for him and why we liked him (taking us off our usual snark trail)...

Posted by: LTL1 | September 15, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

The Post story is definitely nasty and very condescending. I am not usually sensitive to these kinds of things, but it just seemed especially insensitive and bent on accentuating his weaknesses. Normally I would say that it may be harsh, but true, but it appears to be pretty exaggerated. He was a much bigger star than the article would have you believe. Maybe they should have found a staff writer who didn't have some kind of grudge against Patrick Swayze.

Posted by: spret07 | September 15, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

To the family of Patrick Swayze:
Please accept my deepest sympathy in the depth of this tragedy.
He was a great talent in show business; he could do everything.
And he was a true Texas man:
Big, wide smile, strength of character, eyes on the stars but feet on the ground.
I've been his fan since he began to show up in movies many years ago.
He confronted this final crisis with great courage and good judgment.
His choices taught us all to reconsider what matters in life and where we place our values.
He lived an admirable life.
God bless Patrick and may God grant his family and friends comfort and peace.
Judy Allen, Beaumont, TX

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | September 15, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Roadhouse and Point Break are both classic action films. Especially PB.

What was he doing between 1991 and 2001 besides making that awful drag queen flick? Why did he stop working?

RIP Dalton.

Posted by: PhilliesPhan | September 15, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

R.I.P. Patrick. Condolences to the Swayze family. Gone too soon.

Posted by: hodie | September 15, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

That was a really snotty obit. I am really surprised at WaPo. I expect better from a paper of this caliber. I really hope not to see that writer covering a story that asks for some respect and decorum again.

Posted by: January11 | September 15, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Why pick the day that he died to write such a harsh review of his movie career? Even if it was an honest evaluation, what purpose did this serve? It just made the Post look harsh and completely lacking in civility.

So, he ultimately was no Brando and there were no Oscars on his mantle. Is the day he dies, the day you really need to remind his family, friends and the general public of this? The day of someone's death is the day you really stick to the Golden Rule, "if you can't say something nice, keep quiet".

Let me give you an example just in case you need one: "Mr. Swayze made a couple of good movies, he was a great dancer. (insert hunky photos here) He fought cancer bravely and he died way too young. Period."

Posted by: Merlin5 | September 15, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

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