The son of dancer and choreographer Patsy Swayze, Patrick was a professional dancer who trained with prestigious dance troupes, and was the principal dancer in the Eliot Feld company.
In high school, Swayze was a talented football player and gymnast, and won an athletic scholarship to college, however, recurring knee problems from an old football injury turned Swayze toward acting. The actor got his first big break, playing Danny, in the Broadway version of 'Grease'. His stage success led him to Hollywood, where he made his film debut in 'Skatetown, USA', in 1979.
Swayze went on to play supporting roles on various TV series and in made-for-television movies, all of which usually cast him as a teenage juvenile delinquent.
In 1983, Swayze joined fellow fledgling 1980s stars, in Francis Ford Coppola's 'The Outsiders', but did not have his true breakthrough until he starred opposite Jennifer Grey in the smash hit, 'Dirty Dancing', in 1987. The film rewarded him with bona fide heartthrob status and established him as one of the late 1980s new screen icons.
Swayze's next few films were of uneven quality, for example 'Roadhouse', but in 1990, the actor again struck gold, starring opposite Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg in 'Ghost', a romantic drama that proved to be the highest-grossing film of the year. He found more success the following year with a starring role as a surfing guru/bank robber, opposite G-man Keanu Reeves, in 'Point Break', but Swayze's subsequent film appearances throughout the 1990s were sporadic.
In 1996, Swayze was seriously injured when he fell from a horse and hit a tree while filming 'Letters From a Killer'. Both of his legs were broken, and he suffered four detached tendons in his shoulder. Filming was suspended for two months, but the film finally aired in 1999. Swayze recovered from his injuries but had trouble finding work until 2000, when he co-starred in 'Waking Up in Reno' with Billy Bob Thornton and Charlize Theron, and 'Forever Lulu' with Melanie Griffith.
He made the news again in 2000 when flying with his dogs in his twin-engine aeroplane. The aircraft developed a problem over northern Arizona, and had to land on a dirt road in a housing complex, striking a light pole which he had not seen from the air. Swayze was unhurt, he locked up the cockpit and left the aeroplane parked in the area. According to the police report, witnesses said that Swayze appeared to be extremely intoxicated and asked for help in removing evidence from the crash site. It was later determined that the alcohol in question was not in the cabin but stored in external storage compartments inaccessible in flight and the alleged 'intoxication' was due to the effects of hypoxia during the emergency landing.
In 2001 he appeared in the cult movie 'Donnie Darko' and in 2004 played Allan Quatermain in 'King Solomon's Mines'; he also had a cameo appearance in the 'Dirty Dancing' sequel, 'Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights', where he played a dance instructor.
In July 2006, he made his London stage debut in the musical 'Guys and Dolls' as Nathan Detroit. In early 2008, Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent chemotherapy and other treatments at the Stanford University Medical Centre in California. However, his doctor dismissed reports that the 'Dirty Dancing' star had only five weeks to live.
George Fisher said in a statement, "Patrick has a very limited amount of disease and he appears to be responding well to treatment thus far. All of the reports stating the timeframe of his prognosis and his physical side effects are absolutely untrue."
Sadly, on 14 September 2009 Patrick Swayze lost his battle against cancer, passing away in the home he had shared with his family in Los Angeles.