R.I.P. Patrick Swayze

    Patrick Swayze dies of cancer at 57

    Patrick Swayze, whose good looks and sympathetic performances in films such as "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost" made him a romantic idol to millions, died Monday. He was 57.

    Swayze died of pancreatic cancer, his publicist, Annett Wolf, told CNN.

    Swayze's doctor, Dr. George Fisher, revealed in early March 2008 that Swayze was suffering from the disease.

    Most recently, Swayze starred in A&E Network's "The Beast," which debuted in January. He agreed to take the starring role of an undercover FBI agent before his diagnosis. "The Beast" was canceled in June because of Swayze's illness, after doctors told him the cancer had spread to his liver.

    Swayze was mostly known for a handful of supporting roles when he broke through with his performance as dance instructor Johnny Castle in 1987's "Dirty Dancing." Co-star Jennifer Grey, who played his young lover, Baby Houseman, in the film, described Swayze as "gorgeous and strong."

    Three years after "Dirty Dancing," he became an even bigger star with "Ghost," in which he played an investment banker who dies and learns to tap into his unspoken feelings for his partner (Demi Moore). The film won Whoopi Goldberg an Oscar and helped make him People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1991.

    Patrick Wayne Swayze was born on August 18, 1952, in Houston, Texas. His father was an engineering draftsman; his mother was a ballet dancer and later the director of the Houston Ballet Dance Company.

    Swayze, known as a down-to-earth, nice-guy actor, was determined not to follow a predictable career path.

    He followed "Dirty Dancing" with "Road House" (1989) in which he played a manager at a rough-and-tumble bar (the film was particularly popular on late-night cable). He succeeded "Ghost" with "Point Break" (1991), about a group of thieves; "City of Joy" (1992), in which he played a doctor in a poverty-stricken Indian village; and "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" (1995), in which he starred as a drag queen.

    Swayze re-established his knack for picking sleepers with "Donnie Darko" (2001), the dark film about a troubled student that became a sensation on video. Swayze played a creepy motivational speaker and won raves for his performance.

    Swayze's more recent films included a TV version of "King Solomon's Mines" and 2007's "Christmas in Wonderland."

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