Happy Birthday Patrick Swayze: Celebrating the Late Hollywood Icon by Remembering His Best Movies

by Kati Michelle
(Photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images)

Like Alex Trebek, Patrick Swayze lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2009. The actor would have been celebrating his 69th birthday if he were still here with us. While the prognosis he received wasn’t a good one, he tried not to let it get to him. Throughout chemo treatments and experimental drug trials, Swayze managed to maintain a positive attitude.

When he talked to the New York Times in 2009, he had the following to say: “I’m proud of what I’m doing,” he said relating to the fact that he continued acting until he absolutely couldn’t anymore. He continued: “How do you nurture a positive attitude when all the statistics say you’re a dead man? You go to work.” With a good heart, a good head on his shoulders, and a gift for acting, Patrick Swayze paved a legacy for himself. We would like to honor his memory by taking a look back at some of his best work.

Fans might be surprised to find out that Patrick Swayze and Robert Redford share a birthday of August 18th. Here’s a tribute we posted for them:

Best of Patrick Swayze: ‘The Outsiders’ (1983)

“The Outsiders” movie came about from the S.E. Hinton novel of the same name and was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. With its star-studded cast, it’s surprising to find the film has a rating of only 7.1/10 stars on IMDb out of 79k reviews. The list of stars alongside Swayze goes on: Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell.

The plot follows rival gangs in Tulsa, Oklahoma– the Greasers and the Socs. The gangs come from different classes and socioeconomic backgrounds. Patrick Swayze plays an older brother trying to do everything he can to keep his family together. With teen heartthrobs and emotionally charged scenes, it’s not hard to wonder why the film and book have grown such a cult following. The film jump-started Swayze’s career early on as his second feature film.

Road House (1989) receives honorable mention for its kitsch, but The Outsiders (1983) has the emotional edge.

You Knew What Was Coming Next: ‘Dirty Dancing’ (1987)

There are too many iconic Dirty Dancing lines and scenes to recap here and you’ve probably already seen the bride who almost snapped her neck recreating the iconic partner dance scene. US Weekly put together a list of things you might not know about the film. For example, did you know that the film was the first film to sell a million VHS tapes? What about the fact that Swayze was actually a classically trained dancer in real life and often had to turn down his technique in certain parts of filming? It might also surprise some to find out Swayze reportedly turned down a $7million contract for a Dirty Dancing 2 in order to pursue other roles. He talked to the Chicago Tribune in 1989 saying ”I look for curve balls in my life” as the reasoning for the decision.

It is with a “stay gold” that we celebrate the life and work of Patrick Swayze.