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One year ago: Patrick Swayze

Swayze Patrick Swayze's career was filled with high points and big chances.

Swayze, who died a year ago of cancer at age 57, was best known for his starring roles in "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost." But many of his performances were unorthodox choices for such a well-known actor and dancer.

"I look for curveballs in my life," Swayze told the Chicago Tribune in 1989. He turned down a sequel to "Dirty Dancing," the 1987 film in which he played Johnny Castle, a dance instructor from the wrong side of the tracks.

Swayze, who was born in Houston, was trained as a dancer. His mother was a dance teacher who choreographed the 1980 film "Urban Cowboy."

In 1972, he moved to New York to dance but a recurrence of a knee injury from his high school football days ended his career. He turned to acting and landed the lead role in "Grease." His first film was "Skatetown, U.S.A." in 1979.

Swayze defended his roles in such cult movies as "Point Break" in 1991 and "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" in 1995.

He told the London Daily Express, "It wouldn't have been worth it if I had been stuck as the leading man or the dance guy."

Swayze's obituary appeared in The Times on Sept. 15, 2009.

--Keith Thursby

Photo: Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in "Dirty Dancing." Credit: Vestron Pictures

 
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