8 Surprising Facts About Patrick Swayze

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Between the recent 30th anniversary of Road House and a new Paramount Network documentary, I Am Patrick Swayze, the late actor—born Patrick Wayne Swayze on August 18, 1952—has been the subject of renewed interest. For die-hard Swayze fans, however, the versatile performer has never gone out of sight. For more on the Houston native, check out some facts on Swayze’s upbringing, his detour into carpentry, and why he wasn’t the first choice for 1990’s Ghost.

1. Patrick Swayze was part of a Disney ice show.

While Swayze garnered acclaim for his dramatic works in films like 1983’s The Outsiders and 1987's Dirty Dancing, among others, he was equally adept at roles requiring a high degree of physicality. His agility stemmed from an early love of dance. Growing up in Houston, Swayze’s mother, Patsy, was the director of the Houston Jazz Ballet Company, which provided her son with an early portal of entry to the art form: At eight months old, Swayze would sit in his playpen and dance in time to the music while his mother taught class. Swayze went on to take ballet, which earned him the occasional taunts by classmates but also helped him when he branched out into football and gymnastics. (He also met his future wife, Lisa Niemi, at his mother’s class. The two married in 1975.) Fresh out of college, Swayze toured for one year with the Disney on Parade ice show as Prince Charming. At 19, he moved to New York to pursue a stage career. After his dance aspirations were derailed following a knee injury, he began to focus on acting.

2. Patrick Swayze took over the lead role in Grease from John Travolta.

MJ Kim, Getty Images

Following complications with his knee, Swayze sought out a lower-impact role. He auditioned for and won the part of Danny Zuko in Broadway’s Grease, which had previously been played by John Travolta. The part paid dividends, and not just in exposure. Swayze invested part of his salary from the show into acting classes for both himself and Lisa at Warren Robertson’s Theater Workshop in New York, where Robert De Niro and James Earl Jones had also studied.

3. Patrick Swayze once owned a carpentry business.

At the time of his feature film debut in 1979’s campy roller rink melodrama Skatetown USA, Swayze feared his career could take a turn into teen idol territory. Rather than accept a multi-film contract where he would have little control over the parts offered, he and Lisa decided to open a carpentry business, Nepotism, Inc. (It employed brothers from both of their families, hence the name.) Swayze knew little about carpentry but studied books on the subject. The business was successful, with jobs ranging from renovating the kitchen of actress Jaclyn Smith to an entire home in Coldwater Canyon. The work kept him busy between acting auditions. With the income, Swayze could also be more selective about the movies he appeared in. After a string of appearances on television, including a TV movie titled The Comeback Kid with John Ritter and an episode of M*A*S*H, Swayze earned his second-ever film role in 1983’s The Outsiders, an adaptation of the S.E. Hinton young adult novel.

4. Patrick Swayze didn’t write “She’s Like the Wind” for Dirty Dancing.

One of the bigger hits to come out of the 1987 Catskills dance drama Dirty Dancing was “She’s Like the Wind,” a song on the film’s soundtrack that Swayze sang and co-wrote. But he actually didn’t compose it for that film. Swayze originally co-wrote it for 1984’s Grandview, USA, a demolition derby comedy featuring Swayze and C. Thomas Howell. When that production passed on using it, Swayze was free to resurrect it for Dirty Dancing. Due to the film’s low budget and lack of funds for music licensing, Swayze and co-writer Stacy Widelitz were able to retain 100 percent of the publishing rights—a lucrative arrangement after the song became a hit.

5. Dirty Dancing almost landed Swayze his own fragrance.

With Dirty Dancing, Swayze became a recognized movie star. That success, he told People in 1988, led to a series of offers that he found bewildering. “There are people who want me to do a cologne,” he said. “They want to call it Patrick. I was offered a fortune to make exercise videos. Posters, all kinds of stuff—something like $10 million worth. It’s insanity. I’m not going to do any of it.” Swayze instead chose to do 1989’s bar bouncer epic Road House, which performed only modestly at the box office but has since become a cult classic.

6. Patrick Swayze wasn’t the first choice for Ghost.

A perennial favorite among Swayze fans, 1990’s Ghost features the actor as Sam Wheat, a murdered man who returns as a spirit to communicate with his widow (Demi Moore). In 1990, director Jerry Zucker told People that Swayze was not his first choice for Wheat, due to a pair of knuckle-dusting action movies the actor had made in 1989: Road House and Next of Kin. That changed once Swayze read a key scene from the script in Zucker’s office. “We all had tears in our eyes, right there in the office—and we knew how it ends,” Zucker said. “I saw a side of Patrick that I never knew existed.” Ghost became Swayze’s biggest hit by far, grossing nearly $218 million.

7. It was surfing, not skydiving, that made Point Break so dangerous for Patrick Swayze.

For 1991’s Point Break, Swayze portrayed Bodhi, a Zen master of a bank robber with a taste for adrenaline. The actor reportedly went on an estimated 50 jumps to prepare for the film, though the insurance company eventually asked him to stop. This was something Swayze found puzzling, as he considered surfing the far more dangerous activity of the two. “The funny thing was, it was a joke for the insurance company to give me such a battle about the skydiving, when, statistically, skydiving has become one of the safest sports around,” Swayze told the Morning Call in 1991. “It’s safer than driving your car to work ... they didn’t say one word about this surfing.” Swayze said he slammed into coral reefs and was held under water, making it substantially more of a threat than anything else.

8. The I Am Patrick Swayze documentary set a ratings record.

Swayze passed away 10 years ago, on September 14, 2009, at age 57 from pancreatic cancer. His life and work were recently celebrated in the Paramount Network documentary I Am Patrick Swayze. The film, which features comments from Lisa Swayze, Demi Moore, Sam Elliott, and several of his friends and co-stars, premiered August 18, 2019, and earned a total of 2 million viewers, making it the most-watched cable personality documentary of the year.

8 Great Gifts for People Who Work From Home

World Market/Amazon
World Market/Amazon

A growing share of Americans work from home, and while that might seem blissful to some, it's not always easy to live, eat, and work in the same space. So, if you have co-workers and friends who are living the WFH lifestyle, here are some products that will make their life away from their cubicle a little easier.

1. Folding Book Stand; $7

Hatisan / Amazon

Useful for anyone who works with books or documents, this thick wire frame is strong enough for heavier textbooks or tablets. Best of all, it folds down flat, so they can slip it into their backpack or laptop case and take it out at the library or wherever they need it. The stand does double-duty in the kitchen as a cookbook holder, too.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Duraflame Electric Fireplace; $179

Duraflame / Amazon

Nothing says cozy like a fireplace, but not everyone is so blessed—or has the energy to keep a fire going during the work day. This Duraflame electric fireplace can help keep a workspace warm by providing up to 1000 square feet of comfortable heat, and has adjustable brightness and speed settings. They can even operate it without heat if they just crave the ambiance of an old-school gentleman's study (leather-top desk and shelves full of arcane books cost extra).

Buy It: Amazon

3. World Explorer Coffee Sampler; $32

UncommonGoods

Making sure they've got enough coffee to match their workload is a must, and if they're willing to experiment with their java a bit, the World Explorer’s Coffee Sampler allows them to make up to 32 cups using beans from all over the world. Inside the box are four bags with four different flavor profiles, like balanced, a light-medium roast with fruity notes; bold, a medium-dark roast with notes of cocoa; classic, which has notes of nuts; and fruity, coming in with notes of floral.

Buy it: UncommonGoods

4. Lavender and Lemon Beeswax Candle; $20

Amazon

People who work at home all day, especially in a smaller space, often struggle to "turn off" at the end of the day. One way to unwind and signal that work is done is to light a candle. Burning beeswax candles helps clean the air, and essential oils are a better health bet than artificial fragrances. Lavender is especially relaxing. (Just use caution around essential-oil-scented products and pets.)

Buy It: Amazon

5. HÄNS Swipe-Clean; $15

HÄNS / Amazon

If they're carting their laptop and phone from the coffee shop to meetings to the co-working space, the gadgets are going to get gross—fast. HÄNS Swipe is a dual-sided device that cleans on one side and polishes on the other, and it's a great solution for keeping germs at bay. It's also nicely portable, since there's nothing to spill. Plus, it's refillable, and the polishing cloth is washable and re-wrappable, making it a much more sustainable solution than individually wrapped wipes.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Laptop Side Table; $100

World Market

Sometimes they don't want to be stuck at a desk all day long. This industrial-chic side table can act as a laptop table, too, with room for a computer, coffee, notes, and more. It also works as a TV table—not that they would ever watch TV during work hours.

Buy It: World Market

7. Moleskine Classic Notebook; $17

Moleskin / Amazon

Plenty of people who work from home (well, plenty of people in general) find paper journals and planners essential, whether they're used for bullet journaling, time-blocking, or just writing good old-fashioned to-do lists. However they organize their lives, there's a journal out there that's perfect, but for starters it's hard to top a good Moleskin. These are available dotted (the bullet journal fave), plain, ruled, or squared, and in a variety of colors. (They can find other supply ideas for bullet journaling here.)

Buy It: Amazon

8. Nexstand Laptop Stand; $39

Nexstand / Amazon

For the person who works from home and is on the taller side, this portable laptop stand is a back-saver. It folds down flat so it can be tossed into the bag and taken to the coffee shop or co-working spot, where it often generates an admiring comment or three. It works best alongside a portable external keyboard and mouse.

Buy It: Amazon

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Get Playstation Plus and 12 Other Subscriptions for 80 Percent Off With This Entertainment Bundle

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Photo by EVG Culture from Pexels

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If you're looking to buy a gift for yourself or a loved one who has a wide variety of interests, this All-In-One Entertainment Bundle has all the streaming, language learning, exercise, and even group activity apps a person needs to get them through those cold winter months. Right now, the entire bundle is priced at just $200, which is 80 percent off the typical total. Here's a rundown of just five of the services you'll receive.

1. PlayStation Plus // One-Year Subscription

With a Playstation Plus subscription, you'll have access to an enormous online community of gamers to play against in classics like Star Wars: Battlefront II and the Call of Duty series on the PlayStation 4 (and PlayStation 5 when it launches). Subscribers are also given two free games per month and can participate in exclusive sales and other discounts on the PlayStation Store.

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If you’ve found yourself marveling at the History Channel and its hours of historical content, you’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg. This one-year subscription to History Hit TV will take you back in time through Ancient Greece and Egypt, the Middle Ages, and into the modern day. These stories are told through hundreds of history documentaries, interviews, and films, and with a subscription, you’ll even score an entire library of podcasts.

3. Yogadownload Unlimited Plan // One-Year Subscription

Bring some much-needed change to your fitness routine with this 4.9-star-rated yoga app. It comes with access to a library of over 1700 top-rated yoga and fitness classes that you can complete anytime from home.

4. Memrise Language Learning // Lifetime Subscription

This lifetime subscription to Memrise, CNET's pick for one of the best language apps of 2020, offers tutorials in 22 languages, featuring short video clips from 30,000 native speakers. Memrise distinguishes itself from other language learning apps with a unique approach that mimics the way you’d learn a language from another human, so it still has the personal feel of an in-person class.

5. Kast TV Premium // One-Year Subscription

Kast might be your only ticket to connecting with your group of buddies from college or an annual Friendsgiving this year. The video-sharing app allows you to watch TV or play games together with others, all from your very own living rooms through simultaneous desktop and webcam streaming. Hold a movie night, game night, or virtual house party to make the holidays feel special during this unique year.

Prices subject to change.