RIP Patrick Swayze, 1952-2009


Bodhi, Johnny Castle, Sam Wheat – whatever you wish to call him, Patrick Swayze’s will be making leading ladies swoon no more. The actor passed away today after a long and largely publicized struggle with pancreatic cancer. Swayze died peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with his family by his side. He was 57.

Patrick Swayze was an actor who was never afraid to reinvent himself. He began his career by making women swoon in such films as The Outsiders and Dirty Dancing. He dared to shed his hunky screen persona by playing a child molester in Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko. Most recently he appeared on the A & E television show “The Beast,” which he filmed while suffering from the disease. He refused to take painkillers because he worried that it might take the edge off of his grizzled cop character.

I’ll admit that of the celebrity deaths that have occurred this year, Patrick Swayze may be the one I am most sad about. He was one of those actors who managed to turn a movie I would never normally enjoy into something surprisingly fun. He knew how to play to an audience. His main target group would be women, but his performances in films like Ghost or Dirty Dancing have a perfect blend of “chick flick” camp and manly truth. I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoyed Ghost quite a bit. Dirty Dancing was ok.

My favorite two performances of his are definitely Bodhi in Point Break and Jim Cunningham in Donnie Darko. In Point Break he manages to steal every scene from co-star Keanu Reeves (admittedly not a hard task). Despite the fact that his character is a criminal, he manages to come across as remarkably empathetic. Contrarily in his performance in Donnie Darko he creates one of the most despicable characters in recent movie history.

He always had a great sense of humor and was enjoyable to watch in interviews. One of his all-time best moments comes in the SNL skit with another celebrity who left us too soon, Chris Farley, where they are auditioning to be Chippendales dancers. His genuine belief that he and Chris Farley are equally good dancers is hilarious.

You will be missed, Bodhi.

[Source: The Associated Press]


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