Thursday, September 17, 2009

Patrick Swayze: The Final Fred Astaire



I dedicate this article to my sister, Emily Rubin, who wanted to see Patrick Swayze return to the top of Hollywood. True fans are those who stand by stars during the difficult times.

Why am I comparing the late Patrick Swayze to the late Fred Astaire?

How many actors today are truly known for their skills as trained dancers? I cannot think of one. Patrick Swayze was a gifted dancer who became a talented actor. In addition, he could also sing. I’m comparing him to Fred Astaire because there is a period of time when being a great dancer was important if you wanted to make it in Hollywood. If you look at films in the 1950s and 1960s, many of the top films were musicals. In recent years, a few musicals made it to the big screen, but the days in which we had actors who happened to be great dancers has died. The final one was Patrick Swayze.

Many people would not have known much about Patrick Swayze’s ability to dance if it was not for his most popular film, Dirty Dancing. For those who have not seen Dirty Dancing, it is the closest thing to a dancing musical that is realistic. The actors are dancing to different songs throughout the film, but the dancing does not seem random and crazy like in a musical, where someone will just start dancing and singing down the block. In Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze plays a dance instructor teaching Jennifer Grey how to dance. So in a non-insane world, the characters have an excuse to dance throughout the film.

In Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze also sung and co-wrote the song “She’s Like The Wind”. His voice was very beautiful. The film did to Patrick Swayze’s career what Rocky did for Sylvester Stallone. After Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze was in a number of films. Action films like Roadhouse. Romance films like Ghost. Now that he passed away, it will feel different if I ever watch the film Ghost again.

It’s also sad for me to think of his famous skit on Saturday Night Live in which he is competing with Chris Farley for the last position at Chippendales. It is sad for me to think that both of them have now passed away.

He was very hilarious playing a drag queen in To Wong Fu: Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar. Seeing him play so many action parts made it funny to see him pretending to be a woman.

But sadly, his career faded after 1995. As someone who examines the entertainment industry, I have to say this….. His biggest mistake was not making a sequel to Dirty Dancing.

In 2004, he made a cameo in the prequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. The truth is that the film Dirty Dancing was so popular that a well-made sequel would have been a blockbuster. If the film was to be made, it would have to center around his character. Jennifer Grey sadly had such a major nose job that she looks unrecognizable. She would have looked too different to be in a sequel.

I wish I could ask the creators of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights….. What were you thinking? Why didn’t you just make a film around Patrick Swayze? Now it is too late for them to do so.

But Patrick Swayze’s life was not woulda-shoulda-coulda. He had a very successful career. I think what also stands out about him as a person is that he was married to his wife since 1975. Fame did not get in the way of his marriage. This is rare in Hollywood and he deserves recognition for that. Patrick Swayze succeeded in Hollywood and in his marriage. A lot of celebrities could have learned from the good example that he set.

Who is the next Patrick Swayze? I don’t think that we are going to have one. The days of great dancers becoming great actors is over. Now Hollywood is filled with young people who pursue acting for the sake of acting (or fame). It is not likely that we will find someone who will spend years perfecting the ability to dance….. who then succeeds in Hollywood. Patrick Swayze is the last of his breed of actors.

1 Comments:

Blogger Admin said...

I really admire Jennifer Grey's tribute to Patrick Swayze. She's doing Dancing with the Stars for him, class.

9:03 PM  

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