Don’t Put Swayze In A Corner

September 15, 2009

Patrick Swayze is dead. After nearly two years of battling with Pancreatic Cancer, he lost the fight on Monday at the age of 57. Pancreatic cancer is a particularly nasty strain of the disease. It sneaks up on you with non-specific symptoms that could be allied to any other disease, so that by the time the symptoms are bad enough for you to be tested, the damage has been done. If you are lucky, it will not have hit the other organs at the time of diagnosis giving you a chance of being one of the 5% who make it past five years. A very low survival rate, you have to agree. I’m not sure what stage my uncle was at when he was diagnosed a couple of years ago, but Swayze who was diagnosed at around the same time had stage four, which is very aggressive. My uncle died two months ago. Swayze is dead now. Hopefully Steve Jobs of Apple will be among the lucky 5%.

Patrick Swayze was not one of those film actors I followed avidly. I liked Ghost, which I’ve seen several times. The more I watch it, the more it becomes pure Parmesan, but I still like it. I’ve seen Roadhouse, a love story to Redneck bars and its occupants, featuring Swayze as the philosophical doorman who is not above a bit of violence in the execution of his job. He was so cool. He was also super cool as Bodhi in Point Break. I vaguely remember North and South and I have yet to see To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar and Donnie Darko but I will make an effort to find them now. The one film that defined him before Ghost put the seal on it was Dirty Dancing. I successfully swerved it for years as, for me, it was a chick flick that had to be avoided at all costs (like Ghost wasn’t?!). It must’ve been a moment of weakness that led me to watch it for the first time last year and I braced myself for the diabetic coma that this film was going to induce in me. I found to my surprise that it was actually quite good. Don’t think I’ll watch it again though. The man was also able to laugh at his screen persona, which in the world of prissy, insecure individuals is something to behold. Have a look at the Orange advert, or any Saturday Night Live clip he features in on Youtube.

He was not only a respected actor, he was a great dancer, had a long lasting marriage, which in that business must be a novelty and by the tributes I’ve read, he seemed to be a very decent man. His brush with alcoholism not withstanding, he even managed to stay below the gossip and scandal radar for most of his career. His insistence on working right until the end is admirable. I don’t expect there will be mass Dirty Dancing events on the same scale as Michael Jackson’s Thriller or Moon Walk, but I’m sure he’ll get a very good send off.

R.I.P Patrick Swayze. Even Cancer didn’t put you in a corner.


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