The Demons & the Dance of Patrick Swayze

Saturday: Swayze: The Demons & the Dance; (Channel 5, 9pm)

Although it is almost 12 years since Patrick Swayze passed away, aged just 57, the public’s adoration for the actor and fascination with his life and career have clearly not faded.

Swayze’s life is regularly the subject of documentaries and articles, including the acclaimed 2019 films I Am Patrick Swayze and Patrick Swayze: Ghosts and Demons, while his movies are often replayed on TV and in cinemas.

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Tonight, Channel 5 are dedicating another evening to the Texas-born star, premiering Swayze: The Demons & the Dance, and giving fans another chance to see two of his biggest movie hits, as well as another documentary, The Last Days of Patrick Swayze.

When Dirty Dancing catapulted Patrick Swayze to fame in 1987, he became the sex symbol of his era. Yet behind the film star exterior was a man plagued by demons, scarred by regret and driven to the brink of self-destruction.

In The Demons & the Dance we explore Swayze’s private struggles and public successes of Patrick in the words of those who knew him best.

Patrick’s first girlfriend Nikki D’Amico and childhood friend, choreographer Rick Odums, chart his remarkable upbringing in Texas as the son of laidback cowboy father Jesse Wayne and his mother Patsy, the perfectionist director of the Houston Jazz Ballet Company.

We hear how he made it to the very top in the ballet world in New York, as a principal dancer with the Eliot Feld Ballet Company, before his career was cruelly destroyed by a knee injury.

Colleagues, including his first manager Kate Edwards and casting director Jane Jenkins chart his rapid rise in Hollywood, which began with his film debut in Skatetown, USA (1979), and also included a roles in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders, Red Dawn, Grandview, USA, and the 1985 miniseries North and South and its sequel.

However, it was the release of Dirty Dancing in 1987 that turned Swayze into one of Hollywood’s heartthrobs. Producer Linda Gottlieb and actor Lonny Price reveal the behind-the-scenes story of the classic film, including stories of how a feud between Patrick and co-star Jennifer Grey resulted in movie magic.

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The film also allowed Swayze to pursue a singing career. Inspired by his relationship with his wife Lisa, whom he had met when she was a 15-year-old student at his mother’s dance studio in the early 1970s, Swayze and co-writer Stacy Widelitz penned the song She’s Like the Wind.

Swayze then starred in two action features – Next of Kin and Road House, before winning the lead role in director Jerry Zucker’s romantic drama Ghost, which grossed over $200 million and earned Swayze a second Golden Globe nomination.

Here, Zucker tells how he was turned from a Swayze sceptic to a superfan after just one audition. Following that, Swayze partnered with Keanu Reeves in the action-adventure Point Break, before starring in City of Joy, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, Black Dog, Letters from a Killer, Forever Lulu, Wakin’ Up In Reno, Donnie Darko, 11:14, One Last Dance, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Jump!, Powder Blue and The Beast.

Although Swayze will always be remembered for his tender-hearted, tough-guy roles in blockbuster films, there was so much more to the Texas-born leading man.

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In this documentary, we hear about his fears of being typecast, as well as the devastating impact of his father’s early death. Also explored are Patrick’s string of personal and professional setbacks, and how he sought solace in alcohol, before ultimately finding peace in his 50s.

Finally, those closest to Patrick talk about his courageous battle with pancreatic cancer and his death, with family at his side, on September 14, 2009.

As dance instructor Johnny Castle, he once famously said: “the reason people treat me like I’m nothing is because I’m nothing.”

That statement couldn’t be any further from the truth when it comes to Swayze the man, whose life and legacy is still providing us with plenty of intrigue and entertainment.

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