Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patrick Swayze (1952-2009)

Much in the case of Michael Jackson, the death of Patrick Swayze effects most people, whether or not they were fans of his work. It may seem strange to compare the death of an actor with such a limited time in the spotlight to the death of a man who is generally referred to as the King of Pop, but many should remember just how big Swayze was at his peak. Breaking through with films like Red Dawn and Youngblood, his major breakthrough came in 1987 with Dirty Dancing, which was not only a gargantuan hit, but also a remarkable showcase of a performer whose physicality was unmatched. His supposedly sexual gyrations and dance moves created a flurry of young girls to swoon, but it was only the beginning of a string of hit films.

He was the lead in the notorious guilty pleasure Road House in 1989, but his biggest hit would come one year later in Ghost where he played a murdered man trying to connect to his former lover, and extract revenge on his murderer using Whoopi Goldberg as a medium. Even writing the facets of the plot seems outlandish, but that unlikely Best Picture nominee became the staple of Swayze's career, and holds what is usually considered to be his greatest performance. Throughout the rest of the 90's, he continued working, finding varying success with such films as Point Break, Father Hood, and the campy draq queen cult classic Too Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, and though he never quite returned to the pinnacle of Ghost, his image is always a representation of that gloomy transition from the glamorous materialism of the 80's to the murky cynicism of the 90's.

Patrick Swayze, at age 57, was taken too soon...

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