Patrick Swayze lost his battle with cancer this evening. By the time anybody reads this there will probably already be an oversaturation of memorials for him in the media, but I couldn't go to sleep without reminiscing about an actor that was in so many movies that shaped my teen years.
My Top 5 Swayze Moments (in semi-chronological order):
1. Red Dawn (1984) - After "The Outsiders" gave me a little taste of Swayze as the strong older brother, I was excited to see him in a similar yet far larger role in this apocalyptic "the Russians are evil" film about a group of mid-western teens that try to fight the Soviet invaders. "Red Dawn" had a serious effect on me as a 13 yr old. I totally wanted to BE Leah Thompson or Jennifer Grey's characters, gun-toting, kick ass tomboys who are fighting for their country. It was so weird. It's disappointing to watch this today because the movie just does not hold up well at all. Oh well, I'll always have Patrick and his mullet.
2. Youngblood (1985) - The power of Swayze's mullet lived on in the hockey film he made the following year with Rob Lowe. I fawking loved this movie as an eighth grader. I loved boys (i.e. Rob Lowe, Keanu Reeves, Swayze), I loved hockey, I loved watching boys changing out of their hockey gear in sweaty locker rooms...this awful film awakened all kind of hormones. Sigh...
3. The North & South mini-series Books I and II (1985-1986) - Oh Orry Main, how I loved you. I think this was the first thing that Swayze had done where he really got to use his Southern accent to its full power. This mini-series trilogy that ran over a period of four years on CBS was based on some of my favorite historical fiction books by John Jakes. The mid 80s were the heyday of the mini-series and North & South was one of the best. Swayze really got to show off his acting chops.
4. Dirty Dancing (1987) - I still remember the night well. I was working the evening shift at Domino's and my friend Mandy Dramstad called to see if I wanted to catch a movie after my shift at the Tenleytown theaters that were a block away. Mandy met me at the 'No's and we walked to the theater. It was Friday night and we didn't have any idea what was out or what was opening. I don't remember what else was playing but as soon as we saw the poster for Dirty Dancing and the line of folks waiting to buy tickets for the opening night, we were sold. For two 11th graders the movie was of course - AMAZING - and I remember the two of us singing "Time of Our Lives" at the top of our lungs as I drove us home. Timeless classic for reals.
5. Point Break (1991) - Zen bankrobbing surfer dude who is so awesome even Keanu Reeves' FBI agent didn't want to put him in jail. The reason that Patrick was named by People Magazine as that year's Sexiest Man Alive, 'nuff said.