Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patrick Swayze lost his battle with cancer at 57

LOS ANGELES : Hollywood actor Patrick Swayze, best known for his roles in the hit films "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost," has died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, his publicist said Monday.

The 57-year-old heart-throb had died after suffering complications from the illness, Swayze's publicist said. Swayze was diagnosed with advanced stage-four pancreatic cancer in January 2008, leaving him with only a one per cent chance of surviving longer than five years, according to medical experts.

Swayze had bravely fought the disease in the public eye, continuing to work despite cancer treatment and significant weight loss. In January he slammed tabloid reporting of his illness in an interview with ABC television's Barbara Walters, where he bullishly declared that he was determined to beat his condition.

He told Walters he had tried to keep his illness secret but went public to protect family and friends after tabloids reported he was close to death.

"Hope is a very, very fragile thing in anyone's life and the people I love do not need to have that hope robbed from them when it's unjustified and it's untrue," Swayze said.

In May, Swayze's spokesperson condemned "reckless" reports that the star had died, saying he was alive and well and responding to treatment. A lanky Texan with a dancer's easy grace, Swayze -- the son of a dance teacher and an engineering drafter -- had a string of hit films in the 1980s and 1990s. He was named "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine in 1991.

As a young man, he moved to New York City in 1972 for more formal dance training at the prestigious Harkness Ballet and Joffrey ballet schools. He scored a small-screen success in the 1985 television miniseries North and South, which was set in the American Civil War.

After years of roles on television and the silver screen Swayze shot to superstardom in 1987 with his film "Dirty Dancing," an international blockbuster in which he played a dancing teacher to a young wallflower who starts to bloom.

In "Ghost," Swayze starred opposite Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg in a film that won Goldberg an Oscar. In 1995, he took a turn in drag in "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar." Swayze soldiered, on working through much of his illness, and spending time with wife Lisa Niemi, a dancer and actress.

While 2004's "Dirty Dancing 2," in which he had a small role, was not a hit, he just recently acted for five months in a television series "The Beast," in which he played an FBI agent.

"You can bet that I'm going through hell," Swayze told Walters in January. "I'm at the beginning of my battle. And I expect it to be a long hard battle, one that I'm gonna win according to certain rules -- and the rules that the cancer isn't going away," he added.

Swayze said he had met the diagnosis with defiance. "I have the meanness and the passion to say, 'To hell with you. Watch me! You watch what I pull off,'" he told Walters.

- AFP/il


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