Patrick Swayze- A Real Cowboy with a Tender Heart

AN ELGIN EXCLUSIVE FEATURE by Kavishvi Pahwa

Most people would recall the late Patrick Swayze for his appearance in Dirty Dancing as Johnny Castle, for those tight black jeans and the strong assertion that “nobody puts Baby in a corner”. The surprise hit of Dirty Dancing made Swayze an instant celebrity and established him as Hollywood’s newest heartthrob. But what many don’t know of, is his passion and love for India, as a place and its people.
Image by @patrickswayzeofficial, Instagram

When those you love die, the best you can do is honor their spirit for as long as you live. You make a commitment that you’re going to take whatever lesson that person or animal was trying to teach you, and you make it true in your own life… it’s a positive way to keep their spirit alive in the world, by keeping it alive in yourself. – Patrick Swayze, The Time of My Life

Patrick Swayze starred as Max Lowe, a disillusioned surgeon who moves to India, in Roland Joffe directed the ‘City of Joy’, based on a novel by Dominique Lapierre. Patrick Swayze was a huge star by the time he came to India. But he never behaved like a star on the sets here in Calcutta. He worked really hard on his role. Patrick and the entire cast of ‘City of Joy’ stayed in The Elgin Fairlawn, which is a stone’s throw away from the iconic New Market in Kolkata. He would usually take the cast to New Cathay for drinks to be in his character Max Lowe, someone who couldn’t afford a costlier place.

“Patrick had something about him that was very rugged, but he also had that beautiful, gentle, sensuous ability to move,” explains Ghost costar Demi Moore. He could do it all: sing, dance, act, do gymnastics, fly planes, keep a steady marriage until the day he died. He was the symbol of so many romantic dreams and fantasies. He exuded so much emotion in his facial expressions like his eyes, even when he subtly tensed his jaw.

Image by @patrickswayzeofficial, Instagram

If you live through the initial stage of fame and get past it, and remember that’s not who you are. If you live past that, then you have a hope of maybe learning how to spell the word artist. – Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze, born in 1952 in Houston, Texas, started his career as a dancer before achieving fame on Broadway. Swayze’s mother, the director of the Houston Jazz Ballet Company, offered her son an early exposure to dance. He became an easy target for bullying when Swayze was young since he was a kid always in his ballet tights. Yet the man who would go on to become People’s Sexiest Man Alive was prepared to protect himself against his peers (in 1991, when they called him “Hollywood’s hunk with a heart”).

Patrick Swayze was married to his wife, Lisa Niemi for 34 years, before he died on September 14, 2009, after living with pancreatic cancer. The two met when Lisa was taking dance lessons from Patrick’s mother, Patsy and he knew from the start that she was different. As Lisa puts it, “the first time Buddy [her nickname for Patrick] and I danced together was at a school exhibition. We walked out on stage. I looked in his eyes, it was like everything came alive.”

Image by @patty_swayz, Instagram

“Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner” – expression is a famous quote from the 1987 film Dirty Dancing.

He was a practicing Buddhist and was so intrigued by India that he went on to say, “I’ve always wanted to come to India because I feel this is the place. This is the temple of faith and hope, which we all strive for in our lives. . . . And that’s what ‘The City of Joy’ is all about. It’s what the film has to say about the dignity and beauty of all of us as human beings, no matter what walk of life you come from.”

“When I worked with Patrick, I was very young, and his attitude to his craft had a profound effect on me. He was a perfectionist, very focused, and quite private. He really did his homework to get into the role and lived it very intensely. He was very humble in his approach and open to people, though his star quality shone through.” Said Ayesha Dharker, who played the role of Amrita H. Pal in the movie, City of Joy.

Image by @patty_swayz, Instagram

A still from the movie City OF Joy (1992) – “Fabulous story about how pride and arrogance can be cut to the bone through humility and sacrifice.” – @Rev. Dr. Mark Heilshorn, Google Reviews

Actor Om Puri, who shared a close friendship with Patrick Swayze, after working with him, remembers him as a ‘humble and simple’ individual. In fact, Patrick has written the foreword to Om`s biography. The line from the foreword which haunts the most is when Patrick writes, “When I first visited Mother Teresa’s Home for The Dying, I suddenly realized that we (in the West) live in such a bubble. I wasn’t sure whether it was the dying to be pitied or me. I went back to a changed person.”

That was Patrick Swayze.