and his four siblings were raised by their parents Patsy and Jesse Swayze
While still in grade school, Swayze
developed a love for ballet and was often teased by fellow classmates.
Throughout high school, he
set aside his
dance career to concentrate on athletics -- juggling gymnastics, swimming, and football.
After graduation, he
was offered both athletic and dance scholarships.
He opted for athletics and enrolled at San Jacinto College in Houston, Texas, where he focused on gymnastics.
Two years later, Swayze
left school to tour with the Disney
on Parade ice show, as Snow White's Prince Charming.
After touring, Swayze
returned home, where he
fell in love with Lisa Niemi, his
mother's 16-year-old dance student.
In 1972, he
traveled to New York City to pursue a dance career.
After Lisa's high school graduation, she
in New York, where the couple trained with the Harkness and Joffrey Ballet companies.
and Niemi were married in 1975.
Having renewed his dedication to ballet, Swayze was soon hired as a principal dancer with the Eliot Feld Ballet Company.
success was cut short when an old football injury required that he
undergo knee surgery.
The operation, coupled with the infection that followed, caused Swayze
to leave the prestigious Feld Company.
In 1976, he
efforts toward stage acting, and made his
Broadway debut in Goodtime Charley.
later appeared in West Side Story, and in 1978, he
won the leading role in the musical Grease.
high-profile performance as Danny Zuko led to many television and movie offers.
Swayze experienced a milestone in 1983, when director Francis Ford Coppola cast him in The Outsiders, alongside future stars Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, and Emilio Estevez.
In 1981, Swayze
added television to his
repertoire with a notable portrayal of a leukemia patient on the series M*A*S*H.
is also credited for his
work in the 1985 miniseries North and South along with the 1986 sequel.
During the mid-80s, Swayze
appeared in a few forgettable films, including Red Dawn and Grandview, U.S.A. (1984).
In 1989, Swayze
starred in two action features, Road House and Next of Kin, which both enjoyed modest success at the box office.
Ghost grossed over $200 million and earned Swayze
a second Golden Globe nomination.
In 1991, Swayze's
popularity was confirmed when he
adorned the cover of People magazine
as "The Sexiest Man Alive.
later partnered with Keanu Reeves in the action-adventure Point Break (1991), followed by 1992's City of Joy.
Both films met with moderate success, and Swayze's
rise to superstardom seemed to taper off for the next few years.
In 1995, Swayze teamed up with fellow actors Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo to play a trio of drag queens in the comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything!
performance as Vida Boheme won him a third Golden Globe nomination in 1996.
In 1997, Swayze
right leg in a horse-riding accident while filming Letters From a Killer (1998).
In the late 1990s, his
poor film choices, combined with a serious drinking problem, severely hampered his