Paramount Network remembers Patrick Swayze on his birthdate

New documentary recalls the actor’s life and times

The new documentary “I Am Patrick Swayze” premieres Sunday on Paramount Network.

Whether he was playing a dirty dancer, a compact-sized bouncer or a pottery maker’s ghostly helper, Patrick Swayze was a unique talent.

Continuing the “I Am … ” celebrity biographies that began on Spike TV and now carry forth on its successor, Paramount Network, “I Am Patrick Swayze” – premiering Sunday, Aug. 18, on what would have been his 67th birthday – profiles the late actor whose experience in dancing came in very useful for some of his most popular roles. His mother Patsy was a dance instructor, and his wife Lisa Niemi was one of her students.

The new documentary “I Am Patrick Swayze” premieres Sunday on Paramount Network.

Here’s a look at some of Swayze’s standout credits.

“North and South” (1985): Before movie fame kicked in for him, Swayze established a television presence through the first two of three miniseries based on John Jakes’ historical novels about two connected families on opposite sides of the Civil War. Ironically for someone who would become so famous for his physicality, Swayze’s character walked with a limp through much of this drama.

“Dirty Dancing” (1987): Knowing how to dance meant everything for Swayze in landing the superstar-making part of Johnny Castle, the smooth-moving Catskills-resort teacher who refused to let Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) be put in a corner. Reportedly, Swayze’s agent was against his taking the job. You’ve heard the line, “Get a new agent”? Swayze even scored a hit single off the film, “She’s Like the Wind.”

“Road House” (1989): “I thought you’d be bigger.” Renowned Southern bar bouncer Dalton (Swayze) heard that a lot, but good things came in small packages … particularly for the nightspot owner (Kevin Tighe, of “Emergency!” fame) who hired him to clean up his troubled business. Swayze also held his own against both Sam Elliott and Ben Gazzara, no easy feat.

“Ghost” (1990): It’s bittersweet to watch Swayze’s performance as Molly’s (Demi Moore) deceased, beloved Sam in the aftermath of his own passing, but the actor’s innocent quality did much to make this Oscar winner (for its screenplay and co-star Whoopi Goldberg) a box-office dynamo. Fans returned to theaters time and again to experience this love story – and screen history’s most romantic making of a clay pot, with a mighty soundtrack assist from the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody.”

“Point Break” (1991): In the category “Movies That Really Didn’t Need a Remake,” insert this adventure that has a big, enduring fan base, thanks in no small part to its truly breathtaking aerial acrobatics. As the ethereal robbery-gang leader Bodhi, Swayze had one of the best parts of his career, and it says a lot about his confidence that he didn’t mind playing a bad guy when his fame was at its peak.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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