How old was baby in the original dirty dancing

Baby Comes of Age in Dirty Dancing

Special Features Baby Comes of Age in Dirty Dancing Girl meets boy, dances with boy and gets boy in Dirty Dancing, the wildly popular '80s flick that is now a stage musical.

By Sheryl Flatow

December 19, 2008

Georgina Rich and Josef Brown in London's Dirty Dancing Photo by David Scheinmann


If the lines "I carried a watermelon" and "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" are as familiar to you as your name, it's a good bet that you're passionate about the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing. Its fans are legion. Dirty Dancing was the first movie to sell a million copies on video. A 2007 poll taken in Great Britain found that it was the most-watched film by women, and it's a good bet that if a poll were taken in this country, the results would be similar. So the idea of adapting this beloved movie for the theatre probably seems to be a no-brainer.

But Eleanor Bergstein, the screenwriter, co-producer and driving force behind the film, resisted bringing the piece to the stage for almost 20 years. "Six months after the movie opened, I had all kinds of offers," she says. "But I had no desire to slap a movie onstage. We have such open-hearted people who watch the movie over and over again, and I never wanted to seem to be taking advantage of them. I also thought that turning it into a piece of regular musical theatre would be totally wrong and unnecessary. So I just said no for years."

She began to change her mind when she learned what happened when local television stations ran the movie in a loop — meaning they'd run it continuously, all day. Marketing surveys found that people watched the movie again and again. For Bergstein, that was an epiphany. "Even if they had the video at home, they watched," she says. "It seemed to me that what they really wanted to do was to step through the flat screen and experience the kinetic sense of being there. And I realized you can get that with live theatre."

Which is why Dirty Dancing is now touring the country prior to an anticipated Broadway engagement. The show is already an international hit. It originated in Australia in 2004 and has had, or continues to have, successful runs in London, Toronto, Holland and Germany. For anyone unfamiliar with the movie, Dirty Dancing is the coming-of-age tale of 17-year-old Frances "Baby" Houseman, the brainy, idealistic daughter of a doctor. It's the summer of 1963, and Baby and her family are vacationing at a resort in the Catskills. She becomes infatuated with the streetwise, blue-collar dance instructor, Johnny Castle, much to her father's disapproval. Despite the obstacles, Johnny teaches her to "dirty dance," they fall in love and change each other's lives.

Eleanor Bergstein

"Everything that's in the film is in the show, but there are 25 new scenes, loads of new songs, and a lot more dancing," says Bergstein. Most of the music is performed live, but the show also uses "a few iconic scratchy records." Baby and Johnny do not sing at all. "There's a lot of singing, but no one suddenly bursts into song," says Bergstein. "Even though I love musical theatre, I knew that was not the way to do this. Every line of dialogue is written against a phrase of music or a line of lyric. But the music is used as it is in real life. A band plays. People jam. You hum in somebody's ear when you're dancing. Someone sings at a party, and everyone joins in."

The same is true of Kate Champion's choreography. "Kate believes in the choreography of everyday life, that every movement has a meaning. We have no unison dancing. Everyone has their own individual movements that connect them to the physical world. The choreography is very beautiful, but we wanted everyone watching to feel that if their heart were high enough, they could be doing the dancing."

Dance has always been integral to Bergstein's life, and Dirty Dancing is inspired by her own experiences. Bergstein was called Baby until she was 22, she has a sister named Fran, and her father was a doctor. Baby Houseman plans to join the Peace Corps. Baby Bergstein "wanted to change the world, but in a matched sweater set." The family lived in Brooklyn and summered in the Catskills. "My parents hit the golf course and I went to the dance studio," she says. "I was a teenage mambo queen. But I was also the dirty dancing queen. I grew up in a very rough neighborhood and spent my time in basements, where we dirty danced — it was street dancing to rhythm-and-blues music. I have trophies that would turn your hands green. Later I was an Arthur Murray teacher. There's really a lot of Johnny in me, as much as Baby."

The screen family, like the Bergsteins, are Jewish, left-wing liberals, and the piece was very deliberately set in 1963. "It was a time when people believed that they could put out their hands and make the world better," says Bergstein. "It was the summer of Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech. There was a kind of grace about that time. And that was the last summer. A few months later, J.F.K. was assassinated, and it was all over. After that, it was radical action every place."

Bergstein says that over the years, she has thought about why the movie — and now the show — has earned such ardent devotion. "My feeling right now is that everyone has a secret dancer inside them," she says, "and the show is about how dancing can connect you to the world."

How Old Baby & Johnny Are In Dirty Dancing

By Quinn Hough


Dirty Dancing features an iconic pairing in Patrick Swayze's Johnny and Jennifer Grey's Baby, but their characters are far from the same age.

Dirty Dancing features an iconic pairing in Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, but how big is their age gap, and does it make the movie problematic? Dirty Dancing is somewhat autobiographical for screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, as it's based on her own teenage experiences. This fact only brings the question of Baby and Johnny's age difference further into the light. While the movie doesn't explicitly state the two protagonists' ages, there's enough evidence to suggest that the years between them borders on creepy.

Now streaming on HBO and HBO Max, the 1987 film explores the romance between a teenage girl and her much older dance partner, who meet at a New York resort. Dirty Dancing became a pop culture phenomenon due to its soundtrack and central performances, and was Directed by Emile Ardolino. Set in the early '60s, Dirty Dancing stars Grey as Frances “Baby” Houseman and Swayze as Johnny Castle. The storyline takes place at a Catskills resort called Kellerman's (actually the Mountain Lake Lodge in Mountain, Lake Virginia), where Jake Houseman (Jerry Orbach) and wife Marjorie (Kelly Bishop) spend time with their daughters, Baby and Lisa (Jane Brucker). Meanwhile, Patrick Swayze's Johnny teaches classes and performs with his long-time friend Penny Johnson (Cynthia Rhodes). When Penny becomes pregnant and contemplates an abortion, Baby accepts an offer to train and perform with Johnny so that he can keep his job. In the process, the partners bond through the power of dance.

Related: All HBO Max Original Shows & Movies Releasing In 2022

Johnny and Baby's ages in Dirty Dancing come into question simply by looking at Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray. The two don't even look like they're in the same age group, and the movie takes no strides to explain any part of it. While this could be a product of the time it was made, Dirty Dancing might not hold up well under today's magnifying glass in terms of its more problematic areas. Here's exactly how old Baby and Johnny are in Dirty Dancing, and whether or not their age is far too wide.

How Old Are Baby And Johnny

Clues in Dirty Dancing place Johnny's age at 25 years old and Baby’s age at 17. At the beginning of Dirty Dancing on HBO, Baby's narration references the "summer of '63. " Early dialogue reveals that she's planning to attend Mount Holyoke (an all-female private college in Massachusetts) to study the economics of underdeveloped countries. In Dirty Dancing, Baby also states that she plans to join the Peace Corps shortly before laying eyes on Johnny for the first time. Some reports have suggested that Baby is supposed to be 18 or even 19 years old. However, based on iMDB's trivia notes and a 2017 interview with Grey (via Closer Weekly), it seems that Baby was presumably born in 1946 and is supposed to be 17 years old. The character doesn't actually reveal her age in Dirty Dancing, nor does Johnny ask on-camera. If Baby is indeed a minor, that would explain her father's confrontational attitude with Mr. Castle throughout most of the film.

In Dirty Dancing, Johnny's 1938 birth date makes him 25 years old. The character initially questions why Baby gained access to a private dancing area, but then invites her to boogie and subsequently teaches her some moves. Johnny and Baby slowly become friends while dealing with Penny's medical procedures (Jake Houseman provides the appropriate assistance), and they eventually become romantic partners. Dirty Dancing on HBO never addresses the eight-year age difference between the two characters, which makes the film somewhat controversial – both then and now – because Baby is indeed a minor. In 1963 America, though, it wasn't uncommon for men and women to commit at a young age. The focal Dirty Dancing relationship may not be appropriate, but the age gap isn't enough to make Baby's father concerned during the climactic performance. In fact, Jake Houseman essentially apologizes to Johnny.

How Old Were Patrick Swayze And Jennifer Grey During Dirty Dancing?

The late Swayze was approximately seven years older than Grey in real life. When Dirty Dancing premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1987, Patrick Swayze was 34 years old and was best known for portraying Darrel "Darry" Curtis in The Outsiders and Jed Eckert in Red Dawn. As for Grey, she had just turned 27 and had previously portrayed Jeanie Bueller in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. She also appeared alongside Swayze in Red Dawn as Toni Mason. In 2010, Grey won Dancing with the Stars season 11, just over a year after her Dirty Dancing co-star, Swayze, passed away at age 57 from pancreatic cancer.

Related: Why Road House Is Patrick Swayze's Most Misunderstood Movie

Johnny And Baby’s Age Gap In Dirty Dancing Is Questionable At Best

Johnny and Baby's ages in Dirty Dancing are certainly problematic. And worse still, if she was 17 years old and he was 25, then New York state law would deem nothing wrong with their relationship. This is a problem, as the age gap is discomforting to think about, technically legal, and would definitely raise concerned discussions were a movie to feature it today. Despite this, age gaps like in Dirty Dancing are unfortunately too common. Movies like Licorice Pizza can get away with extensive lovers' age differences, and people seem to be forgiving of its inclusion. After all, Dirty Dancing is still a beloved and critically acclaimed movie when it comes down to it. The film is so prolific that it got a (pretty terrible) TV remake in 2017. Dirty Dancing remains popular, but when put up to today's standards, the age gap between Johnny and Baby wouldn't fly unquestioned were a script to include it today.

Next: What Happened To Dirty Dancing's Jennifer Grey

From "Dirty Dancing" to episodes. How was the life of Jennifer Gray | Cinema and TV | Free time

Oksana Morozova


Jennifer Grey.

We all know and love the film "Dirty Dancing", filmed in the distant 80s, but if the name of the leading actor Patrick Swayze is still well known, although the actor has not been with us for eleven years, his partner is Jennifer Gray obviously cannot boast of such popularity. Why, after a resounding success in the melodrama by Emil Ardolino , she did not become a mega-star in Hollywood and what she does today, says AiF.


Being the daughter of actors Joel Gray and Joe Wilder, Jennifer could hardly have chosen instead of the stage, for example, a mathematical university. The girl planned to follow in the footsteps of her parents and in the mid-80s she already began acting in films. Yes, these were secondary roles that did not promise great fame and money, but Gray did not give up, because it's better than working as a waitress, as before, or flickering in advertising. As a result, the girl was approved as the main character in the film "Dirty Dancing". She was to play Frances Houseman, nicknamed "Baby", a decent girl from a wealthy family who falls in love with an ordinary dancer.

No one really believed that Emil Ardolino's tape would become incredibly popular: the budget was modest, the script was rewritten countless times and rejected by many film studios. The icing on the cake to this list was the rocky relationship between Gray and her partner Patrick Swayze. The latter was eight years older than Jennifer, it seemed to him that she was behaving "like a child," since the actress usually met any criticism with tears in her eyes. In addition, the more experienced Patrick, who has a professional ballet education, always strove to give advice to a colleague on “how to”. It was rumored that by the end of filming, the actors stopped communicating with each other and reconciled only a few years later.

"Dirty Dancing". Shot from the film

In 1987, the tape was released and grossed more than 200 million dollars at the box office, against a budget of 6 million! The success has been phenomenal. Jennifer and Patrick were nominated for the Golden Globe in the category "Best Male" and "Best Actress", however, the statuette did not go to the actors. The journalists on the jury evaluated only the composition from the film "The Time of My Life", which managed to become the "Best Song".

Who is this girl?

While Swayze confidently continued to conquer the audience in other good films, such as in the film "Ghost" or "Road House", Gray's success in the professional field was not so outstanding. And the decision of the actress to do rhinoplasty in general almost put an end to her acting career. This happened in the early 90s. According to Jennifer, the first surgical intervention was not very successful, so it was followed very soon by another one, which made a completely different person out of the favorite of the Americans: “I came into the operating room as a celebrity and left as an unknown person. It was like participating in a witness protection program, ”the actress said in an interview. Because of her appearance, she even wanted to change her name, but then she nevertheless abandoned this idea. After rhinoplasty, Gray began a period of filming in television projects and small episodes. Alas, she did not manage to return her former laurels. But on the personal front, everything turned out much more successfully. 19years ago, she connected her fate with a colleague in workshop Clark Gregg , to whom she gave birth to a daughter Stella .

Jennifer Gray with her husband and daughter. Photo:

In 2012, Jennifer performed in front of the audience in an unusual role for herself - she took part in the show "Dancing with the Stars", which, by the way, she won at the age of 52! Apparently, classes with Patrick Swayze were not in vain for her. But this is not the most important thing that happened to the actress thanks to the project. Before she signed the contract, Gray was forced to undergo a full medical examination, because dancing is a powerful physical activity that only a healthy body can endure. As a result, the star was found to have a malignant tumor on the thyroid gland, which was removed without any complications.

Dance without me

Of course, a film like Dirty Dancing had to have a remake sooner or later. In particular, there was talk about this in 2011, when Lionsgate planned to start production, but already in 2012, she successfully abandoned this idea. But the ABC channel still brought the idea to the end. Moreover, Gray was offered to play one of the roles in the tape, which she told reporters about. She just didn’t specify which one, because in the end she refused to shoot: “I understand that there is no need for me in this project. I won’t say what role I was offered, but, of course, not Baby. And my only advice to its authors was this: shoot your movie, your interpretation and don’t just try to copy the original, then it can turn out just as well or even better, ”the actress said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. The creators of the next "Dirty Dancing" clearly did not heed the advice and made a film that failed miserably, collecting a huge amount of negative reviews. So Jennifer Gray obviously did not lose by abandoning a dubious project. By the way, despite her considerable age, the actress still continues to act in films, alas, not in the lead roles, but perhaps when you have such a tape as Dirty Dancing behind you, it doesn’t matter anymore.

Hollywood actors Jennifer Gray

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"Dirty Dancing" - a masterpiece of feminism

"Dirty Dancing" - one of the main movie hits of the 1980s, a rare film that was ahead of its time and absolutely not outdated even now. To the news about the continuation of the cult film, we explain why it is impossible.

Lisa Birger



film classics

Patrick Swayze

Dirty Dancing is one of the most unexpected film successes of the 1980s. No one expected good things from a film with a budget of 6 million and a filming period of a fast three months: the bosses of the Vestron Pictures studio, after looking at the footage, at first offered to burn it right away in order to recoup at least some insurance costs, and then insisted that the film should not dishonor the studio and went directly to the video store. And yet, it came out and in a few weeks grew into a giant hit: there was even a movement of viewers (to be fair, female viewers) who watched the film in cinemas a hundred times.

Those who attribute the film's success to erotic overtones have obviously never seen it - "dirty" in the context of these dances just means "wild", and in the only remotely erotic scene, the viewer is shown a Chinese red paper lamp. The film was not about dirt at all, and not even completely about dancing. He beckoned the viewer with a freedom that could not be repeated either before or later: that every girl can choose her fate and her sexuality for herself. And if you are seventeen years old and you really want to fuck this handsome instructor, then nothing should stop you. This freedom of Dirty Dancing was ignored yesterday, it is often turned a blind eye today, but this is the main thing in the film and not at all the secret reason for its incredible success.

The story of Dirty Dancing begins with screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein and producer Linda Gottlieb having a dinner together. “I have a good idea for a film,” Bergstein said. “It is based on my life. True, there will be a lot of mamba dancing in it. “Tell me about your life,” Gottlieb asked. Bergstein said: In the 1960s, America, tickets to Europe still cost a little less than planes, and wealthy Jewish families went on vacation to the boarding houses of the so-called Borscht Belt, nicknamed so for its exclusively Jewish population - in Catskill, a mountain range in the Appalachian belt, where, according to Washington Irving, according to legend, Rip van Winkle fell asleep for 20 years. It was here that the entertainment hotels were living their last days, where the rich from Brooklyn settled into expensive - very expensive - bungalows, and they were entertained nightly with dancers, magicians, comedians, musicians and artists. For many of these artists, performing on the "borscht stage" was the first step to a real career - for example, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce and Jerry Lewis started here. But for decent Jewish girls, the hotels of the Borscht Belt were the only territory of freedom - many of them came here to part with their bored virginity or at least to dance passionately. So it was with Eleanor Bergstein, the daughter of a doctor whose family spent all summer at the Grossinger Hotel in Catskill. Here Eleanor learned to dance the mamba - so much so that she won several competitions - and secretly had an affair with the teacher. The film that Gottlieb and Bergstein came up with that evening was to be called I Was the Teenage Mamba Queen. We were lucky that in the end they decided to turn it into something more interesting: not just by chance, but into a fairy tale.

The main character of the film, seventeen-year-old Frances Houseman, nicknamed Baby, "baby", comes with her parents and her stupid older sister to relax for a week and immediately falls for the local dance instructor, a young boorish Irishman Johnny. While her parents watch performances and cut into bridge, she eats through the eyes of Johnny dancing with older women rich enough to let a fur coat casually fall from her shoulder to the floor. But then Baby gets a chance to prove herself - Johnny's dancing partner, Penny, flew into the air from one of the waiters who work part-time in a boarding house between studies at Yale. When Baby tries to withdraw money from the waiter for an abortion, he slips Ayn Rand's "Source" to her, saying that all means are good in achieving greatness. And, having borrowed money from dad "for a good cause", Baby goes to learn mamba from Johnny to perform on stage with him while Penny lies under the knife of a passing doctor. After the dance, and after having to once again call on dad to help the dying Penny, Baby will come to Johnny's room and make him dance with her again - her hand will stop on his ass as an unambiguous announcement of intent. It won't break for a long time.

This is a woman's story, and not at all in the sense of the excessive romanticization that is usually considered feminine, although the kisses here are really tender. This is the story of a woman who herself wanted, chose, seduced, without limiting her sexual desires in any way. She, we recall, is 17, and she is a virgin. She not only chooses herself with whom and how she will lose this virginity, she also saves her chosen one twice, if not three times. The first time is when she dances with him instead of Penny. In the second, when she admits to the whole boarding house that she spent the night with him in order to clear charges of theft from him. And most importantly, when he convinces him that he is not just a boy to please customers, but an adult independent person. Unlike all romantic stories, which, as they say in large studios, women like, the woman here not only does not have a commercial relationship with a man, but also saves him from these commodity relations. It is for this rescue that she gets her name: if at the beginning of the film she was a Baby girl who was going to Harvard to learn how to help starving children in third countries, then at the end she becomes Francis (“in honor of the first woman in the office”), who proved to everyone and daddy, that she is no longer a baby.

Daddy there, by the way, is practically a metaphor for relations with society. At the beginning of the film, Frances says that she came to the boarding house without imagining that there is a man in the world equal to her father - so for her this is a story of getting rid of parental influence. And poor Johnny, who is very burdened by his social status and poverty and is ready to make a coherent speech only about her, literally raves about Dr. Houseman, he wants so much that he notices him and considers him his equal: he goes to talk with dad, tells the girl in bed, that he saw at night how her dad hugged him by the shoulder. In the finale, it was proved to dad, and this is perhaps the most important thing, because it is obvious to everyone that the love of heroes is one-time, like summer, time of my life happens only once in a lifetime and does not stretch for a lifetime. It is important to prove that you have a right to it.

So Dirty Dancing is also about acceptance. When in the finale Johnny comes to the most boring of parties and pulls Francis on stage with the phrase "Nobody puts Baby in the corner" (Nobody puts Baby in the corner), which later became iconic (however, in this film everything is iconic), this is also about the soft power of women and other empowerment: she changed him, he supported her, also in the air, so much so that she didn’t crash. Unlike many who later tried to repeat this scene of support in the air, how many of them ended up trying in the emergency room.

Another thing is that, discharging its feminist clip completely, the film does not solve the social conflict at its core. It is obvious to everyone that Johnny will continue to be a poor Irishman, and Baby, having enjoyed his embrace, will go to lead a rich life in the Ivy League. In numerous interviews, the screenwriter said that she specifically chose the summer of 1963, the last summer of liberalism - Martin Luther King had already said his famous speech, Kennedy had not yet been killed. Soon there will be Beatles, hippies, protests, changes that our hearts did not demand. Patrick Swayze, in a late interview, said a completely amazing thing: that for a long time he resisted saying the phrase about Baby and the corner, argued with the producers, and only when he grew up did he understand what it really means: Johnny continues to serve. Only earlier he served rich aunts for money, and now young maidens for human relations. If you think about it, that's the way most worldly philanthropy works.

It is much more offensive that of all the revolutionary ideas of Dirty Dancing, only the sexy “folk” dance invented by the choreographers, hip to hip, migrated to the people. However, the last dance of Frances and Johnny is still customarily repeated as the first dance of the newlyweds, and the song they dance to, written specifically for the film, (I've Had) The Time of My Life has become one of the three most popular in America funeral songs. We can say that the film is behind the times in only one thing: among the many couples on the dance floor, only one is racial and not a single same-sex. Or almost none: pay attention to how in the finale two respectable Jewish old women start dancing with each other and how people around are scandalized by this.

In "Dirty Dancing", of course, everything is a bit from the realm of fantasy, both love and dance. So, Patrick Swayze insisted on doing all the stunts on his own - and as a result, he fell from the very log on which he so easily balanced in the frame, and injured the very knee, due to the injury of which he had ten years before I had to leave my dancing career. And repeating the famous support in the final is completely dangerous for health. It is no less dangerous to repeat the actions of heroes: I would not advise an underage Jewish girl to try to explain to her doctor father that she does not want to go to Harvard, but wants to sleep with a poor Irish dance instructor. A modern person can have only one reaction to this: is this even legal? No insipid partisan feminism of films of recent years can replicate the success of Dirty Dancing, because it requires acknowledging too many living human feelings - attraction, desire, pride.

One of the main myths of Dirty Dancing is that the actors really couldn't stand each other. Their dislike was obviously overblown: if it were so obvious, we would not have, for example, the famous scene where the characters crawl towards each other on the floor to the song Love is Strange Micky & Sylvia, one of several in the film shot without scenario, when the camera was rolling during the warm-up of the actors. In his autobiography, The Time of My Life, Swayze walked over Gray without malice, saying that she giggled a lot and sometimes fell into a stupid mood, because of which the scenes had to be re-shot several times. One of these giggles turned into another canon scene of the film - the director decided to include failed takes in the editing, where Jennifer cannot help laughing when Patrick runs his hand over her armpit. After Patrick's death, Jennifer Gray told The Hollywood Reporter: "He smelled so good, he had such soft skin, he was so strong, so caring." It looks more like a hidden love than an obvious hatred.

But life, unfortunately, does not look like a feminist fairy tale. It rarely happens in it that a weak girl falls for a guy and drags him into her life by the ass with an unwavering hand. And it often happens that a young actress with a bright Jewish appearance does a nose job to adjust to Hollywood standards - and flies out of the film industry with a whistle, because no one needs her like that, with an ordinary nose - and the actor at this time with rides horses with his wife and earns millions on his Texas ranch. Both actors were not too lucky with their careers: Swayze was slowly forgotten after "Ghost", Gray was immediately forgotten after rhinoplasty. Both made an attempt to return to the 2000s - she participated in "Dancing with the Stars", he played his last, truly great role in the TV series "The Beast", filming 12 hours a day, despite the wild pains from an aggressive form of cancer, and almost literally died under the spotlight.

All his life, Patrick Swayze refused to take part in the remake of Dirty Dancing, no matter how much money he was offered for them. He believed that it was impossible to repeat their success, just as it was impossible to revive the chemical attraction between the characters. For a fee of four million dollars, he starred in the film Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights, playing a cameo role as a dance teacher, and clearly showed how he sees the fate of the dancer Johnny: a lonely dancer in a foreign land. Announced in 2020, plans for a sequel in which Jennifer Gray will co-star and produce are not needed for anything other than a last-ditch attempt to save her career.

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