How old was jennifer grey when she filmed dirty dancing

'Dirty Dancing:' Jennifer Grey Had 5 Minutes To Prove She Could Play a Character Who Was 8 Years Younger

Dirty Dancing is a classic romance movie with Patrick Swayze portraying one of the main characters. Jennifer Grey acted alongside him as Baby. However, getting the starring role took a surprising turn for the actor, who, reportedly had only 5 minutes to prove she could act Baby’s age. 

Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze starred in ‘Dirty Dancing’

With only a few months left before joining the Peace Corps, Baby is looking for a summer to remember. She doesn’t think she’ll find it at a sleepy Catskills resort until a local dance instructor picks her as his partner. 

A whirlwind romance ensues with plenty of drama and dancing, complete with the iconic lift at the end of the movie. Dirty Dancing, starring Grey as Baby, premiered in the 1980s and remains a favorite film for many dancers and rom-com enthusiasts.

During one interview with News Hub, Grey shared what the filming and the audition project was like. She shared that she was sure another actor would star alongside her. That is, until she danced with Swayze.

“Billy [Zane] was one of my partners, and I thought he was going to get it because he was very like Marlon Brando and his dancing was pretty good,” Grey said of the audition process and finding her scene partner. “But then I remember Patrick and I dancing together, and all of a sudden it was very easy.”

American actors Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in ‘Dirty Dancing’ | Getty Images

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Jennifer Grey was quite a few years older than her character, Baby

Baby, fresh out of high school and looking forward to her new adventures as an adult, is still a teenager in Dirty Dancing. With the movie being set in 1963, and Baby is 18 years old, while her love interest, Jonny, is 24 years old. 

Grey, 27 years old at the time, was eight years older than the character of Baby. As a result, at her audition, she had only 5 minutes to prove she could play younger and rock the dance moves needed for the role. Swayze’s age at the time of filming Dirty Dancing, according to Closer Weekly, was 34 years old.

RELATED: ‘Dirty Dancing’: Patrick Swayze Hated Working With Jennifer Grey — ‘He Sort of Made Fun of Her’

Now, Grey will reprise the role for an upcoming ‘Dirty Dancing’ project

Aside from Dirty Dancing, Grey appeared in a few other iconic movies of the 1980s, including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Red Dawn. Now, fans look forward to another Dirty Dancing related project, recently announced by the actor. 

Most of the details are still foggy regarding this upcoming release, including its premiere date. However, due to the actor’s death from pancreatic cancer, Swayze will not appear in this sequel. Still, fans look forward to new adventures, filled with plenty of nostalgia. 

In the meantime, fans can watch the original Dirty Dancing with a subscription to HBO or with a premium subscription to Hulu.

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 old is Jennifer Grey, 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.

Johnny and Baby's ages in Dirty Dancing (of which Patrick Swayze hates the best line) 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. So, how old is Jennifer Grey? Here's exactly how old Baby and Johnny are in Dirty Dancing, and whether their age is far too wide.

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How Old Are Baby And Johnny

How old is Jennifer Grey? Well, 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 the politically charged 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 toward Mr. Castle throughout most of the film.

In Dirty Dancing, Johnny's 1938 birthdate 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/Frances 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, Roadhouse star 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.

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 Patrick Swayze's 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.

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

Dirty Dancing's Problematic Age Gap Isn't Alone

While the age gap in Dirty Dancing is certainly creepy, it's not the only movie to feature a problematic age gap between the two leads. Whether it's the ages of the actors themselves or the characters they play, Hollywood has pumped out plenty of iconic films that showcase uncomfortable age differences between romantic partners. Take, for example, any Woody Allen film. The romance between Colin Firth and Emma Stone in Allen's 2014 rom-com Magic in the Moonlight is a more modern example. The age gap between the two actors is 28 years, with Firth being 53 at the time and Stone being 25. While legal, the knowledge Firth was 28 when Stone was born made many viewers uncomfortable.

A more overt example of narrative enabling uncomfortable, and also illegal, age gaps is 90s classic American Beauty. American Beauty shows a 42-year-old Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey, then 39) falling in love with his teenage daughter's 16-year-old friend Angela (Mena Suvari, then 19). The 1980 Martin Scorsese drama Raging Bull shows an adult Robert de Niro fall for a 15-year-old character played by a 17-year-old actress. Finally, Entrapment, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery, showed sparks fly between the two characters, but did nothing to explain Sean Connery and Zeta-Jones' nearly 40-year age gap. The age difference in Dirty Dancing may be problematic, but it doesn't exist in a vacuum. In the end, the movie isn't alone in its depiction, and it's far from the worst offender.

Next: What Happened To Dirty Dancing's Jennifer Grey

biography and personal life of the Dirty Dancing star, photos before and after the operation

Together with Patrick Swayze, she conquered the world by playing the role of a teenage girl in the melodrama Dirty Dancing. But success did not help Jennifer Grey: she considered herself ugly and decided to take a step that gave her a perfect appearance. And lost everything.

Olga Moiseeva

Unexpected fame

Dirty Dancing, starring Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze, is named the most unexpected hit 1980s. After watching the finished material, the studio executives wanted to immediately burn the film: in their opinion, this way it was possible to avoid shame and return part of the money spent through insurance. And what else could be expected from a project for which a ridiculous amount of 6 million was allocated and which was “concocted” in just three months? Nevertheless, the film hit the cinemas, and, to the great surprise of the "big bosses", in just a few weeks it became an absolute hit.

Some viewers, unable to part with the charming main characters, beautiful music and incendiary dances, went to the cinema as if they were going to work, not missing a single show. Patrick Swayze, after the film "Dirty Dancing", managed to star in many more films, he was and remains in the memory of a Hollywood star, everyone knows him. But the name and filmography of Jennifer Grey, despite the success of this film, is almost unknown to the general public.

Biography of Jennifer Grey: daughter and granddaughter of actors

Becoming an actress Jennifer was written in her birth. Grandfather is a musician and famous comedian, mother is a singer, father is a film and theater actor. The girl was taught to dance from a very early age, then acting classes were added to the dancing. She first appeared on the screen in commercials, and at the age of 24 she starred in a film for the first time. But the truly popular and recognizable actress Jennifer Gray woke up only after Dirty Dancing. By the way, Matthew Broderick pushed her to star in the project, then the current husband of Sarah Jessica Parker was the fiance of Jennifer Grey.

Touching appearance and plasticity allowed Jennifer Gray to look younger than her years - at that time she was already 27, and she was to play a 17-year-old shy girl. But the producers unconditionally accepted her candidacy. However, Patrick Swayze was ten years older than the hero described in the script: he was already 35. This did not prevent him and Jennifer Gray from making a charismatic couple in Dirty Dancing.

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray's mutual dislike

But the shooting of the film "Dirty Dancing" was not at all as easy and provocative as it might seem. Patrick spoke about the acting abilities of Jennifer Gray - she seemed to him insufficiently prepared for the role. She, of course, was offended and unpleasant, she even cried at times. But their mutual dissatisfaction is completely invisible on the screen: they managed to create a beautiful story of incipient love, almost a fairy tale. There were other troubles: for example, during the filming of the scene where the characters rehearse a complex support in the water, Jennifer Gray caught a bad cold, she even had to lie in the hospital: the water was icy.

But everything is coming to an end, and this work has come to an end. And brought tremendous success to the filmmakers: $ 200 million at the box office, an Oscar for the soundtrack, a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Actress category for Jennifer Grey.

"I'm ugly!"

What about Jennifer? The actress was unhappy. It seemed to her that she was ugly, and that this was especially noticeable on the screen. She was very irritated by her own nose, a small hump infuriated her.

And in 1987, her appearance was disfigured in an accident. Jennifer Gray and Matthew Broderick went to Ireland, a beautiful journey turned into a tragedy: Broderick lost control and flew into the oncoming lane, two people died in an accident, Jennifer Gray injured her neck and face, and this event affected her life. This accident ended the relationship between Jennifer Gray and Matthew Broderick.

In 1989, it became known that Jennifer Gray and Johnny Depp had an affair. At that time, Jennifer was a real star, and Depp was just starting his acting career, so their romance was bright, but ended in just a couple of months.

In the same year, Jennifer Gray decided to have an operation and lay down on the table to a plastic surgeon, who made her a perfect, neat nose that fully meets Hollywood standards.

She probably hasn't heard the saying "Perfect is the enemy of good. " Having lost her former, imperfect nose, Jennifer Gray lost her charm at the same time, she lost her “zest”. Before and after the operation - two different Jennifer Grey. With a new nose, she was not recognized on the streets. She was no longer a cute shy Baby - she turned into one of thousands of actresses with perfectly even identical noses, with a typical pretty face.

By the way, other actresses decided to change the shape of the nose at different times, you can read about it here.

The end of Jennifer Gray's star career

This was the collapse and turning point in the biography of actress Jennifer Grey. Signed contracts were terminated with her and they stopped filming: who needed one out of a thousand? Jennifer Gray was left with second-rate series and episodic roles. The filmography of the actress mentions participation in television series: Perfect Crimes, John from Cincinnati, Phineas and Ferb, New Adventures of Old Christina. Jennifer Gray in "Friends" also got a cameo role. The last work of Jennifer Gray was the appearance in 2010 in an episode of the television series House M.D.

Jennifer Gray regretted what she had done. But it was too late. Years later, in one of the interviews, the actress confessed:

“I entered the operating room as a celebrity, but left as nobody. I will always be that once-famous actress that no one recognizes because of the unsuccessful work of the surgeon.

Well, it still wasn't the end of the world: Jennifer Gray wasn't completely without work and roles. After Dirty Dancing, Jennifer Gray's filmography consists of episodic roles. In addition to television series, she participated in numerous television shows, without refusing any projects, even became the winner of one of the seasons of Dancing with the Stars when she was already 52 years old. By the way, this project brought her not only victory in the competition, but also great luck, practically saved her life: before the start, all participants were forced to undergo a complete medical examination, Jennifer Gray was unexpectedly diagnosed with a malignant tumor of the thyroid gland, and she managed to perform the operation on time without negative consequences.

Jennifer Gray refused to star in the remake

And in 2016 she was offered to “shake the old days” - to star in the sequel to Dirty Dancing. But the actress refused: the fact is that she was not to play Baby, and she could not imagine herself in any other role. Years and even decades have passed since the release of the film. Actress Jennifer Gray has long ceased to be offended by the severity and criticism of Patrick Swayze. She understood: all his criticism was dictated by the high professionalism of the actor and the demand for the same full return from the rest. When in 2009In the year Patrick died of cancer, for Jennifer it was a real grief. She remembered her partner with great warmth and tenderness:

“Patrick had a rare combination of raw masculinity and surprising subtlety. He was beautiful and strong, a real cowboy with a tender heart."

According to Jennifer Grey, she will always have the fondest memories of Patrick in her heart: “He was fearless and always insisted on doing all his own stunts. It is not surprising that he fought cancer with such courage and dignity. When I think about Patrick, I remember how he held me in his arms, how we danced, practiced lifts in the icy lake and had fun doing this simple film that we thought no one would see.

Many years later, Jennifer Gray continues to regret the operation that divided her life into "before" and "after". However, despite this, she does not consider herself unhappy. Jennifer Gray has a good family and a happy personal life - in 2001, actor Clark Gregg became her husband, they had a beautiful daughter, Stella. Now the actress is 61 years old, she still looks great and sometimes acts in films. True, for a long time I had not hoped for the crazy popularity that Dirty Dancing brought to the owner of the "imperfect" nose...

Which Jennifer Gray do you like better: before or after plastic surgery?

Jennifer Gray - photo, biography, personal life, news, movies

American actress Jennifer Gray is known for her roles in the cult films of the 1980s Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Dirty Dancing. Her work in TV shows and movies has won thousands of hearts around the world. She is the winner of the 11th season of Dancing with the Stars in 2010.

Jennifer Gray as a child

Jennifer Gray was born on March 26, 1960 in New York. She is the daughter of the famous theater and film actor Joel Gray and singer Joe Wilder, the granddaughter of comedian and musician Mickey Katz. She also has a brother, James Katz, who became a chef.

As a young girl, Jennifer studied acting and dancing at the Dalton School in Manhattan, graduating in 1978. Later, the girl entered the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse in order to study acting for 2 years.


Jennifer Gray began her career at the age of 17 with a commercial for the soft drink brand Dr. Pepper. She made her feature film debut in 1984 with a minor role as Cathy Bennario in the romantic drama Fearless. In the same year, participation in the action movie "Red Dawn" followed. In 1985, Jennifer took on the role of Carol Schwartz on the ABC series After School Special.

Jennifer Gray in her youth

The first known project of the actress was the comedy film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" 1986 years old. She played the character Jeanie Bueller, the protagonist's sister. The picture grossed $70.1 million at the box office across America, receiving high praise and critical acclaim. The tape acquired the status of a cult school comedy of the 80s along with The Breakfast Club, The Cutie in Pink and Sixteen Candles. Matthew Broderick played the title role in The Day Off.

The next project became an important milestone in the creative biography of the actress and attracted public attention to her. In 1987, Gray starred as Baby Houseman in the melodrama Dirty Dancing, along with actor and dancer Patrick Swayze. They played two young people from different social strata who fell in love with each other through preparation for a joint sensual dance.

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray in Dirty Dancing

This tight-budget melodrama grossed $63.9 million across America and became the first motion picture to sell over half a million copies on VHS. The role in "Dirty Dancing" brought the girl a nomination for the prestigious Golden Globe Award.

Despite the success of the dance melodrama, the further career of the actress began to decline, she was filmed only in minor roles. In 1988, Gray provided her voice for the English language version of the French fantasy cartoon Gandahar: Light Years. The following year, Jennifer co-starred with Madonna in the feature film Bloodhounds of Broadway, based on stories by writer Damon Runyon. The latter received a nomination for the Golden Raspberry anti-award.

Jennifer Gray and Johnny Depp

At this time, the girl began dating actor Johnny Depp, but their engagement was broken off, and the couple soon broke up. From 1990 to 1991, Gray played in the television films "Murder on the Mississippi" along with Tom Hulse and Blair Underwood, "Criminal Justice", "If the Shoe Don't Press" and "Eye of the Witness".

In 1995, the actress starred in the television film "West Side Waltz" with Shirley MacLaine and Liza Minnelli, and the following year - in the thriller "Portraits of a Killer" and the melodrama "Love Knot". At 1998th Jennifer got the opportunity to take part in the TV pictures "Anger and Fury" and "Where You Wore".

Jennifer Gray in "Old Christine's New Adventures" The film stars Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow in the lead roles. In 2006, the actress appeared in the TV movie Road to Christmas with her husband Clark Gregg. A year later, Jennifer worked on the set of the martial arts feature film Red Belt, and one year later, in the independent drama film The Whale.

In 2010, Jennifer Gray participated in the 11th season of the dance competition "Dancing with the Stars" along with partner Derek Hough. They are the winners of this season. The following year, the actress tried on the role of a shift judge in the 9th season of the British analogue of the dance project.

Jennifer Gray and Derek Hough on Dancing with the Stars

Gray provided her voice for a character from the American adaptation of the Japanese animated drama film The Wind Rises in 2013. The following year, she starred in the critically acclaimed fantasy film In Your Eyes and the comedy series Red Oaks.

In addition, the filmography of the actress mentions participation in popular television series such as "Friends" (in 1995), "Perfect Crimes" (in 1995), "John from Cincinnati" (in 2007), "Phineas and Ferb" ( in 2009), "The New Adventures of Old Christina" (in 2009) and "Doctor House" (in 2010).

Personal life

Jennifer Gray's personal life has been successful. July 21, 2001, after a long relationship with actor Clark Gregg, she married him. The couple had a daughter named Stella Gregg on December 3, 2001. The family now lives in Venice, a Los Angeles beach area. Jennifer and Clark no longer have children.

Her husband describes himself as a "sober alcoholic" and is a member of a Jewish family. He has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The Grays were demonstrators at the Women's March, which took place on January 21, 2017 in Washington.

Jennifer is known to have undergone nose surgery in the early 90's which left her unrecognizable to fans, friends and family.

Jennifer Gray after plastic surgery
"I went into the operating room as a celebrity and came out anonymous," the actress said in an interview in 2012. "I will always be that once-famous actress that no one will recognize because of the unsuccessful work of the surgeon. I decided to play a joke over it to make my miss come true. It's not cancer after all, so it's absurd that a simple plastic surgery can do so much damage."

The celebrity is active on social media, reaching out to fans and posting photos from his life. She has thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram. The capital of the actress is $ 6 million. Grey's height is 160 cm, weight is 59 kg.

Jennifer Gray now

In 2018, Jennifer Gray voiced the character Edna in the adventure cartoon "Daddy Goose" and starred in the American drama "On the Spot" along with Alice Eve and Jamie Dornan.

Jennifer Gray in 2019 with her family

In 2019, another drama with the actress will be released called "Bittersweet Symphony".

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