How old was patrick swayze in dirty dancing movie

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

How Old Was Patrick Swayze In ‘Dirty Dancing’?

Ahh, Dirty Dancing, such an ‘80s classic. It’s won two Academy Awards, a Grammy, and a loyal following that’s lasted decades. But what do we know about the age difference between the two lead stars?

Patrick Swayze was 35 years old when the cult classic Dirty Dancing was released in the United States, although he may have been 34 years old when they filmed. His costar, Jennifer Grey, was in her late 20s. 

Let’s take a closer look at how Patrick landed the role, including a background on his career before and after the film.

Starting Out

Swayze was athletic from a young age, participating in ice skating and ballet at 20 years old. A football career could have been on the cards, but he suffered from a knee injury that ultimately ended that dream.

Instead, he made the move to New York City, where he finished formal dance training at Joffrey Ballet School and Harkness Ballet school.

His debut professional dance career began at the Disney Theatrical Group, which was followed by a main role as Danny Zuko in the Broadway production of Grease. The first film he starred in was called Skatetown, U.S.A., where he played a character called Ace.

While his first big break was arguable in North and South, a miniseries on TV in 1985, Swayze really cemented his place in the movie industry with Dirty Dancing. The film was actually a low-budget project and was planned to be released for only one week.

A Life-Changing Role

As well as showing off his dancing chops, Swayze co-composed and performed “She’s Like the Wind”, a song that was featured on the film’s soundtrack. 

Considering the fact that he was born in 1952 on the 18th of August, Swayze was 35 years old at the time that the film was released, which was on August 21st, 1987 in the US.

Jennifer Grey, who portrayed Frances “Baby” Houseman, was 27 years old at the time. She was supposed to be portraying a 17-year-old, and Swayze was meant to be 25 years of age in the film.

Funnily enough, Swayze and Grey weren’t the original picks for the roles. Instead, the character of Johnny Castle was offered to Val Kilmer, and Baby was auditioned for by Sharon Stone and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Following the coming of age film, Swayze was bombarded with tons of new acting opportunities. He had roles in Steel Dawn (1987), Road House (1989), Next of Kin (1989), and of course his other massive hit, Ghost (1990) with Demi Moore.

In 1991 at 39 years old, he appeared in Point Break alongside Keanu Reeves, and the following year was nominated for an MTV Movie Award in the “Most Desirable Male” category.

Working With Grey

Despite what the beloved film portrays at its climax, the ‘80s lovebirds apparently weren’t too keen on each other in real life. A lot of the tension seen between the characters in the film is, in fact, real.

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Grey and Swayze had worked together previously on Red Dawn, and things began feeling tense even then.

Since Grey was almost a decade younger than her seasoned costar, she had a different approach when it came to acting. 

Linda Gottlieb, a producer on the set of Dirty Dancing, once shared a glimpse into the dynamics between the two:

“He felt like she was a wimp. She was genuine, naïve; you would do a take eight times and Jennifer would do it differently every time.”

She added, “Patrick was a pro; he would deliver the same thing again and again. She would cry easily, she was emotional and he sort of made fun of her. He was a macho guy.” 

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter in 2016, Grey reminisced on her time working with Swayze, emphasizing her youth at the time of filming:

“He smelled really good, his skin was really nice. He was really strong and he was very protective and his heart was very much in it,” she said. “It was our second movie we’d done together within a short time — we did Red Dawn first and then Dirty Dancing.  

She continued, “He was a great dancer and he was fearless. His fearlessness with my fearfulness — like his lack of Jewishness and my super Jewishness — together was like a marriage where you have two opposites. He’d do anything and I’d be scared to do anything.”

In the video below, watch Swayze share his experience with Grey before he sadly died in 2009 of pancreatic cancer. 

Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze died of cancer 10 years ago

Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze passed away exactly ten years ago, on September 14, 2009. "Gazeta.Ru" tells about the career and fate of an actor who clung to life with all his might, fighting cancer.

American actor, dancer, singer and songwriter Patrick Swayze was born in Texas and has been involved in sports and art since childhood. He simultaneously trained in figure skating, ballet, and also acted in school plays and the football team. At the same time, the versatile child was fond of martial arts - wushu, taekwondo and aikido. However, a knee injury prompted Swayze to leave serious sports, and he turned his attention to creativity. At 19In 72, the future artist moved to New York, where he studied at the Harkness Ballet and Joffrey Ballet ballet schools.


Still from The Ghost (1990) 1985 Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze. Still from the film "Dirty Dancing" (1987) Still from the film "Ghost" (1990) Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. A still from the film "Point Break" (1991)

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View photo professions. He made his film debut at 19.79, starring in the movie Skatetown. In parallel with the development of acting courses, despite the injury, Swayze was the lead dancer in the prestigious Elliot Feld Dance Company. His next film work was Red Dawn by John Millius in 1984.

The actor became famous thanks to his roles in such films as "Dirty Dancing" , "Ghost" , "Road House" , "Point Break" and others. In addition, Swayze acted as a producer and composer in several tapes. nine0003

The actor has appeared in dozens of films and TV series and played a large number of theatrical roles, but he is best known for his role as dance instructor Johnny Castle in the film Dirty Dancing.

The film, about a 1960s romance between a couple at a resort, was a hit, contrary to what critics had predicted, earning both actors Golden Globe nominations. For the soundtrack to the tape, Swayze performed the song "She's Like the Wind", and his famous phrase "No one will corner Baby" was included in the hundred most famous lines in the history of American cinema. nine0003

It is curious that the actor himself was not satisfied with the ending of the picture, which he considered illogical.

"I always felt that Johnny should end up with dancer Penny, because they are from the same circle, and such a union is more realistic than Johnny and Baby," Swayze believed.

Two decades later, Dirty Dancing, which also featured the Oscar-winning song "The Time of My Life," remains very popular and is shown frequently on television in the US.

The second truly stellar role for Swayze was the role in the melodrama "Ghost", where he played with Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. The film was a huge box office success, as well as an Oscar nomination in the Best Picture category.

“Patrick had to work hard to be taken seriously in Hollywood. There was something very rough about him, but at the same time - a beautiful, gentle, sensual manner of playing, ”said Moore after the death of the actor.

In Point Break, Swayze shared the set with Keanu Reeves. After this film, the actor's popularity began to fall: for many, he remained a hostage to one role - Johnny Castle. In 2004, the actor played a cameo role in the film Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights, for which he received a record fee of $5 million.

The only love in Swayze's life was his ballet classmate Lisa Niemi. In the future, she became the wife and main muse of the artist, to whom he dedicated the song "She's Like The Wind", which became the soundtrack of "Dirty Dancing".

In 1990 Niemi suffered a miscarriage resulting in infertility. The actor supported his wife, saying that together they will cope with all the failures. To drown out the worries, the couple began to breed horses on their own ranch. However, the idyll did not last long: upset by the failures in several projects, Swayze became addicted to alcohol. Being in a state of intoxication, he ceased to be like himself. Later, relatives were able to convince the uncontrollable actor to undergo treatment in a rehabilitation clinic. nine0003

“There is no perfect relationship, you just don't give up. And of course there are bad times. But I would be with Patrick a million more times if I could,” said Swayze’s wife.

However, the 55-year-old actor was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Upon learning of the diagnosis, Swayze began to work actively: he wrote memoirs and starred in many projects.

After suffering pneumonia in January 2009, metastases were found in Swayze's liver. He passed away in Los Angeles on September 14,

“I thought that during the 22 months of my husband's illness, I had time to get used to the idea that I would lose him. But when I really got to that point, I realized it's not the same at all," Niemi said.

She was married to her husband for 34 years and fell into a deep depression after his death. For a long time, the actor's widow thought that she would not be able to marry a second time, but in 2014 she met a new lover.

Patrick Swayze filmography | Biography Patrick Swayze | Actor's personal life

Childhood Actor: All You Need to Know About Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze is from Texas. In childhood, he was engaged in dancing, and in adolescence, in order to defend himself from hooligans, martial arts. After graduation, he went to New York to pursue a career as a dancer. After an injury, he took up acting. The film Dirty Dancing brought him success. 10 Interesting Facts About Patrick Swayze Julie Newmar (1995) earned the actor a third Golden Globe nomination. In the film, Patrick played the role of Views of Bohemia, an artist using a female image. The performer said that to create the character of the character, he used as a model his mother, actress Demi Moore, with whom he played in the film "Ghost" and Audrey Hepburn. He also went to nightclubs and talked with transvestites to get used to the character. Lisa, the wife of Patrick Swayze, was not enthusiastic about either the role or how Patrick prepared for it. To reassure her, the actor said, "Think of it this way, dear: you're not losing a husband, but you're gaining a girlfriend." nine0071

  • They did not want to approve him for the role in the film "Ghost" : The film "Ghost" (1990) with a modest budget of $22 million became a box office hit, earning more than $505 million worldwide. The work was awarded two Oscars, a Golden Globe and British BAFTA. Swayze's work in the film brought him the second Golden Globe nomination in his career. Interestingly, director Jerry Zucker did not want to approve Patrick for the main role. After the action movie Roadhouse, Patrick Swayze was associated with him as a bouncer, incapable of lyrical roles. In addition, among the contenders for the role were such eminent actors as Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis and Tom Cruise. However, Patrick read the script in such a way that everyone present at the casting began to cry. nine0071
  • Dancing Melted Jennifer Grey's Heart: Before Dirty Dancing, Jennifer and Patrick worked on Red Dawn (1984), and they didn't have the best relationship. Swayze and crew members set off a firecracker under Jennifer's door one evening, scaring her badly. Therefore, on the set of Dirty Dancing, the relationship between the actors was tense, until it came to dancing. According to Gray, Swayze told her that he would not leave her, would not allow her to get hurt and would protect her body more than his own. Jennifer's heart melted after such words, she recalled that she had begun to do something that, in her opinion, she was not capable of before. nine0071
  • He had iron willpower: At the age of 18, Patrick, playing football, broke his leg and lay in a cast for six months. When the plaster was removed, the leg muscles atrophied. Swayze didn't give up. He danced every day, and a few years later he became a dancer in a popular ballet troupe. Later, Patrick danced on the same stage with Mikhail Baryshnikov.
  • Landed the plane on the road: In 2000, in Northern Arizona, someone landed his Cessna plane on a country road. At the scene, the sheriff and firefighters found that the wing of the plane was damaged. The pilot was not on site. Later, the authorities found out that actor Patrick Swayze owned the plane. After landing, he found a horse, saddled it and went to look for the nearest telephone to report the incident. nine0071
  • Swayze documentary tops TV ratings: After Patrick's death, Paramount Network made a documentary called I Am Patrick Swayze. For the picture, memories of the actor were shared by his wife, Demi Moore and other colleagues and friends. During the premiere on August 18, 2009, two million viewers watched the tape. It became the highest rated documentary on cable television in 2009.
  • Turned down $10 million for a role in a failed film: Patrick Swayze, whose biography contains many interesting stories, said in an interview that after "Dirty Dancing" he was offered a contract for $10 million. The company was going to release a perfume called "Patrick", and Swayze was supposed to record an exercise video. The actor refused the offer, choosing to work in the film "Road House" (1989). The picture turned out to be a failure, was nominated for the Golden Raspberry, but over the years has acquired a cult status.
  • The song "She's Like The Wind" was not written for "Dirty Dancing": The composition after the release of the picture on the screen became a worldwide hit, took the third position in the Billboard Hot 100 at the end of the year. Contrary to popular belief, it was not written for Dirty Dancing. Patrick and Stacey Widlitz wrote the composition for Grandview (1984). This movie with Patrick Swayze is little known to fans. The song was not included in the final version of the film. Patrick and co-author retained all rights to it. Therefore, during the filming of Dirty Dancing, he offered his creation to the producers. nine0071
  • He had a carpentry business: In 1979, the actor made his debut in a film called Skatetown, USA. He was offered a contract for several films, but, according to the terms of the agreement, Patrick could not choose the offered roles. Fearing to remain in the role of a teen movie actor, Swayze refused the contract. Together with his wife and relatives, he created the company Nepotism Ink, which was engaged in carpentry. Patrick mastered the craft from books. He was engaged in business in breaks between auditions. Thanks to the company, he got the opportunity to selectively approach the choice of roles. nine0071
  • Was Disney Prince Charming: In the 1990s, films starring Patrick Swayze were a hit with audiences around the world. In 1991, People magazine named the actor the sexiest man alive on the planet. But not everyone knows that even before recognition, Patrick played the role of Prince Charming in the Disney on Parade show. Prior to starting his acting career in the 1970s, he was a dancer for the Disney Theatrical Group.
  • Biography of Patrick Swayze

    Childhood of Patrick Swayze

    The future actor was born in Houston, Texas. His ancestors were Puritans who arrived on the American continent in the 17th century. The first known ancestor of John Sweisy was from Puritan settlers who fled to the New World from England due to religious persecution. In America, he married a native of Essex, Katherine King. They had seven children. Their grandson Samuel changed the spelling of Swayce's name to Swayze.

    Patrick Jesse Wayne Swayze's father, according to the actor, was a typical southerner, soft and gentle until he was pissed off. According to Patrick, it was his father who gave him the main moral guidelines in life. nine0003

    Patsy's mother was a choreographer. She had a significant impact on the later life of the actor. Eight-month-old Patrick was sitting in the arena, in the dance class, while his mother taught the students. Some biographers believe that this determined his passion for dancing in adulthood. He even met his future wife in his mother's class.

    In the movie I Am Patrick Swayze, Lisa said that Patrick's mother was a harsh woman and severely punished him for any misconduct. According to her, Patrick's father once threatened Patsy with a divorce if she did not leave her son alone. The story was indirectly confirmed by the actor's brother Don. He stated that the mother was firm in order to spur Patrick. nine0003

    According to other sources, Patrick Swayze fought for his mother's attention as a child. He was one of five children in the family, he complained to his mother when he was bullied at school. For this, he received the nickname "mama's boy." He remained close to Patsy all his life. She outlived her son by several years and died in 2013.

    Thanks to his mother, Patrick has been choreographing since childhood. He recalled that he lived among the rednecks - this is how the inhabitants of the outback are called in American jargon. Therefore, dance classes were not in vain for him. He was regularly beaten by his peers, believing that dancing was not what a real Texan should do. nine0003

    The father was sure that his son should be able to stand up for himself. Therefore, Patrick Swayze in his youth was engaged not only in dancing, but also in martial arts. According to family legend, he was beaten by five bullies in high school. The coach of the school team, having learned about this, arranged for him to meet with the offenders in an empty barn. There, Patrick defeated each of the hooligans in one-on-one duels, after which he was known as the toughest guy in his senior classes.

    In addition to dancing and martial arts, Patrick played sports at school. According to some sources, he wanted to be a footballer, but an injury prevented him from achieving his dream. nine0003

    Early life of Patrick Swayze

    After leaving school, Patrick went to New York where he improved his dance skills in two ballet schools. In the late 1970s, he was invited as an understudy to the Broadway musical Grease. Patrick Swayze, whose photo in his youth shows an attractive young man, according to Hollywood legend, was the first contender for the role in the film adaptation of Grease. But Patrick was injured, and the role went to John Travolta, for whom "Grease" was the beginning of his acting career. nine0003

    After his injury, Swayze realized that he could not make a living dancing and started taking acting lessons.

    Patrick Swayze's acting career

    In 1979, the actor made his debut in the feature film Skatetown, USA. This is a musical comedy about teenagers who go rollerblading. Patrick landed the role through experience gained while working on the Disney on Parade ice show. The film received negative reviews from critics and audiences. At the same time, Swayze's work in the reviews deserved praise. Two years later, he played an episodic role in the cult TV series MASH. nine0003

    Patrick Swayze, whose films were not very successful in the 1980s, in 1987 played in one of the main films in his film career. "Dirty Dancing" was a project that the studio did not have any hopes for. The producers planned to release it directly on VHS, bypassing cinemas. According to Hollywood legend, famous producer Aaron Russo, after seeing the film, advised the studio director to burn the negatives and get insurance. nine0003

    When the film did hit, it was a box office bomb, grossing $213 million, 35.5 times its production budget. The film won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and nine other awards. Journalists called the picture "Star Wars for Girls".

    The actor received his first Golden Globe nomination for his work in the film.

    Patrick Swayze, whose filmography on IMDb includes more than 50 works, three years after Dirty Dancing, again surprised the audience. He starred in the cult film "Ghost". The tape was a huge success. She became the highest grossing film of 1990 years. The tape paid off its production budget almost 30 times, having collected $ 505 million worldwide. The film received 16 awards, including two Oscars, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.

    "Ghost" has had a significant impact on pop culture. The potter's wheel scene has been hailed as one of the most iconic cinematic scenes of the 1990s. Although supporting performer Whoopi Goldberg won most of the prizes, Patrick also became famous. His surname Swayze became part of hip-hop culture, turned into a term that meant the inevitable departure. It was used in their work by many cult artists, including The Notorious BIG, Mobb Deep, Method Man and others. nine0003

    Patrick Swayze: biography, personal life, children

    The actor was monogamous. Lisa Niemi and Patrick Swayze met through dancing. She attended the Patsy Swayze School. At the time of their acquaintance, she was 15 years old, and Patrick was 18. As Lisa recalled, they first danced at a school party. She looked into his eyes and everything around came to life.

    In 2008, Patrick said in an interview that it was Lisa who inspired him to write the song "She's Like The Wind". nine0003

    They have been through a lot together. Patrick was interested in Buddhism and Scientology. In the 1990s, after the fame that fell on him, the actor could not stand it. He began to abuse alcohol. A black streak has come in his life. Patrick took the death of his father hard. Later, his manager passed away. In 1994, Vicki's sister Lynn Swayze committed suicide. The actor needed rehabilitation. He briefly left his career and went to a ranch to breed horses. Lisa supported her husband all the time.

    In January 2008, doctors diagnosed Patrick with a fatal diagnosis.

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