How old were the characters in dirty dancing

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.

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

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

See Their Ages When They Were Filming

We can always count on having the time of our lives when we watch Dirty Dancing (pun totally intended). After all, the cast is pretty relatable and they always make us wish that we were a part of the movie. But best of all, it's amazing to see that there was such strong chemistry between the actors, regardless of their different ages. Case in point? Take Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze!

“His fearlessness with my fearfulness — it was like a marriage where you have two opposites. He would do anything and I would be scared to do anything. [But] he was really strong and very protective of me,” Jennifer exclusively told us. Talk about adorable!

It's hard to believe that it's already been 29 years since the film came out. We recently got a look at the cast then and now, and sadly, a few of our favorites, including Patrick, have passed away. But in the spirit of the classic — which currently has a remake coming to ABC — we thought we'd take a look at the actors' ages when they filmed the classic!

Believe it or not, there wasn't a single cast member who was under 25 (we thought Jennifer was way younger), and it turns out that one of these actors made their big on-screen debut with this movie!

Curious to know more? Well, just wait until you find out the ages of these talented actors!

MUST SEE: See the Cast of 'Dirty Dancing' Then and Now!

Click through the gallery to see how old the cast was when they were on Dirty Dancing!

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Vestron Pictures


Jennifer Grey

The actress was actually 27 years old when she portrayed 17-year-old Frances "Baby" Houseman. Jennifer now plays Judy Myers in the Amazon Studios comedy, Red Oaks.

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Patrick Swayze

The smooth and suave Johnny Castle was supposed to be 25 years old, but like Jennifer Grey, Patrick was almost ten years older (34) than the character he played. Unfortunately, the actor passed away in 2009 after suffering from pancreatic cancer.

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Jane Brucker

Her character was meant to be just a few years older than Baby, but Jane was actually 29 when she starred as Baby's older sister, Lisa Houseman. She's now married to a photographer and has two daughters.

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Kelly Bishop

The actress was 43 when she took on the role of Baby's mom, Marjorie Houseman. She's best known for her role as Emily Gilmore in Gilmore Girls and she recently starred in the show's revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

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Cynthia Rhodes

She was 31 when she played Penny Johnson. No one knows the exact age of her character, but since she played Johnny's dance partner, it's assumed that Penny was also supposed to be 25.

Cynthia married singer Richard Marx in 1989 and they have three sons together. However after 25 years together, the two divorced and she retired from acting so she could raise her children.

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Jerry Orbach

When he played Dr. Jake Houseman, he was 52 years old. He sadly passed away at the age of 69 due to prostate cancer.

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Wayne Knight

The actor was 32 when he played Stan. He's best known for his character Newman in the sitcom Seinfeld, but as of now, he's focusing on voice acting.

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Jack Weston

Jack was 63 when he portrayed Max Kellerman in Dirty Dancing. He was married and he had a stepdaughter, but at the age of 71 he sadly died of lymphoma.

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Neal Jones

He was just 27 when he played Billy Kostecki, and believe it or not, this was his first ever on-screen role! He's now married and is a father.

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Miranda Garrison

The actress was 37 when she played the younger character, Vivian Pressman. She was also an assistant choreographer on the film.

She became a judge for the British reality competition series Dirty Dancing: The Time of Your Life in 2007 and 2008.

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Lonny Price

Lonny was 29 years old when he played Neil Kellerman. He currently directs films and his most recent project, Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, was released in 2016.

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How did the fate of the actors of the film "Dirty Dancing": details

Editor's choice

frame from the film

This year the film "Dirty Dancing" turned 30 years old! ABC decided to mark this event with a remake. On May 24, the musical version of "Dirty Dancing" aired. The role of Baby was played by a young actress Abigail Breslin, and professional dancer Colt Prattes became the new Johnny.

However, so far the new film has received only continuous criticism. Perhaps it's the die-hard fans of the old version who aren't ready to accept anyone other than Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze.

In the meantime, critics smash the remake of the cult melodrama, let's remember how the fate of the actors of "Dirty Dancing" version of 1987.

Patrick Swayze (Johnny Castle)

still from the movie, Getty Images

Patrick was 34 years old when he was cast as Johnny the dancer at Max Kellerman's summer boarding house. His candidacy was first called into question. Still, Patrick was 10 years older than his character. However, on the screen between him and Jennifer Gray there was such chemistry that all doubts disappeared.

At the same time, Patrick had already been married for 12 years to actress Lisa Niemi, whom he had known as a teenager. Yes, and with Jennifer behind the scenes, as it turned out, he did not have a very warm relationship - the actors did not like each other during filming.

After Dirty Dancing, Patrick starred in the films Roadhouse and Ghost, as well as other less significant films. And he was also recognized as the sexiest man on the planet.

In 2004, Swayze was given a small role in Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights. And 4 years later, the world learned that the actor was fighting pancreatic cancer. But even despite the terrible diagnosis, Patrick continued to work. He managed to star in one season of the TV series "The Beast" before he succumbed to the disease.

He passed away in September 2009.

“Patrick had a rare combination of raw masculinity and amazing subtlety. He was beautiful and strong, a real cowboy with a tender heart, said his Dirty Dancing partner Jennifer Gray after the death of the actor. 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 climbs in the icy lake and had fun doing this simple film that we thought no one would see.

Jennifer Gray (Baby)

still from the film, Getty Images

The actress made her film debut in 1984 with small roles in the films "Reckless", "Red Dawn" and "The Club" Francis Ford Coppola. And now, three years later, she had the good fortune to play the 17-year-old Francis Houseman, nicknamed Baby, who falls in love with the sophisticated dancer Johnny. At the same time, she, like Swayze, was 10 years older than her heroine.

By the way, this was not the first collaboration between Jennifer and Patrick. The first time they starred together in the film "Red Dawn". However, it was for the role of Baby Jennifer that she received her only nomination for the Golden Globe Award in her creative career.

A couple of years after Dirty Dancing, Jennifer decided to get a nose job. The actress thought that the new look would help her in her career, but the opposite effect happened - she lost her individuality. They say it was the new nose that caused the collapse of Jennifer's career.

still from the movie

“I walked into the operating room a celebrity and walked out a nobody,” she said in 2012. — This was a terrible rhinoplasty! I will forever remain a famous actress that no one will recognize because of a nose job.

Although it cannot be said that Jennifer was unemployed. But mostly they were TV shows. One of the latest is the Red Oaks series.

In 2010, Gray participated in the US "Dancing with the Stars", during a physical before the show, she learned that she had thyroid cancer. But she started treatment on time, so the disease receded. At the same time, she won the show!

“This dance experience was much harder than Dirty Dancing. There I taught almost one dance for 1.5 months. And the show had a new dance every four days. This is a completely different level, much more difficult, ”she later shared.

The actress had affairs with actors Matthew Broderick, William Baldwin and Liam Neeson. She was even engaged to Johnny Depp. In 2001, Jennifer married actor Clark Gregg. Their daughter Stella is 15 years old.

Jerry Orbach (Jake Houseman - Baby's father)

still from the film, Getty Images

Jerry had quite a rich track record even before Dirty Dancing. He starred in serials, movies, performed on stage. Back at 19In 1955, the actor made his Broadway debut in the production of The Threepenny Opera and in the same year made his first appearance on the big screen.

After his role in Dirty Dancing, Orbach began to appear more and more on television. Great success brought him the role of detective Lenny Briscoe in the TV series Law & Order, which he played for 12 years - from 1991 to 2004.

He also voiced Lumière's candelabra in Beauty and the Beast.

Jerry Orbach has been married twice. From the first brother left two sons. Orbach's second wife, Broadway actress and dancer Elaine Kansila, was with him until his death.

The actor died in 2004 from prostate cancer, which he had been battling for 10 years. In February 2005, the US Screen Actors Guild posthumously awarded Orbach the Best Actor Award for Law & Order. And in 2007, one of the streets of New York was named after him.

Kelly Bishop (Marjorie Houseman - Baby's mother)

still from the film, Getty Images

Like Jerry Orbach, Bishop was famous even before filming Dirty Dancing. At 19In 1976, she received a Tony Award for Best Actress in the Broadway musical Card De Ballet, which would later be called a cult.

She originally auditioned for the role of Vivian Pressman, one of the vacationers at the boarding house, with whom Johnny had an affair. But when the actress who played Marjorie fell ill, Kelly was offered the role of Baby's mom.

“Jerry Orbach whispered in my ear, 'Take this part. She's better," Kelly said in an interview. — So I did. Jerry then took me under his wing."

After that there were several works in serials and film roles, including shooting in the film "Parts of the Body" and "Geeks". From 2000 to 2007, Bishop played one of her favorite roles - Emily Gilmore in the television series Gilmore Girls.

By the way, in 2011, Kelly played in a Broadway production with Joel Grey, the father of her Dirty Dancing co-star Jennifer Grey.

Bishop is married. The couple has no children.

still from the movie

Cynthia Rhodes (Penny Johnson - Johnny's partner)

still from the film, Getty Images

The American actress and dancer, before filming Dirty Dancing, managed to light up in the films Flashdance and Lost. Until the 90s, she sang in the pop-rock group Animotion.

Acted in video clips as a dancer. In one of them, Cynthia met her future husband, singer Richard Marks. They have been married for 25 years. Cynthia bore Richard three sons. In 2014, the couple announced their divorce.

Cynthia is now 60 years old. She has not acted since 1991, deciding to devote herself to children.

Jane Brooker (Lisa Houseman - Baby's sister)

frame from the movie

This was the biggest role in Jane Brooker's career. After that, there were only episodes in the movie Steal a House and in the TV series Doctor, Doctor.

Jane was once misquoted as saying that Dirty Dancing was to blame for the failure of the actress on screen. But in 2012, she denied these words: “I don’t blame Dirty Dancing at all for my dull career.”

“I think Dirty Dancing gave the impression that I was a terrible singer,” added Jane, however. “But I am extremely grateful to have been a part of this film.”

Jane is now 59 years old. She has an adult daughter. Jane does volunteer work. In addition, Brooker co-wrote the songs for the musical Dirty Dancing in 2014.

Jack Weston (Max Kellerman - the owner of the boarding house)

frame from the film

When Dirty Dancing was released, the career of Jack Weston, who was 63 years old at the time, was coming to an end. All the best roles were already behind.

A World War II veteran, Jack began acting on television in serials. He has also appeared in big movies: Caught on the Stage, where Oscar-winning Henry Fonda was his partner, Imitation of Life with Lana Turner and Sandra Dee, Please Don't Eat Daisies! with Doris Day and in the film "All the Work for One Night".

Weston also starred in films with Jerry Lewis, Audrey Hepburn, Goldie Hawn, Sean Connery and other movie stars, played on Broadway.

After Dirty Dancing, Weston played only two small roles in Ishtar and Short Circuit 2 in the late 80s.

He died in 1996 at the age of 72 from lymphoma.

Lonnie Price (Neil Kellerman - the grandson of the owner of the boarding house)

film frame, Getty Images

Lonnie played a rich boy who tried to charm Baby. Prior to Dancing, Price appeared in the comedy The Muppets in Manhattan. However, the role in "Dirty Dancing" has become the most famous of Price's entire career. Then there were roles in TV shows, including two episodes of Law & Order.

He also made a name for himself on Broadway as a screenwriter and director.

Today, 58-year-old Lonnie is on the other side of the cell. He directed several episodes of Desperate Housewives, 2 Broke Girls, and Live at Lincoln Center.


Max Cantor (Roby Gold-Student and waiter)


MAKS, who played in the Medical Student film, in fact, Harvard's graduate. Dirty Dancing was Cantor's first film.

Two years later, he starred in one of the main roles in the film Fear, Anxiety and Depression. Unfortunately, this was the actor's last film.

Max went into journalism, started working on drug addiction research in New York. He became addicted to heroin while preparing the materials and died of an overdose in 1991. He was only 32 years old.

Ksenia Voronezhtseva


  • editor's choice

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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See 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, filmed 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.

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.

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.

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