Actor Patrick Swayze has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. The 57-year-old Ghost and Dirty Dancing star passed away in Los Angeles on Monday (September 14, 2009), confirms his publicist, Annett Wolf. She says, "Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months." Swayze went public with his pancreatic cancer battle in early 2008 and underwent regular bouts of chemotherapy as he repeatedly denied tabloid reports he was close to death after learning the cancer had spread to his liver. In May 2008, Swayze slammed the media for spreading the false information, stating, "Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive disease and from the moment I was diagnosed, I knew I was in for the fight of my life. It's a battle, and so far, I've been winning. I'm one of the lucky few that responds well to treatment. It's upsetting that the shoddy and reckless reporting from these publications cast a negative shadow on the positive and good fight I'm fighting. For me, my family, and those close to me, it amounts to downright emotional cruelty. That makes me angry when hope is so precious."
He was dealt a setback in January when he contracted pneumonia, and new claims of Swayze's deteriorating health surfaced again in May when the National Enquirer alleged the actor had stopped chemotherapy after suffering a lung infection. The publication reported the star went against doctors' advice to undergo life-saving surgery to remove part of the infected lung, refusing the risky procedure in favor of living out his final days pain-free. Born in Houston, Texas, Swayze moved to New York to train as a professional ballet dancer before taking the lead role of Danny Zuko in the Broadway production of hit musical Grease. He had bit parts on TV in shows like M*A*S*H and then broke into movies with a leading role in Francis Ford Coppola's cult hit The Outsiders in 1983. But it was Swazye's role as dance instructor Johnny Castle in 1987's Dirty Dancing that catapulted him into the Hollywood A-list. He also established himself as a recording artist, performing the song he co-wrote for the movie's soundtrack, She's Like The Wind, which earned him a top 10 hit in the U.S. He matched his Dirty Dancing success three years later in Ghost, opposite Demi Moore, and also found big screen acclaim in cult movies Point Break and Road House.
In 1991, he was named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive - and tested his hunk status in 1995 by playing a drag queen on a road trip in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, which earned him his third Golden Globe nomination. The new century brought him small parts in films like Donny Darko and he wrapped up his career with a lead role in TV cop drama The Beast, which he concluded as be battled cancer. One of his most moving appearances came during the Stand Up To Cancer fundraiser a year ago when he made an emotional appeal for donations to further cancer research, saying: "I dream that the word 'cure' will no longer be followed by the words 'it's impossible.' Together, we can make a world where cancer no longer means living with fear, without hope, or worse."
The actor is survived by his high school sweetheart, Lisa Niemi, who he wed in 1975.