September 14, 2009, - 11:05 pm
Sad news. Today, actor Patrick Swayze died of pancreatic cancer at his ranch. He was only 57 and bravely, publicly fought the cancer. Although he was unfortunate to be struck by this horrible illness, Swayze was lucky to beat the odds and remain alive for 20 months after being diagnosed with the fatal disease that also took my father after just a few months, as with most of its victims. Sadly, pancreatic cancer is not a “sexy” disease and doesn’t get nearly a fraction of the funding for research that is given to breast cancer, AIDS, and other more “glamorous” or politically popular incurable illnesses.
Patrick Swayze in “Red Dawn” and “North and South”
Although I’ve been a critic of Swayze’s comments about the Mid-East, a pan-Arabist propaganda movie he planned on making, and other issues, I’ve also been a fan from the time I saw him as a Confederate soldier in the TV miniseries (remember those?), “North and South,” and in his best movie ever, as a Wolverine in “Red Dawn,” the 25th anniversary of which was last month. This movie was his most important and an important commentary about fighting for our freedoms. When I was in high school and college, he was very hot and definitely sexy. I’m posting, below, what I wrote when his cancer diagnosis was first made public over a year-and-half ago.
Swayze was not only a talented actor, but a talented singer (had the hit, “She’s Like the Wind” from the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack) and classically-trained ballet dancer, as well. A showman, he had a wide range of roles, from leads in chick flicks (“Dirty Dancing,” “Ghost”) to guy flicks (“Point Break,” “Youngblood,” “Road House,” “Next of Kin”) to just plain bad flicks (“To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar,” in which he was a crossdresser). And he was a Texas cowboy, a licensed pilot, and Arabian horse owner.
But I have to say, my all-time fave Patrick Swayze project was his Saturday Night Live skit auditioning for the Chippendale’s dancer with Chris Farley (videos below). Sadly, now both of them are gone.
Patrick Swayze, Rest In Peace.
The whole thing:
March 6, 2008 – 12:21 pm
On this site, I’ve been extremely critical of actor Patrick Swayze over the years. That includes his drunken piloting of a plane and then covering it up when it crashed, his claim that he knows the Arab world because he raises Arabian horses (in his critique of the Iraq war), his defense of Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic comments, and his promotion of the Islamic Arab Gulf States (including his project to star as and sanitize the true story of an Arab Muslim Sheikh who was kidnapped from his Anglo parents and forcibly converted to Islam). While I was critical, I felt he did these things out of utter ignorance, not malicious intent against America, like, say, Alec Baldwin, Angelina Jolie, or Sean Penn.
Patrick Swayze in “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost”
That said, despite my utter disagreement with his misguided, ill-advised activities and statements, my prayers are with him as he tries to fight pancreatic cancer. Having just lost my beloved father, H.L. Schlussel, MD–Blessed Be His Memory–to this aggressive and largely terminal form of cancer, I know what it is like to watch someone you love know that he will certainly die very soon from this horrible illness.
As an optimist, I hate to be pessimistic on this kind of thing. Anything is possible, and only G-d knows the future. But, even though Swayze’s spokespeople dispute tabloid reports that he has only five weeks to live, the fact is that almost all of those stricken with pancreatic die within five years. And most die within five or six months.
My father, fortunately, outlived that amount of time, which he was given by doctors as the prognosis for the length of the rest of his lifespan. But he, too, died far too quickly and much before his time. Sadly, there is a Jewish gene, which makes it more likely that Ashkenazic Jews (those generally of European heritage) will develop pancreatic cancer in greater percentages than the general population.
I remember that, 24 years ago, Patrick Swayze starred in the great 1984 movie, “Red Dawn,” which showed us what would happen to America in a Communist invasion. That movie, which only recently came out on DVD, was vastly underrated and panned by liberal mainstream media movie critics. But it could easily be remade into “Green Dawn” or “Black Dawn,” an accurate portrayal of what would happen–and may very well happen–when Muslims take over America, as is their declared goal. Hard to believe that movie is nearly a quarter century old.
At the time it came out, we were in the midst of fighting the Soviets and other forces of Communist hegemony in the Cold War. That’s why despite universal critical panning, the movie was a box office success, with Americans paying to see it in droves. It was an important film that embodied the fight Ronald Reagan was preventing in our future by fighting–and beating–it during his Presidency. If only President Bush had done the same in the last 6.5 years, instead of kowtowing to it. Unlike Ronald Reagan, his actions insure that “Black Dawn” will not just be a movie.
From “Red Dawn”:
Soviet Communists Take Over McDonaldsky & Much More
The handsome, talented Swayze was magnificent as the hero who stood for freedom in “Red Dawn.” And he not only starred in big hits like “Dirty Dancing” (which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary), “Ghost,” and the hockey movie, “Youngblood,” but he was a talented, accomplished dancer and singer (don’t forget his hit song, “She’s Like the Wind,” which others pan as cheesy, but which I still like; last year, it was remade into a hit by hip-hoppers). And I loved him as a Confederate soldier in “North & South,” the ’80s ABC Civil War miniseries (remember network miniseries?). He was definitely a showman.
Perhaps his affliction with pancreatic cancer will draw much needed attention to this form of cancer, which has no obvious symptoms, no cure, and does not get the attention other more “sexy” disease, like breast cancer and AIDS, do. There has been very little advance in treatment of pancreatic cancer because it afflicts to few and, therefore, gets little money for research and advancement in finding cures and effective treatments.
Pray for Patrick Swayze. It’s very sad. I hope he recovers and that this is not an obituary. But, unfortunately, the odds are against him. Maybe he will beat them.
**** UPDATE: Trailer from Patrick Swayze’s “Red Dawn” and Patrick Swayze Video/”She’s Like the Wind”:
**** UPDATE #2: Reader Ari says this comment about pain, from “Roadhouse,” is the best line ever delivered by Patrick Swayze:
Tags: 57, actor, Arabian horses, cancer, Chippendale, Chippendale Dancer, Chippendale Dancers, Chippendales, Chippendales Audition, Chris Farley, cowboy, dancer, Dead, Death, Died, Dirty Dancing, Ghost, licensed pilot, Middle East, Next of Kin, pancreatic, pancreatic cancer, Patrick Swayze, Patrick Swayze as a Chippendale, pilot, Point Break, Rest In Peace, RIP, Roadhouse, SAD, sad news, Saturday Night Live, She's Like the Wind, singer, SNL, Texan, Texas, The White Sheik, video, Youngblood