His breakthrough role was as snake-hipped dance instructor Johnny Castle in 1987 Oscar-winning film Dirty Dancing, and today those involved with the West End stage version of the show paid tribute to the actor.
A statement on behalf of Eleanor Bergstein, writer and co-producer, and the company read: “The cast and crew of Dirty Dancing join the loving fans of Patrick Swayze all over the world in shock and sorrow at the loss of a great artist and courageous man. We are grateful for the inspiration his great spirit has given to us. We send our deepest condolences to his family.”
The son of a choreographer, Swayze trained as a ballet dancer and appeared on stage in the Broadway production of Grease and the short-lived musical Goodtime Charley before finding international fame in Hollywood. In addition to Dirty Dancing, in which he became an international pin-up as holiday camp dance instructor Johnny Castle to Jennifer Grey’s teenaged Baby, his film credits include Ghost, Point Break, City of Joy and the Dirty Dancing prequel Havana Nights.
In 2003 he made a long-awaited return to the stage to play Billy Flynn in the Broadway run of Chicago, and three years later made his West End debut, taking over as Nathan Detroit in Michael Grandage's acclaimed revival of Guys and Dolls. He starred alongside Claire Sweeney as his long-suffering fiancé Miss Adelaide, as well as Adam Cooper and Kelly Price as Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown (See News, 24 Jul 2006).
He went public with his illness last year, but continued working on his memoir as well as the acclaimed TV series The Beast, about a veteran FBI agent, as he underwent treatment.
Jennifer Grey, his Dirty Dancing co-star, said in a statement: "Patrick was a rare and beautiful combination of raw masculinity and amazing grace. Gorgeous and strong, he was a real cowboy with a tender heart.
"He was fearless and insisted on always doing his own stunts, so it was not surprising to me that the war he waged on his cancer was so courageous and dignified."
Swayze leaves behind his wife Lisa Niemi, his childhood sweetheart who he met aged 15 and married in 1975.