Lisa Niemi’s Deep Love For Patrick Swayze Had Her Remain By Actor’s Side Until His Last Breath

Stories

American actor, dancer, singer, and songwriter Patrick Swayze is remembered for his leading roles in films such as “Road House,” “Point Break,” and many more. Swayze was known for his handsome features and was considered a heartthrob. He was named People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1991.

In 1952, Swayze was born in Houston, Texas, and lived there until he was 20-years-old. His mother was Patsy Swayze, a choreographer and dance instructor. The talented actor studied classical ballet as well as martial arts while in high school. He also played football until he suffered a knee injury that forced him to stop.

The star began his entertainment career as a dancer and went on to perform on Broadway before gracing the silver screen. He received many accolades for his acting, including three Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. In 1997, Swayze was honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

It’s hard to believe that this legendary actor passed away more than a decade ago. A star even before “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost,” Swayze will forever be in our hearts. Unfortunately, Swayze died on September 14, 2009, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. His loving wife of 34 years, Lisa Niemi, was by his side the entire time.

The couple met when they were teenagers and got married in 1975. This was four years before Swayze made his film debut in a roller disco film known as “Skatetown, USA.” The lovebirds were together until Swayze passed away, and Niemi recalled their deep love never wavered. She stayed by her beloved husband’s side until his passing.

Born in Houston, Texas, on August 18, 1952, Swayze was destined to be a dancer and star, as his mother Patsy was the owner of a dance studio in the city. Growing up in the dance world, Swayze learned many styles of dance before moving to New York City to complete his ballet education at the Joffrey Ballet School.

Soon enough, Swayze got the role of Danny Zuko on Broadway, merging his training as a dancer with acting for the first time—a formula that would bring him great success. Small TV roles followed, before his first memorable role as the older brother in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Outsiders.”

It wasn’t until 1987 that he would be propelled to immense fame by “Dirty Dancing.” Released in August of that year, the movie was a surprise hit, as it didn’t feature any big stars, nor did it have a well-known director. It also wasn’t planned to be a big release, rather, it was meant to have a one-week theater release and go direct to video.

Well, didn’t it blow expectations out of the water? “Dirty Dancing” was such a success that it became the first movie to sell more than one million VHS copies. Meanwhile, the film’s soundtrack, a major part of its appeal, was also incredibly successful, with the movie’s main song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” winning both Golden Globe and Academy Awards for Best Original Song, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Duet.

In the end, it earned Swayze a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor and showcased his formal dance training. As well as acting and dancing in the film, Swayze co-wrote and performed a song from the film’s album, “She’s Like the Wind,” which became a top 10 hit and showcased his vocal talents.

With such success, Swayze became a regular Hollywood player, starring in movies such as “Road House,” “Ghost” and “Point Break.” He earned three Golden Globe nominations during his career and numerous other awards and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997.

He continued to act following the peak of his career and even went back to the stage, making his West End debut in London in the musical “Guys and Dolls” in 2006. During this period he also took on more interesting roles such as a motivational speaker in “Donnie Darko,” as well as co-producing and starring in a dance film titled “One Last Dance,” with his wife Niemi. Swayze’s final acting role was as an FBI agent in the television series “The Beast.” He passed away in September 2009.

Swayze’s legacy lives on, not only in his movies that are beloved by many but also by the many people who were lucky enough to have crossed paths with him. This includes his wife Niemi, but also his co-stars. After his death in September 2009, the outpouring of love from his famous friends only confirmed just how wonderful a person he was. Jennifer Grey, Swayze’s co-star in “Dirty Dancing” said, as reported by Entertainment Weekly:

“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.”

Meanwhile, Whoopi Goldberg said of her “Ghost” co-star: “Patrick was a really good man, a funny man and one to whom I owe much that I can’t ever repay. I believe in “Ghost‘s” message, so he’ll always be near.”


Niemi penned a memoir in 2011 titled Worth Fighting For, in which Daily Mail cited that in Niemi’s story, she opened up about Swayze’s last words before he slipped slowly into a coma. “My last words to Patrick? ‘I love you,’ and those were his last words to me. After I brought him home, things went very fast,” Niemi wrote.

It was a Monday morning that Niemi woke up to hear him taking tiny gasps of air. She said that there was an almost childlike feeling about what was happening. She knew that it was his time to go. He slipped away that very day.

A new documentary aired ten years after the actor’s untimely demise called “I Am Patrick Swayze” and also featured Niemi. In the documentary, she talked about her time with Buddy, her nickname for her deceased husband and revealed how she walked out on the stage so long ago and looked into his eyes. It was true love from the start.

The couple met when they were teenagers and got married in 1975. This was four years before Swayze made his film debut in a roller disco film known as “Skatetown, USA.” The lovebirds were together until Swayze died in 2009. Niemi talked to Entertainment Tonight about how awful it was to watch her husband fight cancer.

“It’s the worst thing in the world to go through, you spend every day fighting for that person’s life. I know that he spent every day fighting for his own … He survived 22 months, which was miraculous with the diagnosis that he received.”

The documentary isn’t just about his triumphs. It also takes a close look at his struggles with alcohol abuse. Niemi said he would be fun and bubbly until he was by himself. He would then crash, making their relationship strained and difficult. However, even though there were many challenges to overcome in their marriage, Niemi still loved him.

According to Niemi, Swayze took on a role working on the show “The Beast” while he was fighting pancreatic cancer. She said Swayze was transformed during the role. While he had been spending a lot of time in bed, being in Chicago gave him an amazing burst of energy.

“His enormous burst of energy floored me. He was like his old take-charge self, going non-stop. I got Patrick back. He even showed occasional flashes of ‘star’ behavior, the stuff that would always drive me crazy, like making last-minute, arbitrary demands and suddenly being the unquestionable authority on … just everything in the universe,” Niemi wrote in her memoir.

She also mentioned that Swayze never wanted his job to be easier just because he was diagnosed with cancer. Even when his character was supposed to jump over a wall, he insisted on doing it instead of the stuntman that was hired. Niemi insists that working on the set of the show made Swayze feel stronger and happier despite his diagnosis.

In just a little under two years after the initial diagnosis, Swayze succumbed to pancreatic cancer on September 14th, 2009. “I Am Patrick Swayze” came out on August 18, 2019, which was also the late actor’s birthday. Even ten years later, fans of the handsome star are still eager to learn everything that they can about him.

Niemi also still celebrates Swayze regularly, frequently posting to Instagram to keep his memory alive. Although she remarried in 2014 to jeweler Albert DePrisco, her love of Swayze will never cease.

She told People Magazine in 2014 how her love for both men was never in conflict until DePrisco asked her to marry him. She flipped and flopped on whether to go ahead with the wedding, but ultimately she took a “leap of faith” and decided to do so, telling the magazine:

“Albert knew I still loved Patrick and would always love him, and told me, ‘and I know you love me, and I love you.’ How could I not marry this man? As I had time to process the change my life was going to take, my doubts became less and less, and I became more and more sure.”

Nonetheless, Niemi’s love and dedication to Swayze is still there. She frequently posts about him on her social media and on September 14, 2020, 11 years after his death, she shared a touching post on Instagram that said:

“Celebrating a wonderfully strong, sensitive & special man on the 11th anniversary of his passing. So missed. Can’t help but feel a dark cloud today (and all last week!) 😥, but grateful for what we had together. 🌈 What a journey! Blessed, even with the tears.”

Niemi has even dedicated her time to helping spread awareness in the fight against pancreatic cancer. She also appeared on the show “The Doctors” in 2019 to discuss the cause, as well as posting to her social media during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in November.

Swayze was one-of-a-kind and his decades-long marriage to Niemi was one for the record books. Her dedication to him all throughout his life and even after his passing is a testament to their love.

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