While fans know all about Patrick Swayze and his iconic films, they don’t know much about his family — however, thanks to an upcoming documentary on the late actor, we know how much of an impact his loved ones had on him.
The Dirty Dancing star was born to Patsy and Jesse Wayne Swayze in 1952, and his mom — who was a dance instructor and choreographer — was quite rough on the A-lister. “Patrick loved his mother, she drove him crazy but she was the task master that gave him his drive, that gave him is work ethic,” Patrick’s manager, Kate Edwards, says on the Paramount Network doc, I Am Patrick Swayze, airing Sunday August 18.
“Patsy was a force to be reckoned with, she was a force of nature,” Kate adds. Even Patrick’s brother, Don Swayze, saw how his mom treated his sibling. “He always thought mom was so strict and hard on him, and the way I saw it was she just used that to spur him on,” Don explains. “He was everything to my mother. When he would leave the room she would turn to the person text to her and just brag, ‘That’s my beautiful, oldest son, isn’t he wonderful!'”
Don continues, adding that their dad was key in Patrick’s life too. “Pleasing Mom and Dad was important to my brother. He had Mom with the dance and theatre expectations, but Dad who had always kept us grounded,” he says. “I think it was important for my big brother to show Dad that, still grounded Dad, still a chip off the old block. My father died very suddenly. Patrick was real quiet when my father died, he was like stunned.”
“My older brother started drinking and instead of going the other way, he sort of went down the path that my father went down. He would have a few drinks himself, start tearing ass in his Delorian on the windy streets of Mulholland,” Don reveals. Lisa Niemi, Patrick’s wife from 1975 until his death in 2009, also recalls this time in her husband’s life.
“He was in a really bad way and it was dangerous with him driving. Of course it was very upsetting for me to see him hurting himself this way.”
It is quite clear that Patrick took his father’s death hard, and it took him some time to get back on top of things. “Everything that he had wanted to accomplish, he didn’t even know if he wanted to do it anymore, because everything he was doing was for my father,” Don says. “It was like yanking the rug out from under him.”
While Patrick would lose his father, he still had the support of other loved ones, including his wife. “It was a big risk [to get married], because we were both so young — we had some bumps along the way but we were definitely stronger together. That became very clear very quickly,” Lisa gushes in the doc.
A park bench dedicated to him and his family has since been installed in “All Abilities Park” in Oak Forest Park, Houston, Texas.