September 15, 2009 / 6:44 PM / 10 years ago

Hollywood mourns Swayze, salutes his courage

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Patrick Swayze’s “Dirty Dancing” co-star Jennifer Grey recalled “being in his arms when we were kids” as Hollywood stars and movie fans alike on Tuesday mourned the actor’s death at the age of 57.

Swayze, who continued to work long after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer nearly two years ago, even starring in a new cable TV series “The Beast,” succumbed to his illness on Monday at his home, surrounded by family, his publicist said.

As tributes mounted, many from entertainment peers saluting his courage in the face of the disease, the Hollywood Historic Trust said it would honor Swayze by placing flowers on his Hollywood Walk of Fame star on Tuesday.

Fans, such as Nicole Stahl, began gathering at the sidewalk plaque shortly after news of his death surfaced.

“It’s a bad day in Hollywood history. That was a great actor. I mean, you have ‘Dirty Dancing,’ ‘Roadhouse,’ and ‘Ghost,’” Stahl said. “Those were three all-time best movies.”

The outpouring of grief dimmed the mood on the red carpet at the Toronto Film Festival, where former co-star Rob Lowe said Swayze “lived a thousand lifetimes in one life,” adding, “He played my brother twice and so I feel like I lost a brother tonight.”

Grey, 49, his co-star in the 1987 breakout hit “Dirty Dancing,” remembered the Texas-born Swayze as a “rare and beautiful combination of raw masculinity and amazing grace.”

“Gorgeous and strong, he was a real cowboy with a tender heart,” said Grey, who played opposite Swayze as a shy teenager, Frances “Baby” Houseman, who falls for his character, sexy dance instructor Johnny Castle, in the small-budget film.

“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,” Grey said.

She added: “I think of being in his arms when we were kids, dancing, practicing the lift in the freezing lake, having a blast doing this tiny little movie we thought no one would ever see.”

Swayze earned another Golden Globe nomination for his role as Demi Moore’s deceased lover, Sam, in the 1990 love story “Ghost.”

“Patrick you are loved by so many, and your light will forever shine in all of our lives,” Moore said in a statement.

His other “Ghost” co-star, Whoopi Goldberg, who won an Oscar for playing the psychic who helps Sam’s spirit reconnect with Moore’s character, remembered him as 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,” Goldberg said.

Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Alison Williams

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