In the wake of standard tough-guy roles in The Outsiders (1983) and Red Dawn (1984), he was finally able to put his dancing skills to use in the sleeper sensation Dirty Dancing (1987) -- a performance that earned him his first Golden Globe nomination. Swayze followed this triumph with leading roles in Road House (1989), the blockbuster Ghost (1990) and the action hit Point Break (1991).
Attempting to avoid typecasting as a good ol' boy, Swayze went on to tackle a range of films, including City of Joy (1992), Tall Tale (1995), To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995) and Donnie Darko (2001). He died Sept. 14, 2009, from cancer. His last credit was as Charles Barker in the TV crime series "The Beast."