Rest in peace, Patrick Swayze. It’s a measure of the speed of our information age that when I Googled him, 20 minutes after he died of pancreatic cancer on September 14th, his Wikipedia page had already been updated.
Swayze was not Jewish, but his co-star in the movie that made him famous, Jennifer Grey in “Dirty Dancing,” is, and his co-star in his other big hit, Demi Moore in “Ghost” is reportedly a big fan of Kabbalah, at least the monetized, ersatz version purveyed by The Kabbalah Centre.
I loved “Dirty Dancing” when it came out in 1987. The dancing was hot, Swayze was super sexy and, having spent a few weekends at Catskills hotels with my parents, mid-way on the long slope of the resorts’ decline, the setting resonated.
Most of all, though, I loved that the movie featured a young Jewish woman playing a young Jewish woman who looked like a young Jewish woman coming alive.
Unfortunately for her career and for my outsize pride in Jewish celebrities, Grey had a nose job in the early 1990s that transformed her from looking like a very pretty, petite Jewish woman to a moderately pretty anonymous woman. No one recognized her, and she later complained that it ruined her career.
More recently, Ashley Tisdale, a star of the High School Musical Disney franchise, had a nose job and went from looking like a super-cute young woman with a unique look to being yet another generic “plastic surgery face” in Hollywood.
When are actresses (and other Jewish women) finally going to learn that the best look of all is the one that looks like an authentic, real woman?
In “Dirty Dancing,” Patrick Swayze’s character helps Grey’s character become who she really is. Too bad the message didn’t penetrate even skin deep.
Rest in peace, Patrick Swayze. You brought lots of happiness to the screen while you were here. “Dirty Dancing” left another kind of legacy to the Jews as well: it’s theme song, “I Had the Time of my Life,” is still played at the end of most every bar and bat mitzvah party in America.