May 12, 2009 / 6:42 PM / 10 years ago

New Swayze biography details battle with cancer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new biography of Patrick Swayze released on Tuesday describes how the actor worked 12 hour days without pain killers to shoot a TV series after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Patrick Swayze attends the fan screening of "Mission: Impossible III" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood May 4, 2006. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The biography, called “Patrick Swayze: One Last Dance,” says Swayze was determined to work as hard as ever on the U.S. TV crime drama “The Beast,” despite being diagnosed in early 2008 with pancreatic cancer, which has a less than five per cent chance of survival.

“His work ethic was such that even though he was in terrible pain during the shooting of ‘The Beast,’ he took only one day off and refused to take pain killers,” said the biography’s author Wendy Leigh. “He didn’t want anything at all to befuddle his acting performance or his mind.”

In the book one of the show’s producer recalls how Swayze, who rose to fame showing off his brawny physique playing a dance instructor in the hit 1987 movie “Dirty Dancing,” told producers he had some “horrible news” but would go on with the show.

“He said: I’m in great condition. I’m a cowboy. I’m a dancer. I’ll beat this,” producer Jamie Erlicht is quoted as saying in the book.

Since then, Swayze, 56, told Barbara Walters in an interview that aired in January he was “going through hell” and fans were shocked when Walters asked how long he had to live.

“He actually asked Barbara Walters to ask him that heartbreaking question,” Leigh said. “Because Patrick wants it all out there, he has always been open-hearted.”

The book also covers Swayze’s upbringing in Texas and former ambitions as a professional dancer and football player.

It points to his other pivotal role in the 1990 movie “Ghost,” and says on the set of “Dirty Dancing” he was disgruntled that he had to tone down his dancing and that co-star Jennifer Grey was not as accomplished a dancer.

The book, which is unauthorized and does not include interviews with Swayze, affirms his dislike of a line from that film, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” which has been voted in various polls as one of the worst lines in film history.

Swayze and his wife Lisa Niemi are currently working on their own memoir.

editing by Claudia Parsons

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