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It has been 35 years since the iconic film “Dirty Dancing” first premiered on the big screen and became an instant hit. Not even the film’s stars or studio executives predicted the film’s massive success. In fact, they nearly scrapped the idea of a theatrical release in favor of a straight-to-video release.
Thankfully that didn’t happen, and after 44 days of shooting, the classic movie hit theaters.
“It was lightning in a bottle, it’s like this thing happened, and it’s so beautiful, and I can’t explain it,” “Dirty Dancing” star Jennifer Grey told People in April.
“’Dirty Dancing’ was a fairy tale, a successful movie and formula, using dance as a metaphor for embodying your energy and getting out of your head and your limiting belief systems.”
Here is what the stars of the film are up to 35 years later.
Jennifer Grey had her breakthrough role in the 1986 film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” but achieved worldwide fame when she starred as Frances “Baby” Houseman in the 1987 hit “Dirty Dancing.” The role earned Grey a Golden Globe nomination and propelled her to stardom.
She returned to the big screen the following year alongside Matt Damon in “Bloodhounds of Broadway,” working on films consistently throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Throughout this time, she also appeared in a number of television shows, including “Dancing with the Stars” in 2010, where she ultimately took first place.
In July 2001, Grey married actor/director Clark Gregg. After nearly 20 years together, they announced their separation in January 2020 and officially divorced in February 2021. They have one daughter.
After a number of small television roles, Patrick Swayze first became known to the public in “The Outsiders” in 1973. But his breakthrough role was Johnny Castle in “Dirty Dancing.” His performance in the film earned him his first of three Golden Globe nominations. He also wrote a top 10 hit, “She’s Like the Wind,” which was on the movie’s soundtrack.
His next role was in the 1990 hit “Ghost” alongside Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, a role that also earned him a Golden Globe nomination. That was followed by the 1991 hit “Point Break.” After many successful films, Swayze was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997.
Swayze was married to wife Lisa Niemi 34 years. They met in 1970 when he was 18 and she was 14 and got married in 1975. In January 2008, Swayze was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He died in September 2009.
Cynthia Rhodes started her career as a dancer, appearing in a number of dance-related movies such as “Flashdance” and “Staying Alive,” but her most notable role was that of dance instructor Penny Johnson in “Dirty Dancing.”
Her next film after “Dirty Dancing,” called “Curse of the Crystal Eye,” was also her last. Rhodes mainly starred in music videos after that and, at one point, was part of the girl group Animotion.
Rhodes met her husband in 1983 while working on “Staying Alive” and got married a few years later in January 1989. The couple had three sons together but ultimately announced they were getting a divorce in April 2014 after 25 years of marriage.
Kelly Bishop was already an established stage actress before appearing in “Dirty Dancing” as Marjorie Houseman. She originated the role of Sheila in “A Chorus Line” on Broadway and won a Tony Award for Best Supporting or Featured Actress in a musical.
After her role in “Dirty Dancing,” Bishop appeared in a number of films, including “An Unmarried Woman,” “Queens Logic” and “Miami Rhapsody.” Her most notable role was that of Emily Gilmore on “Gilmore Girls,” which she starred in from 2000-2007, even returning for the show’s 2016 Netflix revival, “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.”
She reunited with “Gilmore Girls” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino in 2012 for her new show “Bunheads,” which was canceled after one season. Bishop was married to talk show host Lee Leonard from 1981 until his death in 2018.
Prior to landing his supporting role of Dr. Jake Houseman in “Dirty Dancing,” Jerry Orbach was an accomplished Broadway actor, transitioning to film and television in the 1980s.
Post “Dirty Dancing,” Orbach lent his voice to the Academy Award-winning animated Disney film “Beauty and the Beast,” acting as the candlestick Lumière. Orbach then joined the cast of “Law & Order” in its third season, staying on for 11 ½ seasons.
Orbach was married to his first wife Marta Curro for 17 years and had two sons with her before divorcing in 1975. He married his second wife Elaine Cancilla in 1979 and was with her until his death from prostate cancer in 2004. He was first diagnosed in 1994 and battled the disease for 10 years before dying at the age of 69.
Jane Brucker’s most notable role is that of Lisa Houseman, Baby’s older sister, in “Dirty Dancing.” She later made appearances in films such as “Stealing Home,” “Doctor Doctor” and “Bloodhounds of Broadway.”
Brucker helped co-write the song “Hula Hana” that her character sings during the talent show in the film.
She married her first husband Brian O’Connor in 1986 and had a daughter with him before divorcing in 1993. She later married wedding photographer Raul Vega and had another daughter with him.
Max Cantor appeared in “Dirty Dancing” as Robbie, a waiter at the resort who is dating Baby’s sister Lisa. Later on in the film, we learn Robbie got Penny pregnant and left her to figure things out on her own.
Cantor appeared in one more film in 1989, “Fear, Anxiety & Depression.” He also worked as a journalist, writing for The Village Voice about a potential cure for heroin addiction addiction.
Cantor died in 1991 of a drug overdose. He was 32.