Patrick Swayze will always be remembered as one of the best dancers to grace the big screen. A modern-day Gene Kelly, he became a household name after starring in films like Ghost and Roadhouse, and he can thank his mother Patsy for his celebrated career. The late actor grew up taking dance classes with his mother which led to him having the talent to land the lead role in Dirty Dancing, ultimately becoming a major heartthrob in Hollywood. Not only was the dance studio the place that essentially gave Patrick a career, but it's where he met his longtime love, wife Lisa Niemi, who moved with him out to California and was by his side throughout his entire rise to fame.
Patsy Swayze was a talented dancer and choreographer originally based in Houston, Texas. She owned her own dance studio but also was a teacher at the University of Houston for over 10 years and worked as a choreographer for the Houston Playhouse Center and the Houston Youth Symphony and Ballet Company. Outside of her son Patrick, some of her most famous students included Tommy Tune, Debbie Allen, Jaclyn Smith, and Randy Quaid. But Patsy's career would completely change after being hired to choreograph the John Travolta film Urban Cowboy.
"At first he was a little slow at it," Patsy explained to Texas Hot Country Magazine in 1985, describing Travolta learning the two-step. "He's a very methodical person and he wanted to know every detail. He asked a million questions, but once he got the feel of the music, you couldn't stop him. He wanted to practice day and night."
After Urban Cowboy was released in 1980, Patsy and her husband, Jesse Wayne Swayze, moved their five children out to Simi Valley, California. The dance instructor quickly started making a career for herself in Hollywood while enjoying her new home across the country.
In addition to starting her own studio in Simi Valley, Patsy was the choreographer for numerous films including Hope Floats, Liar's Moon, One Last Dance (starring Patrick and his wife Lisa), Younger and Younger, and more.
"She was such a force and a gifted teacher who inspired so many students," Patrick Swayze's widow Lisa Niemi told the Houston Chronicle. "She used to say that the ones who have all the talent aren't necessarily the ones who succeed. It's the ones who work hard. She was a firm believer in persistence and not settling for the destiny you think may have been handed to you."
Patsy passed away in 2013, four years after Patrick lost his battle to pancreatic cancer. She was a dance teacher who was most tough on her son Patrick, but he respected her and they had a positive relationship until the end.
"I think she would say, 'Well, you know, sometimes I could be strict, I'm that kind of a teacher,' " Lisa Niemi recalled to PEOPLE. "She was a complicated woman, intense and an amazing life force. Patrick absolutely loved and respected her."