Patrick Swayze’s widow recalls their ‘unlikely’ love story years 13 after his death

Lisa Niemi, the surviving wife of the late Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze, has reminisced about the “unlikely start” to their love story.

The pair were married from 1975 until his death at the age of 57 in 2009, 22 months after he was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.

Now, 13 years after the actor’s death, Niemi has teamed up with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to raise money for research “dedicated to fighting the deadly disease”.

Appearing on NBC’s Today show on Friday (28 April) to promote the charity’s big fundraising PurpleStride event in New York, Niemi reflected on her relationship with Swayze.

“We had such an unlikely start because we were both very cautious because he had this reputation of being a casanova, and they thought I was this quiet bad girl,” Niemi remembered.

“Our first contact was he reached over and pinched me on the butt and said, ‘Hey cutie,’” she recounted. “And I’m like, ‘Oh brother,’ but needless to say, we went out with each other anyway, despite each other’s reputations, and grew to know each other.”

Niemi posited their connection was due to them both being “a little different than everybody else”.

Lisa Niemi and Patrick Swayze (Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
Lisa Niemi and Patrick Swayze (Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)

“And we kind of understood that about each other, and we ended up falling in love,” she added.

She went on to call Swayze “the hero”, adding: “The man could do anything, he was so talented – jumping out of planes, riding horses, piloting an aircraft – and, of course, his acting.”

Noting his “incredible career”, she listed off some of his hit films: Dirty Dancing, Ghost, Point Break and Road House.

Niemi identified the iconic scene in Point Break when Swayze falls out of the back of an aeroplane and says, “Audios amigo,” as “quintessential Patrick”.

She compared him to Tom Cruise, explaining that Swayze “loved to do his own stunts”.

PurpleStride will take place on Saturday (29 April) in New York and in 60 other events across America.