The Time of My Life - Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi
On the 14th September 2009 the star of movies such as "Dirty Dancing", "Road House" and "Next of Kin" Patrick Swayze sadly passed away after a long and often public battle with pancreatic cancer. But just weeks before he passed away and along with his wife Lisa Niemi he completed his memoir "The Time of My Life" and the fact that he did so despite being in advances stages of cancer shows his passion and determination for everything he did.
It was back in January 2008 when Patrick Swayze was delivered the devastating news that he had advanced pancreatic cancer, after feeling a bit unwell and believing he had some form of simple stomach trouble. As you would expect "The Time of My Life" touches on this subject, the diagnosis and his battle to beat the odds and survive until they found a cure for this deadly form of cancer. As we know he sadly didn't but he did survive a lot longer than expected fighting it all the way just as you would expect. But "The Time of My Life" is much more than just about his fight with cancer, it's about his life, his loves, his passion the ups and downs, the battles to be a recognized movie star and his fall into alcoholism and depression as well as much more.
Born in 1952 Patrick soon became immersed into the world of dance, learning his skill at his mum's Patsy's dance school where he would later go on to meet Lisa. But as well as being passionate about dance he also played American Football and what would almost become a recurring theme in Swayze's life he had his first major knock back when he suffered a serious knee injury during a game, something which not only ended his football ambitions but would cause more issues as he pursued his passion for dance and ballet as well as gymnastics leading him eventually to movies.
As such "The Time of My Life" covers the bases when it comes to his movie an TV career giving us a look at such memorable movies such as "Dirty Dancing", "Ghost" and "Roadhouse" as well as several other lesser known but equally good movies. What is nice is that although Swayze goes into detail on various movies, especially his and Lisa's work behind the scenes when it came to rewrites and casting, he doesn't ever come across as being egotistical. His honesty when it came to his performances is charming as well as the working relationships he had with various stars in particular Jennifer Grey who he starred with in more than just "Dirty Dancing".
Another thing which comes across from Swayze's frank look at his own career is his struggle to be taken as a serious actor rather than just the dancer who acts. You get a sense that it got to him that he desired and worked hard to be taken seriously as an actor yet often came up against barriers when it came to producers and directors who didn't want to cast him because of that tag of being a dancer.
Intertwined between all this of course is Swayze's personal relationships such as that with his wife Lisa which went through more ups and downs than you might imagine. Plus his closeness to his father who when he sadly died lead to Swayze's issues with drinking and also depression. As with Swayze's honest approach to his career he is open about the more personal side of his life revealing elements which may take many fans by surprise yet his honesty again wins you over, his admittance of his own faults shows that he had no delusions of grandeur in fact he was a very average guy who although worked hard was also fortunate to make it as a movie star and appreciated that fact.
As with many memoirs there are the unexpected revelations, details on how he got on and sometimes didn't get on with people as well as the various personal problems he suffered. But it never feels forced, it never feels like he's trying to be sensationalist by mentioning something you may not have known. It does make it more interesting to read these revelations but it doesn't become the focal point of "The Time of My Life", which sometimes happens when big name stars delve into their pasts.
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It has to be said that reading the final chapter where Swayze goes into more detail about his battle with cancer whilst making the TV Show "The Beast" is hard going. You get a sense of his enthusiasm for life and that he was striving every day to not only get the most out of it but to beat the cancer. Yet as we know he sadly didn't live much longer after he wrote those words and there is a poignancy to them.
As a whole "The Time of My Life" is a good memoir and will be a must read for those who were fans of Patrick Swayze and his movies. It's easy to read and very honest with no sense of egotism at all as he recounts the ups and downs of his life. Plus as is often the case it features a selection of wonderful photos illustrating those various moments in his life and in his movie career.