“Dirty Dancing” was a hit from the moment it lit up the screen, and 25 years later, fans are still singing the songs, quoting infamous lines, and falling in love all over again with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.
It had an unrivaled soundtrack which brought the music of the ’50s and ’60s to a whole new generation. It inspired pre-teen girls to copy Baby’s moves to “Wipeout” and practice “the lift” in the pool over the summer with their friends (just me?). It was a phenomenon, and it almost didn’t happen.
Although the movie likely would have been made either way, it almost had a very different cast. Patrick Swayze wrote in his memoir, The Time Of My Life, that he’d made a film called “Skatetown USA” in 1979 which drew a lot of comparisons to John Travolta’s role in “Saturday Night Fever”, and he was afraid if he accepted another role in a dance movie, he would be pigeonholed for the rest of his career. Luckily for us, he changed his mind, because the other candidates for Johnny Castle were Billy Zane and Val Kilmer. And Sarah Jessica Parker might have been Baby instead of Jennifer Grey.
Thanks to the onscreen chemistry of Swayze and Grey–who famously didn’t always get along–and the tireless energy of the many dancers who brought the film to life, the movie was a huge success and still has hardcore fans to this day. In fact, Conan O’Brien loves it so much, he started a campaign on his show to get the movie back into theaters. It ended up being a huge success, bringing in $500,000 for the studio after being released in just 54 theaters.