Jennifer Grey: Patrick Swayze 'didn't want to say' his famous 'Dirty Dancing' line
Patrick Swayze delivered the line so seamlessly as Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing—"Nobody puts Baby in the corner"—you'd never know that he originally thought "it sounded so corny," as he wrote in his 2009 autobiography The Time of My Life.
"Patrick didn't want to say it, and I didn't blame him!" Jennifer Grey, who played Frances "Baby" Houseman in the 1987 classic, told Yahoo Entertainment in a recent interview.
"He did really great by it," Grey continued. "For some reason there are certain things that feel bad when you're doing them, [but] you have no idea how they'll resonate in the world. [That line] means so many things to so many people: There are so many ways that we put ourselves in the corner or we think other people are putting us in the corner, and unless we agree with them that we belong in the corner, then they really can't—they don't have that kind of power. But you have to be able to recognize that you don't belong there."
Dirty Dancing, of course, followed Baby as she spent her summer with her uptight family at a posh resort in upstate New York. She fell in love with Johnny, the resort's dance instructor, when she filled in for his usual dance partner. Baby's father, Dr. Jake Houseman (Jerry Orbach), doesn't approve, but as we now know, "Nobody puts Baby in the corner."
"I don't think anybody thought it was too great a line," Eleanor Bergstein, the writer of Dirty Dancing, told the Huffington Post in 2017. "Patrick didn't want to say it, but I just said, 'Well, just say it once and then the next time, just go up and do the speech and maybe we won't use it.' But we decided to use it."
"Seeing the finished film, I had to admit it worked," Swayze wrote in his book. "And of course it became one of the most quoted lines in the movie. I quote a version of it myself these days, saying, 'Nobody puts Patrick's pancreas in a corner,' when people ask how I'm coping with cancer."
Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2008 and died in September 2009 at 57 years old.