In this iconic 1980s film, Swayze plays Johnny Castle, a hardscrabble dancing instructor who teaches naive teen Baby Houseman (Jennifer Grey) how to dance — and assert herself as a young woman.
2 of 10 Paramount Pictures
Sam (Swayze), the recently departed husband of Molly (Demi Moore), communes with the living with the help of a wacky medium (Whoopi Goldberg) and one sexy pottery wheel in this romantic drama.
3 of 10 MGM
Red Dawn (1984)
Jed Eckert (Swayze) leads the Wolverines, an underground resistance movement in Michigan when the Soviet Union invades the United States in an alternate 1980s timeline. C. Thomas Howell and Charlie Sheen (pictured) and Jennifer Grey co-star.
4 of 10 ABC/Retna
North and South and North and South, Book II (1985 and 1986)
Orry Main (Swayze) a West Point Cadet from Charleston, S.C., and his classmate, George Hazard (James Read), negotiate a friendship across the Mason-Dixon line in ABC's miniseries and its sequel, based on the blockbuster novels by John Jakes.
5 of 10 Warner Bros./Everett Collection
The Outsiders (1983)
In the drama based on S.E. Hinton's popular novel, Swayze plays Dallas Winston, a father figure of sorts to a band of 1960s Tulsa street toughs. It's often thought of as the first Brat Pack movie, as it costars a litany of future stars, including Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, Tom Cruise and Diane Lane.
6 of 10 Richard Foreman/20th Century Fox/Kobal Collection
Point Break (1991)
As Bodhi, the leader of a gang of surfers, Swayze taught Keanu Reeves, who played undercover FBI agent Johnny Utah, the dudespeak that later made him a star.
7 of 10 United Artists
Road House (1989)
James Dalton (Swayze) is a philosophy-spouting bouncer whose attempts to clean up a violent nightclub in Jasper, Missouri, landing him in the hospital and in love — with co-star Kelly Lynch. Sam Elliott also co-stars as Dalton's mentor.
8 of 10 Everett Collection
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)
Drag queen Vida Bohemme (yes, Swayze) and her cohorts Chi-Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo) and Noxeema Jones (Wesley Snipes) break down in a podunk town on a cross-country road trip, where they teach lessons of tolerance and make things all the more fabulous for their presence.
9 of 10 Newmarket/Everett Collection
Donnie Darko (2001)
In a dramatic departure from his romantic and action roles, Swayze plays Jim Cunningham, a motivational speaker with a cache of child pornography in his basement in this time-space-continuum-bending head-tripper.
10 of 10 Chuck Hodes/A&E
The Beast (2009)
This A&E series, which ran for one season, will be remembered as the show that Swayze, as rule-bending FBI agent Charles Barker, continued to work on even after his pancreatic-cancer diagnosis. Travis Fimmel co-stars as Ellis Dove, Barker's unwitting partner.