American actor Patrick Swayze’s long-term wife, Lisa Niemi, has revealed the last words he spoke to her before slipping into a coma. Find out what he told her.
Patrick Swayze was an actor, dancer, and singer recognized for some of the distinctive lead roles he played in his lifetime. Some of the hit films he starred in include “Ghost,” “To Wong Foo,” “Thanks for Everything,” and “Point Break.”
Besides being a star actor, Swayze was married to his wife Lisa Niemi for 34 years. During their three-decade-long marriage, she stood by him through all the tragedies he faced in his lifetime.
Portrait of late actor Patrick Swayze. [Left] | Photo of actor Patrick Swayze kissing his lifetime partner Lisa Niemi. [Right] | Photo: Getty Images
Also, Niemi was by Swayze’s side when he died and was present when he spoke his last words before slipping into a coma. Discover what those words were and everything to know about Swayze’s life and final months.
HOW PATRICK SWAYZE MET LISA NIEMI
In a Daily Mail article that excerpted Niemi’s book “Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss, and Moving Forward,” she described her first meeting with Swayze.
Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi photographed circa 1985. | Photo: Getty Images
She first laid eyes on him at Houston Music Theater when she was 14. Then, Swayze’s mom’s dance school merged with Niemi’s theater group. Niemi described Swayze thus:
“Patrick was tanned, buff, had a dazzling smile and a reputation as a Casanova. I wasn’t just a wallflower; I was an expert, practised wallflower.”
Their first contact was when they passed each other while coming in and out of the theater. Swayze reached over and pinched Niemi on her bottom.
Patrick Swayze and his wife Lisa Niemi pose at the Portrait Studio during the AFI Fest on November 5, 2005, in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images
Afterward, he greeted her in a friendly and mischievous tone, saying, “Hey there, cutie.” However, Niemi said, “Oh, brother,” before rolling her eyes and passing him.
Niemi wrote that the whole idea of marrying Swayze came about abruptly. Five years after they met, they started talking about the future, but most of their conversations bordered on what they wanted as professional dancers.
The pair were living together in a tiny apartment in New York City. Niemi revealed that they were in the middle of a tickling fight when Swayze put his arms around her.
Lisa Niemi (L) and actor Patrick Swayze speak onstage during the 9th annual Costume Designers Guild Awards held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on February 17, 2007 in Beverly Hills, California. | Photo: Getty Images
When she asked what the issue was, his face flushed. Then he asked, “Why don’t we do it? Why don’t we get married?” The lovebirds tied the knot on June 12, 1975.
SERIOUS INJURY AND DAD’S DEATH
Swayze was raised in Texas and learned how to dance from his mom, Patsy, the Houston Jazz and Ballet Company founder. Patsy was a perfectionist and influenced her son. Swayze’s friend Frank Whiteley said:
“His mother was constantly telling him ‘You need to be perfect’ and this was the driving force in his entire life.”
A portrait of the actor Patrick Swayze, in 1982. | Photo: Getty Images
Meanwhile, Swayze’s dad, Don, known as Big Buddy, was a rodeo rider and amateur boxer. Swayze described his dad as a gentle cowboy in his autobiography, saying:
“He was the rock our family was built on. A steady and stable presence in our lives. In some ways we were nurtured more by my father than by my mother.”
Besides being an excellent ballet dancer thanks to his mother’s teaching, Swayze was also great at sports. He desired to get a football scholarship but had those dreams cut short after suffering a horrific knee injury on the field at 18.
Patrick Swayze on the set of “The Outsiders”, circa 1982. | Photo: Getty Images
Following the injury, doctors told Swayze he would never walk normally again. However, he was determined to prove the doctors wrong and began ballet classes as rehabilitation.
Eventually, Swayze had to abandon his dreams of having a career in ballet due to a terrible infection in his injured knee. He found it hard to cope without ballet and later said:
“Leaving the ballet created a void in me that I spent years trying to fill.”
American actors Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey star in the film ‘Dirty Dancing’, 1987. | Photo: Getty Images
After being forced to end his ballet career, a devastated Swayze turned to acting. He moved to Los Angeles and impressed critics and filmgoers in his first movie “Skatetown USA.” Eventually, the role led to the TV series “The Renegades.”
Just as Swayze’s career was set to take off, he suffered another heartbreak following his beloved father’s sudden death after a heart attack. It was in 1982, and Don was 57. Swayze felt bottomless pain after his dad’s death, and he became a heavy drinker. He wrote:
“I’d never been much of a drinker but one of the first things I did after my dad died was buy a case of his favourite beer, Budweiser.”
American actor Patrick Swayze (1952 – 2009), circa 1990. | Photo: Getty Images
Swayze hated the beer’s taste but drank much of it nonetheless in a bid to get drunk. However, no matter how much he drank, he could not stop the pain. Thus, he continued drinking.
Swayze’s breakdown marked the start of his lifelong battle with alcohol and depression. His former agent Kate Edwards said he found a way to cope with his dad’s death, but his way of doing so became self-destructive.
Edwards further explained that Swayze did not know where to place or put his grief. Also, he did not really know what to do and how to cope.
Patrick Swayze attends Stand Up To Cancer at the Kodak Theatre on September 5, 2008 in Hollywood, California. | Photo: Getty Images
PATRICK LONGED TO BE A FATHER, BUT IT NEVER HAPPENED
Throughout their 34-year marriage, Swayze and Niemi never became parents. However, it was not because they never wanted to.
During the Paramount Network documentary, “I Am Patrick Swayze,” in August 2019, Niemi revealed her and her late husband’s love for kids and revealed per Closer Weekly:
“Both of us loved kids and always intended to have kids. I did become pregnant but I had a miscarriage. Who knew that miscarriages were as painful as they are, emotionally painful. It was very heartbreaking.”
Actor Patrick Swayze appears at Borders Bookstore to sign copies of his new movie “One Last Dance” August 24, 2005 in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images
After starring in “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost,” Swayze excelled in his career, but tragedy struck in 1990 when Niemi suffered a miscarriage. In his autobiography, he wrote:
“I’d been so excited that day, so thrilled at going to see my baby’s heartbeat, and he was dead. I couldn’t handle it. When we got to the parking lot Lisa and I both wept bitterly, holding each other tight.”
He added, “I grieved like I hadn’t done in years since my father died. Even now, neither of us can talk about that day without tearing up.”
Swayze’s depression and alcoholism reached new heights after taking up a role in “Father Hood.” In the film, he portrayed a crime boss learning to be a father and reached a crisis point afterward.
Swayze was drinking so much that he passed out several times during filming that he had to be woken up to continue. However, he got through the movie and decided he needed to take care of things.
On a Monday afternoon, doctors told Niemi they had come to that point.
PATRICK’S BATTLE WITH ADDICTION AND SCARY DIAGNOSIS
Despite Swayze’s best attempts to take care of things, his depression remained. Also, he battled with his sex symbol image and desperately wanted people to take him seriously as an actor.
However, his career started dwindling in the 1990s, and he experienced yet another tragedy when his sister Vicky killed herself in 1994.
In 1997, Swayze was almost paralyzed after being thrown from a horse. He broke both legs as a result and found succor in the bottle.
Patrick Swayze on January 29, 1996 in Sydney, Australia. | Photo: Getty Images
Swayze could look okay for months but would suddenly get triggered, especially when the conversation of being a father came up.
His relationship with Niemi also suffered because of his issues, and they briefly split in 2004. However, a career break and the purchase of a remote ranch in New Mexico brought the couple back together.
Swayze devoted his time to riding horses and seemed happier, but his happiness did not last as he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008.
Patrick Swayze dances with Lisa Niemi during the 1994 World Music Awards on May 4, 1994. | Photo: Getty Images
Niemi detailed how they found out about his diagnosis in her article for Daily Mail. She said they were at a friend’s place on New Year’s Eve 2008. After raising glasses for a toast, Swayze grimaced but said nothing.
The following week, he came to her and asked if his eyes looked yellow. She confirmed they did and suggested they go to the doctor.
Tests and scans revealed Swayze had a mass on the head of his pancreas. Later, hospital test results showed he had pancreatic cancer.
Patrick Swayze poses for some portrait shots with his wife Lisa Niemi, circa 1980s. | Photo: Getty Images
However, Swayze did not know immediately as Niemi found out before him and did not tell him about it. The next morning, a young surgeon revealed the diagnosis to Swayze, who looked quickly at his wife, with alarm rising in his eyes.
In an interview with ET, Niemi described Swayze’s battle with the disease as the worst thing in the world to go through. She said:
“You spend every day fighting for that person’s life. I know that he spent every day fighting for his own…He survived 22 months, which was miraculous with the diagnosis that he received.”
PATRICK SWAYZE’S LAST MONTHS OF LIFE AND FINAL WORDS
In the Daily Mail article, Niemi revealed that on June 12, 2008, she and Swayze were on their ranch in New Mexico for their 33rd wedding anniversary.
She said they started spending as much time together as they could once he felt better and his treatment was stable.
For their anniversary, she made picnic food that she could heat over a fire, and they went to their favorite camping spot. They had lunch and enjoyed the afternoon, watching the sunset with the smell of warm pine around them.
Patrick Swayze and wife Lisa Niemi pose at the premiere of “Rocky Balboa” on December 13, 2006, in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images
The couple joined friends at the “Burro Pasture” to round up all the cattle in late June. It involved doctoring and branding the new calves near the Tecolote river.
Swayze wore his cowboy gear and chaps and jumped on a horse before roping and bringing the calves for treatment.
Soon, it started raining, and Swayze was soaked to the bone. The couple was wet and cold as they hurriedly loaded the horses, grabbed their overcoats, and got into their cars.
However, they were having fun, and Niemi was laughing inside because her husband was not supposed to be alive, but there he was doing ranch work and fully living his life.
She wrote that despite her husband’s illness and the discomfort, Swayze remained determined to continue working on “The Beast,” a new television detective series filmed in Chicago. The project turned out to be an amazing experience and inspired many people.
Niemi further wrote that Swayze was transformed by the series and was like a different man. His enormous burst of energy flooded her as he seemed like his old take-charge self and went non-stop. She was happy to have him back.
Also, Swayze was determined for the show not to make his role less demanding and came back one day angry that they had asked a stuntman to perform a stunt meant for him. In September, he turned to Niemi with hope in his eyes and said:
“I’ve been feeling so good… I almost feel normal.”
Then came the time Swayze had to lose his hair. Niemi went to the barn, got a pair of horse clippers and a size-15 blade, and cut her husband’s hair. Afterward, she thought he looked great and beautiful every time she looked at him.
Swayze was on Abraxane, a chemo drug used for breast cancer. As soon as he was on the drug, his blood and scans improved immediately. However, he was spending more time in bed feeling unwell and had an increased abdominal discomfort.
Doctors warned about rolling infections. Chemotherapy could not cure Swayze. His best hope was living long enough for the advent of better treatment. However, nothing was forthcoming.
By September 2009, Swayze was not well enough to cope with chemotherapy and became gravely ill again. Doctors told Niemi they had come to that point on a Monday afternoon.
Niemi knew she had to let go, or it would have shredded her heart. She felt as though she had failed, and the only way to bear it was always to remind herself that it was not about her but her and Swayze’s love.
Niemi revealed Swayze spoke his last words on a Friday evening. Her brother, Eric, and his wife, Mary, had come to see him through the bedroom door. A woozy Swayze saw them and was pleased and said hi to them. Niemi wrote:
“My last words to Patrick? ‘I love you,’ and those were his last words to me. After I brought him home, things went very fast.”
Niemi explained that Swayze was already in a semi-coma but slipped fully into it late Friday night. They still talked to him and sat with him.
She cherished their time alone during which she held his hand, listened to music, slept with her arm around him and her head on his shoulder, all without saying a word.
On the morning of September 14, 2009, Niemi looked at Swayze’s face and listened to the tiny sips of air he was taking. She noticed something delicate and childlike about it and knew it was time.
She did not want to leave the room because she was scared she would suddenly become afraid. Instead, she lay back at his side, held his hand, and felt his pulse again, and then he stopped breathing. Niemi wrote:
“It was 10 o’clock in the morning. He’d used every last bit of that body and he needed to leave it behind.”
Niemi and Swayze went through many hardships together. However, despite everything they endured, they loved and cherished each other until the end. Niemi has since remarried Albert DePrisco, a jeweler, with whom she tied the knot on May 25, 2014.