Actress, Cynthia Rhodes, who played the role of Penny, Johnny’s dance partner, had an unusual dilemma. Perhaps one can call it a constructive problem. Well, Penny had to play a scene where she had to appear to be in agony. The abortion subplot in the story revolved around her character, and this was important.
However, Rhodes was too beautiful and healthy looking to appear genuinely in pain. Believe it or not, makeup artists had to work harder to make her look unwell. And they had to give it a few tries to finally tone down her glowing, healthy beauty, and they were only mildly successful at it.
Parties On The Set
All the fun and dancing were rampant on the set of Dirty Dancing. Rehearsals would start and, most times, the booze would start to flow not long after. All the rigidity would be dusted off, and everyone would start to become more confident and familiar with one another.
The directors liked it this way. It wasn’t really an unprofessional manner of conducting their business. They just wanted the actors to get accustomed to their roles, and they were encouraged to improvise when they felt inspired to do so. The more natural the actors became with their characters and the dancing, the better things turned out when the cameras started to roll.
Dirty Dancing Is Adored Worldwide
For a film that barely got the go-signal from producers, it is quite incredible to think that it has become such a huge commercial success, not just in America, but across different nations. We bet that not even the actors themselves thought it would become as big as it turned out to be.
When Grey was interviewed by The Guardian back in 2006 about which country really admires Dirty Dancing, her answer surprised everyone. How does Russia love Dirty Dancing so much? “[In] Russia, it’s policy in the battered women’s shelters, when a woman comes in for help.” She added, “First, they wash & dress her wounds, and then they give her some soup. Then they sit her down to show her Dirty Dancing. When the Berlin Wall came down, there were all these pictures of kids wearing Dirty Dancing T-shirts; they were saying, ‘We want to have what they have in the West! We want Dirty Dancing!’” Jennifer Grey said.
We’ve talked so much about Baby Houseman so far, and you must be wondering about the character of Johnny by now. After all, this character is played by Patrick Swayze, who would become a sex symbol in the 90s for his tough guy, and romantic lead roles.
While Baby was based on Eleanor Bergstein’s childhood, Johnny Castle was based on the stories of Michael Terrace. Eleanor met Michael, a dance instructor, in the Catskills back in 1985 when she was working on the story, and she fictionalized her childhood experiences with him to make it into a romance.
They Were Very Similar
When Dirty Dancing became such a popular film, it opened itself up to public scrutiny. People would soon find out that Baby was based on Eleanor Bergstein’s own life. It became the talk of the town for a while, and people noted the similarities between writer and character. But little did they know that there was a lot of Eleanor that could be found in Johnny Castle too.
Like Johnny, Eleanor was a dance teacher. She had to support herself as she went through college, and one way of earning money was teaching dance lessons in Art Murray dance school. And she did like to dance the mambo, and the dirty dance. When asked about the similarities between her characters and herself, she said, “so, while everybody thinks I’m Baby, there’s actually a lot of Johnny in me, too.”