In Dirty Dancing, how old was Jennifer Grey, and how old was Patrick Swayze? Dirty Dancing stars an iconic couple in Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, but how old is Patrick Swzye, how big is their age difference, and does it make the film problematic?
Eleanor Bergstein’s screenplay for Dirty Dancing is largely autobiographical, as it is based on her own adolescent experiences. This fact simply serves to highlight the age gap between Baby and Johnny. While the film does not expressly disclose the ages of the two characters, there is enough evidence to infer that the years between them are creepy.
The ages of Johnny and Baby in Dirty Dancing are called into doubt merely by looking at Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. Indeed, Baby does not appear to be the same age as Patrick Swayze’s Johnny in Dirty Dancing, and the film makes no attempt to explain any of it.
While this could be due to the era in which it was filmed, Dirty Dancing may not hold up well under today’s scrutiny in terms of its more problematic aspects. So, in Dirty Dancing, how old is Jennifer Grey?
How Old Are Baby And Johnny?
Johnny is 25 years old in Dirty Dancing, and Baby is 17 years old. Baby’s narration in Dirty Dancing begins with the phrase “summer of ’63.” Early on in the conversation, it is revealed that she intends to attend Mount Holyoke to study the economics of developing countries. In the politically heated Dirty Dancing, Baby expresses her desire to join the Peace Corps just before meeting Johnny for the first time.
According to Some reports, Baby is said to be 18 or even 19 years old. However, according to a 2017 interview with Grey, Baby was born in 1946 and is meant to be 17 years old. In Dirty Dancing, neither the character nor Johnny reveals her age on-screen. If Baby is actually a juvenile, her father’s hostile attitude toward Mr. Castle throughout the film would make sense.
Johnny is 25 years old in Dirty Dancing because he was born in 1938. The character initially wonders how Baby gained entrance to a secret dancing location, but then asks her to boogie and teaches her some routines. While coping with Penny’s medical procedures, Swayze’s Johnny and Jennifer Grey’s Baby/Frances gradually become friends, and they finally become romantic partners.
The eight-year age gap between the two characters is never addressed in Dirty Dancing on HBO, which makes the picture rather contentious – both then and now – because Baby is indeed a minor. However, in 1963 America, it was not unusual for men and women to be in a relationship or married at a young age. The central Dirty Dancing relationship may be inappropriate, but the age difference isn’t large enough to worry Baby’s father during the climax performance. Jake Houseman, in reality, apologizes to Johnny.
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How Old Were Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing?
In real life, the late Swayze was almost seven years older than Grey. Patrick Swayze, star of Roadhouse, was 34 years old when Dirty Dancing made its Cannes Film Festival debut in May 1987. He was best recognized for playing Jed Eckert in Red Dawn and Darrel “Darry” Curtis in The Outsiders.
Regarding Grey, she had recently turned 27 and had been in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as Jeanie Bueller. She co-starred as Toni Mason opposite Swayze in Red Dawn. Just over a year after her Dirty Dancing co-star Swayze passed away at the age of 57 from pancreatic cancer, Grey won season 11 of Dancing with the Stars in 2010.
The Age Difference Between Johnny and Baby in Dirty Dancing is at Best Questionable
Many people find the age difference between Johnny and Baby in Dirty Dancing to be troublesome. On the other hand, if she was 17 and he was 25, their relationship would be considered lawful in New York. This indicates that while the age difference is lawful, it is nonetheless problematic and would undoubtedly cause issues if a modern film featured a relationship dynamic like this. That so, unsettling age disparities in movies are not uncommon.
Large age gaps between couples can be forgiven in films like Licorice Pizza, and audiences appear to accept it. When it comes down to it, Dirty Dancing is still a beloved and well-regarded film. The movie is so popular that a TV remake of it was produced in 2017. Even while Dirty Dancing is still well-liked, if it were updated to reflect modern norms, the age difference between Johnny and Baby wouldn’t be acceptable.
The Age Gap in Dirty Dancing Is Not Uncommon
Although the age difference between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing is unsettling, it’s not the only film where the two stars have a serious age difference. Hollywood has produced many classic films that depict awkward age gaps between romantic partners, whether it is due to the ages of the performers themselves or the characters they play.
The 2014 romantic comedy starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone Consider the more recent book Magic in the Moonlight. With Stone being 25 years old and Firth being 53 at the time, there is a 28-year age difference between the two performers. Although it was legal, many viewers felt uneasy knowing that Firth was 28 years old when Stone was born.
American Beauty, a beloved film from the 1990s, is a more overt example. In the movie American Beauty, a forty-two-year-old Lester Burnham (played by Kevin Spacey, then 39) develops feelings for the sixteen-year-old friend of his teenage daughter, Angela.
In the 1980 Martin Scorsese drama Raging Bull, an adult Robert de Niro develops feelings for a character who is portrayed by a 17-year-old actress and is 15 years old. Last but not least, the film Entrapment, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery, demonstrated a romantic spark between the two characters but offered no explanation for the roughly forty-year age difference between Zeta-Jones and Connery.
Thus, while the age gap in Dirty Dancing may be problematic, it’s not the only example and isn’t the worst of its kind. Not to mention, there are other issues with this classic movie than the age difference between Johnny and Baby.
Baby and Johnny’s Age Wasn’t the Only Dirty Dancing Lie
Unfortunately, the age difference between Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing isn’t the only falsehood in the film. Grey said about their strained relationship on set, now that she is in her 60s.
“The same way Baby and Johnny were not supposed to be together … a natural match, right? And we weren’t a natural match. And the fact that we needed to be a natural match created a tension. Because normally when someone’s not a natural, you… both people move on, but we were forced to be together. And our being forced to be together created a kind of a synergy, or like a friction. I actually just had a thought about Patrick. I feel like if I could say anything to him now I would say, ‘I’m so sorry that I couldn’t just appreciate and luxuriate in who you were, instead of me wishing you were more like what I wanted you to be.” (via People).
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What Is Known About The Sequel to Dirty Dancing
Decades after its release, Dirty Dancing is still regarded as a classic and well-liked ’80s movie, despite the age difference controversy. A 2004 prequel and a 2017 made-for-TV adaption were born out of its success, but the biggest news is that an actual sequel, called Dirty Dancing 2, is in the works.
Though not much else is known about the movie, it was announced that Jonathan Levine will be directing and that Jennifer Grey will be playing Baby again. Due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, the Dirty Dancing sequel’s release date has been moved back to 2025. Hopefully, this means that there won’t be an awkward age gap in the final product.