Patrick Swayze, who soared to stardom as a heartthrob dancer in “Dirty Dancing” and ascended to romantic icon status as a deceased lover in “Ghost,” died Monday. He was 57.

“Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months,” said a statement released Monday evening by his publicist, Annett Wolf. No other details were given.

It was first reported in March 2008 that the actor was being treated for inoperable stage-four pancreatic cancer. In an ABC interview in January, Swayze said it “seemed likely” he would live for two more years.

A trained dancer and gymnast, the athletic Swayze was a swooner as a romantic lead in those two early ’80s sleeper hits. He garnered his first of three Golden Globe nominations for his electrifying “Dirty Dancing” performance.

The 1987 movie showcased Swayze’s dual abilities as a dancer and actor. He also composed and performed a song for the movie, “She’s Like the Wind,” which became a hit. And his line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” which he directed at Jennifer Grey character’s father, played by Jerry Orbach, became a popular movie one-liner.

Swayze turned down an offer of $6 million to appear in a sequel, but 17 years popped up in a cameo role in “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.”

Swayze followed “Dirty Dancing” with two projects that capitalized on his sex appeal and athleticism: “Road House” and “Next of Kin,” both released in 1989.

He soared further as a romantic lead the following year with Jerry Zucker’s “Ghost.” His robust and delicate performance as a dead man who didn’t tell his girlfriend that he loved her while he was alive captivated audiences. Swayze and Demi Moore teamed for one of most erotic scenes in mainstream movies when they sculpted clay to the Righteous Brothers’ meltingly romantic love song “Unchained Melody.”

Swayze won his second Globe nomination for “Ghost” and became a poster boy, earning People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” cover in 1991.

That same year, Swayze parlayed his buff stuff into a role as a bank robber/surfer guru in….read more.

Words by Duane Byrge