In the Times' Patrick Swayze obituary, Anita Gates writes that though he was diagnosed with cancer in January 2008, six months later he'd already outlived his prognosis and was filmed at an airport, smiling and calling himself "a miracle dude."

This combination of hard and soft — vulnerable and tough — seems to sum up Patrick Swayze as a person, and as an actor. His dad was a rodeo cowboy; his mom was a dance instructor, and his roles — from Roadhouse to The Outsiders to Dirty Dancing to Ghost and Point Break — always seemed to highlight the two sides of his spirit; the rough-around-the-edges dude with a heart of gold. (Jennifer Grey called him a "real cowboy with a tender heart.")

When it came to living with cancer, Swayze told Barbara Walters during a televised interview that he wasn't interested in pursuing experimental treatments. He thought if he were to "spend so much time chasing staying alive," he wouldn't be able to enjoy the time he had left. "I want to live," he said.

In 1985, Swayze starred in the TV miniseries North And South, playing a conflicted Southern soldier. According to the New York Times, he talked to the Associated Press about his character, saying: "People don't identify with victims. They identify with people who have the world come down on their heads and who fight to survive."

More memories of Patrick Swayze below.

Patrick Swayze, Star of ‘Dirty Dancing,' Dies at 57 [NY Times]
Jennifer Grey: I Remember Being in Patrick Swayze's Arms [People]