The pairing of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing is instantly recognizable, but how large is their age difference, and does it create any issues for the film? Eleanor Bergstein, the film’s screenwriter, based the story on her own adolescent experiences, making Dirty Dancing in some ways autobiographical.
The age gap between Baby and Johnny has been brought into further focus by this revelation. The movie doesn’t come right out and say how old the two main characters are, but there’s evidence to suggest there’s a significant age gap.
The 1987 movie is now available to stream on HBO and HBO Max, and it’s about a young woman’s blossoming romance with her much older dance partner, whom she meets at a resort in New York.
Dirty Dancing, directed by Emile Ardolino, was an international phenomenon thanks to its infectious score and stellar performances. With Grey as Frances “Baby” Houseman and Swayze as Johnny Castle, Dirty Dancing transports us to the early 1960s.
The story follows Jake Houseman (Jerry Orbach) and his family as they spend a vacation at Kellerman’s (actually the Mountain Lake Lodge in Mountain, Lake Virginia) with their daughters, Baby and Lisa (Jane Brucker).
While that’s going on, Patrick Swayze’s Johnny is busy running a music school and performing with his longtime pal Penny Johnson (Cynthia Rhodes). To keep his job after Penny becomes pregnant and considers terminating the pregnancy, Baby agrees to train and perform with Johnny. Partners become closer as a result of the shared experience of dancing together.
The ages of Johnny and Baby in Dirty Dancing are called into question if one looks at Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray. The film makes no attempt to explain why the two characters don’t appear to be the same age.
The film’s problematic elements may be a product of their time, but Dirty Dancing may not hold up well in the modern era. Get the lowdown on Baby and Johnny’s ages in Dirty Dancing and find out if the age gap between them is real or not.
How Old Are Johnny And Baby?
There are hints in Dirty Dancing that indicate Johnny is 25 and Baby is 17. During the opening narration of Dirty Dancing on HBO, Baby makes a reference to the “summer of ’63.
” There is an early conversation that reveals her intent to study the economics of developing countries at Mount Holyoke, a Massachusetts private college for women. In Dirty Dancing, just before she sees Johnny for the first time, Baby says that she wants to join the Peace Corps.
According to some sources, Baby is actually much older than the widely accepted age of 19. Trivia notes on IMDb and a 2017 interview with Grey (via Closer Weekly) suggest, however, that Baby was likely born in 1946 and is meant to be 17 years old. In Dirty Dancing, neither she nor Johnny ever says their ages out loud. If Baby is underage, then her father’s hostile behavior toward Mr. Castle for the majority of the film makes sense.
If Johnny were born in 1938, he would be 25 years old in Dirty Dancing. While at first confused as to how Baby was able to enter a restricted dance club, the character eventually invites Baby to join in and even gives her a few pointers on how to get the party started. Eventually,
Johnny and Baby become romantic partners after becoming friends while dealing with Penny’s medical procedures (with the help of Jake Houseman). Despite the fact that Baby is clearly a minor, the producers of HBO’s Dirty Dancing never once bring up the fact that she is eight years older than Johnny.
However, it was not unusual for young men and women in 1963 America to commit. In spite of the fact that the central relationship in Dirty Dancing is inappropriate, Baby’s father isn’t particularly worried about the age difference during the show’s culminating performance. Even more so, Jake Houseman offers an apology to Johnny.
How Old Were Patrick Swayze And Jennifer Grey When The Filming Of Dirty Dancing Began?
In real life, the late Mr. Swayze was about seven years older than Mr. Grey. At the time of the May 1987 Cannes Film Festival premiere of Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze was 34 years old and had previously starred in films like The Outsiders and Red Dawn,
in which he played Darrel “Darry” Curtis and Jed Eckert, respectively. For her part, Grey was 27 years old and best known for her role as Jeanie Bueller in the 1986 classic film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
She played Toni Mason opposite Swayze in Red Dawn. After Swayze’s untimely death from pancreatic cancer at age 57 in 2009, Grey won season 11 of Dancing with the Stars in 2010.
Was Jennifer Grey Responsible For All Of The Dances In Dirty Dancing?
Jennifer DID perform all the dance moves on her own, including the signature lift, but she was nervous about it.
There wasn’t a lot of time for practice because the movie was shot in only three months.
Jennifer was so terrified of the lift that she wouldn’t even practice it first.
When it came time to film the moment, she and Patrick nailed it on the first try.
This was the first and only time Jennifer had ever attempted the lift, and she still won’t try it again.
While the character of Baby is supposed to be a recent high school graduate, Jennifer Grey, who played the role, was actually 26 years old when she was cast.
Patrick Swayze, in the role of Johnny, was 34 years old when the film was made. He is ten years older than his on-screen persona.
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