Over on our Shelf Life blog, I recently relayed 10 memorable stories from Patrick Swayze’s memoir, The Time of My Life. No. 6 was, perhaps, the most controversial: “I felt all along that Johnny should ultimately end up with Penny, as they were so much alike and a more realistic couple than Johnny and Baby,” the late actor wrote about Dirty Dancing. “That change got overruled, which was probably for the best. But when some on the set suggested I tone down the dancing with Penny early on, I put my foot down. They were worried that the dance scenes between Johnny and Penny were too sexy, that they would overshadow the later dance scenes between Johnny and Baby. I knew that wasn’t true, based on my audition with Jennifer. There was no doubt we’d be able to create the heat — and we did.”
I’m torn: There’s no way Johnny (Patrick Swayze) and Baby (Jennifer Grey) were making that relationship work after she left Kellerman’s, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have ended up together on that night. There’s a sense of finality about “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” that makes me believe they knew they were celebrating their past, not their future. Johnny and Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) were smokin’ on the dance floor, but how do you script an ending in which Baby makes them realize they belong together after she’s slept with Johnny? (Because clearly, we’re not cutting that love scene.)
Let’s put it to a vote: Who should Johnny have ended up with at the end of Dirty Dancing?
Photo credit: Everett Collection