Here’s a cast and character guide for Dirty Dancing. For a film many predicted would be a flop, Dirty Dancing certainly proved naysayers wrong. The modestly budget drama revolves around a teenager who spends her summer vacation with her family at a resort. She soon falls for a hunky dance instructor named Johnny, but class tensions stand in the way of their romance. The film became a surprise smash upon release, grossing over $200 million worldwide and producing hit singles like “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”
Dirty Dancing is still beloved to this day but a sequel never arrived. Instead, a prequel dubbed Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights landed in 2004. Patrick Swayze made a cameo as a dance instructor, but despite featuring a fine cast like Romola Garai, Diego Luna, and January Jones (Mad Men), this follow-up received weak reviews and underperformed. The movie also received a TV remake in 2017, with Abigail Breslin (Zombieland: Double Tap) and Colt Prattes in the lead roles. This new version received mostly mixed reviews but did reasonably well in the ratings.
The original is still a classic in the eyes of many, so here’s a quick guide to the cast and characters of Dirty Dancing.
Patrick Swayze – Johnny Castle
The late, great Patrick Swayze played dance instructor Johnny in Dirty Dancing. Johnny is considered the local hunk at Camp Kellerman and is popular with the women that pass through, though he’s shown to have a low opinion of himself for letting them use him. He teaches Frances how to dance and they fall in love in the process, much to her father’s chagrin.
Jennifer Gray – Frances “Baby” Houseman
Jennifer Gray reunited with her Red Dawn co-star Swayze for Dirty Dancing, where she plays teenager Frances. She comes to Camp Kellerman with her family, and in addition to quickly developing a crush on Johnny, she helps his dance partner Penny pay for an abortion, which causes friction with her father. She sees Johnny in private and they fall in love, and in the finale Johnny reunites with Baby at the talent show for one last dance.
Jerry Orbach – Dr. Jake Houseman
France’s doctor father Jake is played by the late Jerry Orbach (Law & Order). The upper-class Houseman wants his daughter to steer clear of Johnny, especially after he’s called in to help Penny following a botched abortion, suspecting Johnny was the one who got her pregnant. He’s also angry at Baby for stealing money to pay for this operation, and she later confronts him on his attitude to the working-class people at the Camp. He later apologizes to Johnny for his snobbery.
Kelly Bishop – Marjorie Houseman
Gilmore Girls star Kelly Bishop plays Marjorie, mother of Frances and her older sister Lisa. Marjorie was more supportive of Baby’s choices than her husband. Bishop was originally cast in a smaller part in Dirty Dancing before Marjorie’s original performer had to drop out during the first week of shooting.
Cynthia Rhodes – Penny Johnson
Penny was Johnny’s original dance partner and love interest in Dirty Dancing. She becomes pregnant after an affair with slimy med student Robbie, and Frances help her pay for an abortion. Penny later recommends Frances take her place for the remaining dance shows.
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