It's been 25 years since "Dirty Dancing" first set the silver screen on fire, a teenage fantasy with an innocent girl, a scorching-hot guy, a risque sub-plot, and an unbeatable soundtrack. It's one of the most-popular movies ever made -- we still get a little thrill over "No one puts Baby in a corner" -- but the fact is that the iconic coming-of-age movie starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze almost didn't get made at all.
Writer and producer Eleanor Bergstein spent 10 years trying to sell the script in Hollywood, going so far as to demonstrate some of the raunchiest dance moves herself. "You do what you have to do and I would get up on tables and dirty dance because people couldn't envision the dancing," she told "The Age" in 2005. "They loved the soundtrack but they hated the script. Everybody told me how bad it was."
A tiny production house, Vestron, gave them a couple of months and a $5 million budget. Acne-medication makers Clearasil refused to sponsor the film after finding out about the abortion sub-plot, which Bergstein refused to cut from the final version. After seeing a screening of the film, producer Aaron Russo told Vestron to "burn the negative, and collect the insurance." They decided to release the film in theaters for just one weekend, then have it go straight to video. But "Dirty Dancing" was an instant hit -- not with teenagers, but with adults. It became the number one movie in America, pulling in $10 million in 10 days. It went on to become the fifth-highest grossing movie of 1987, earning $170 million that year alone.
Here are 10 other things you may not have known about "Dirty Dancing":
1. The story is semi-autobiographical. Bergstein grew up in Brooklyn, spent her summers in the Catskills in the early 1960s, was the daughter of a Jewish doctor -- and everybody called her "Baby." (In the movie, Baby's real name is Frances, which is Bergstein's sister's name.) The soundtrack included songs from Bergstein's personal record collection.
2. Bergstein doesn't see herself as Baby. She worked her way through college as a dance instructor, teaching conventional as well as bump-and-grind R&B moves. "When I was in junior high I would go to Dirty Dancing contests and we would do this really, really raunchy street dancing," she told "The Age." "So, while everybody thinks I'm baby, there's actually a lot of Johnny in me, too."
3. Jennifer Grey wasn't the first choice for Baby.
She was considered too old -- 26 at the time, when Baby was supposed to be 16 -- and too easily recognizable from her role in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." But she's the daughter of a dancer (her dad, Joel Grey, won an Oscar for his work in "Cabaret"), and she managed to win the part.
4. Patrick Swayze wasn't the first choice for Johnny. Filmmakers picked Billy Zane, but when partnered with Jennifer Gray for the dance scenes, he just didn't smolder. But Swayze did. He was 34 at the time (Johnny was supposed to be in his early 20s).
5. Johnny was originally supposed to be Italian. The hunky leading man was inspired by a dancer named Michael Terrace that Bergstein knew in Brooklyn, and was supposed to be "dark and Mediterranean." But when Swayze got the part, they rewrote the script to make the character Irish.
6. Dr. Ruth was supposed to have a cameo.
Yes, that Dr. Ruth, the famed sex therapist. She's a friend of Bergstein's, and was set to play Mrs. Schamacher (with Jennifer Grey's dad, Joel Grey, as her husband), but she backed out after learning that the character had to steal a purse.
7. The movie wasn't shot in Upstate New York. The movie takes place in Upstate New York, but the outdoor scenes, including shots of the staff cabins, were filmed at a former camp in Lake Lure, North Carolina, which is now a residential community called Firefly Cove (that's where Baby was practicing her steps on the stairs). The indoor scenes (Penny crying in the kitchen, and the Houseman's cabin) were set at the Mountain Lake Hotel in Mountain Lake, Virginia. Twenty-five years later, the hotel still hosts "Dirty Dancing"-themed tours and getaways.
8. The cast wasn't allowed to touch one another unless they were filming. The team only had two weeks to rehearse and 44 days to film the movie, so Bergstein decided to heighten the sexual tension by telling the dancers that no matter how intimate they were in front of the cameras, they couldn't have any kind of physical contact off set.
9. That famous scene where Swayze is touching her arm and Grey is giggling? Totally ad-libbed.
It was supposed to be a serious and tender moment, but Grey was exhausted -- and ticklish. Swayze was irritated by her giggles, and didn't bother to hide his annoyed expression. The producers decided to leave it as is, and it became one of the most-popular moments in the movie.
10. The movie's soundtrack is still going strong.
It spent 18 weeks on Billboard's top 200, went platinum 11 times, and has sold more than 42 million copies worldwide. The movie's closing song, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy Award. It's also the third most-popular songs played at funerals in the U.K., according to The BBC.
What's your favorite line from the movie?
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