From its very conception, it was a low-budget movie. It had no big actors; it had no well-known director. And yet the very moment Dirty Dancing hit the big screen in August 1987, the producers and cast knew they’d accomplished something enormous.
The audience simply came out of nowhere. People rushed to see the new film, and it became the first ever to sell over 1 million copies on VHS. Even the soundtrack, ‘I’ve Had The Time of My Life’ won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song. For male lead Patrick Swayze, the success was instantaneous.
He became a teenage idol and sex symbol, going on to land roles in big movies like Ghost and Donnie Darko. Even Jennifer Grey, who played ‘Baby’ in the film, was predicted to enjoy a significant upturn in career prospects. However, it wasn’t to be. In an interview with People Magazine, Grey has now talked about the tragic accident that changed everything, forcing her to turn her back on the film industry for good.
By the end of the 1980s, no one could escape Dirty Dancing. The passionate love story of Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman and dance teacher Johnny Castle took the world by storm – the movie became one of the most popular of the decade.
But amongst the hubbub and celebrations, Jennifer Grey was gone as quickly as she had appeared.
Grey was missing from the public spotlight for a long, long time. Now, in an interview with People Magazine, she’s revealed all about the accident that changed her life.
Shortly before the film’s premiere in August 1987, Grey was residing in Ireland with then-boyfriend Matthew Broderick.
But the couple were involved in a terrible car accident when Broderick, driving on the wrong side of the road, crashed into another vehicle. A mother and her daughter were in the other car – both were killed, instantly.
Broderick was charged with dangerous driving – later reduced to careless driving. Jennifer Grey, meanwhile, suffered nothing more than bruises and minor physical injuries, though her mental scars remained.
The premiere for Dirty Dancing was mere days later. But, despite the success of the film, Grey simply couldn’t enjoy it.
“The juxtaposition of that deep sorrow, the survivor’s guilt, and then being celebrated as the new big thing just didn’t jibe. It didn’t feel good to be the toast of the town,” Grey said, as per the Daily Mirror.
The actress would never fully recover from the trauma brought about by the accident. She retired from the spotlight aged just 27.
“My head was never the same, my ambition was never the same,” she told People.
In the years that followed Grey appeared in some television shows, but nothing more.
She also underwent an operation on her nose, but, in much the same vein, it was a failure.
The surgery led to a change in her appearance; one that meant it was difficult to land major roles as people no longer recognised her.
However by 2010, Jennifer had forced her way back into the mainstream media. She won the TV show ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and returned to being a firm fan favourite. According to her, that was something that was important to her.
“It’s like I’ve starved myself because of what people could think about me. This is like eating a delicious steak after having been on a diet for 23 years,” the star told People.
In 2018, Grey took another step towards the limelight she left. She is set to appear in ‘Untogether’, as well as new comedy ‘Red Oaks’.
We’re so happy you’ve got your passion and joy back, Jennifer!
Now, who else feels like taking a nostalgia-fuelled trip back to 1987? See below the unforgettable scene from Dirty Dancing. What fantastic memories!
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