You may have seen Dirty Dancing hundreds of times – it’s that kind of film – but do you know all the secrets about the movie? Are you aware of its original title, the on-set tension between its stars, or the multiple disasters that rained down on cast and crew while they were shooting? Well, if not, this is the list for you. And after reading it, you may be even more obsessed with the movie than you already were.
20. Patrick Swayze hated the film’s most famous line
“Nobody puts Baby in a corner” was rated the 98th greatest movie quote ever by the AFI in 2005. But Patrick Swayze didn’t relish having to say it. “I could hardly bring myself to say: ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner.’ It sounded so corny,” he wrote in his 2009 autobiography.
19. Jennifer Grey didn’t rehearse for “the lift”
The film’s famous “lift” scene is all the more impressive when you consider that it was the only time Jennifer Grey ever performed the move. “I only did it on the day I shot it. Never rehearsed it, never done it since,” she told the The Guardian in 2015.
18. Writer Eleanor Bergstein based Baby’s life on her own
Baby is based on Dirty Dancing writer Eleanor Bergstein’s younger self. In fact, as well as Baby’s moniker being Bergstein’s own childhood nickname, she too was a Jewish, Brooklyn-born, Catskills-visiting kid whose father who was a doctor. And perhaps most importantly, she also loved to dance.
17. Swayze and Grey didn’t always get along
Swayze wrote in his autobiography that Grey, also his co-star in Red Dawn, “couldn’t stand” him when they auditioned together. And although their relationship eventually mellowed, there were still moments of tension. Indeed, Swayze disliked how emotional and “silly” Grey could be on set.
16. The crew members had to paint some tree leaves green
Dirty Dancing is set during the summer, but unfortunately when the time came to film the outdoor shots, autumn had arrived. As a result, the crew had to improvise. So they spray-painted the yellow leaves green and even glued some of them onto the trees.
15. A sponsor pulled out when they heard the plot involved abortion
Dirty Dancing was made on such a shoestring budget that its producers, Vestron, hoped to attract a sponsor for it. And they almost found one in the form of an acne cream company, but the abortion scene caused the deal to flounder. Fearing a backlash if it associated with the film, the firm subsequently made a quick exit.
14. Several people suffered on-set injured all on the same day
On the sixth day of filming Dirty Dancing, the crew must have begun to wonder if they were cursed. Indeed, over the course of 24 hours property was stolen by burglars, flooding blocked the surrounding roads, a van was destroyed, three crew members suffered workplace accidents, and three others had food poisoning.
13. The crawling-around scene wasn’t meant to be in there
One of the most beloved moments in Dirty Dancing is the scene where Baby and Johnny flirt with each other while crawling on the floor. But it wasn’t in the original script. In fact, it was only supposed to be a warm-up routine. However, director Emile Ardolino liked it so much that he left it in.
12. The movie’s theme song became a smash hit at funerals
“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” recorded by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes for Dirty Dancing, won an Academy Award. And that isn’t the only accolade it’s picked up over the years. Indeed, in 2006 a U.K. survey revealed that it was also one of the songs most often played at funerals.
11. The first cut of the film was a disaster
Editing can often make or break a movie, but for a while it looked like Dirty Dancing was broken. Indeed, when Emile Ardolino screened his first cut of the film, the producers loathed it. In fact, one of them allegedly told him to “burn the negative and collect the insurance.”
10. Patrick Swayze had a serious knee injury in one scene
The scene in which Johnny takes Baby to a lake in order to teach her to lift is beautifully acted. But it turns out that Swayze was in agony during the filming of it. Indeed, he was suffering from a knee injury so serious that he almost refused even to get in the water.
9. Jennifer Grey was stung by wasps while filming
Not long before the end of the shooting, a swarm of wasps descended on the Dirty Dancing set. And some of them stung Jennifer Grey on the arm. As a result, the skills of a make-up artist were required to cover them up. However, unfortunately the make-up artist had quit that very same day.
8. Fans can stay at the lodge where the movie was filmed
The Mountain Lake Lodge, Virginia, once hosted the Dirty Dancing cast and crew, and these days it hosts the thousands of fans of the film who visit every summer. In fact, visitors are even able to sleep in the same cabin Baby stayed in. What’s more, they can also take part in activities such as “watermelon tossing”… and dancing, of course.
7. Swayze was the only actor considered for the lead
It had been reported for many years that Patrick Swayze wasn’t actually the film-makers’ first choice to play Johnny Castle. However, Eleanor Bergstein dismissed the rumors in a 2017 Yahoo Movies interview. “Patrick was the only actor who was ever offered this [role], and he’s the only one we ever wanted,” she said.
6. The dancers weren’t allowed to do anything more than dance with each other
Some of the routines in Dirty Dancing were pretty raunchy, no doubt. But Bergstein was adamant that while grinding could take place on the dancefloor, it was permitted absolutely nowhere else. As a result, dancers weren’t allowed to have even physical contact with each other when the cameras were off.
5. Bill Medley thought the film’s title sounded like a “bad porno”
When Bill Medley was approached to perform a song for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, he wasn’t impressed by the film’s title. In fact, he thought it sounded like a bad pornographic movie. The fact that neither of its leads were famous at the time did nothing to convince him, either. But eventually, he came around and helped to created “The Time of My Life.”
4. Jennifer Grey’s laughter in one key scene was unscripted
Grey’s laughter in the dance rehearsal scene wasn’t acting. In fact, it was very much real, as she simply couldn’t control her giggling. What’s more, the annoyance on Patrick Swayze’s face was genuine as well. But that moment of reality made for one of the best scenes in the film.
3. The film’s editor criticized the dancing in the movie
The editor working on the film didn’t quite pick up on its feminist message. Indeed, while cutting Baby’s scenes together, the editor asked, “How can you have respect for a girl who dances that way?” As the film’s screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein had created the dance move in question, a painful silence ensued.
2. Jennifer Grey was in a car crash just before the film premiered
Less than a week before Dirty Dancing was released, Jennifer Grey was involved in a very serious car accident. She was injured and two other people were killed. Grey’s then boyfriend Matthew Broderick, who was driving the car, was convicted of the crime… and fined a mere $200. Grey has said that after the accident, she subsequently found it difficult to enjoy her newfound Dirty Dancing fame.
1. The film could have been called I Was a Teenage Mambo Queen
Dirty Dancing nearly wasn’t called that at all. Indeed, after becoming frustrated that everyone assumed they were making a porn film, the film-makers very nearly changed the name to I Was a Teenage Mambo Queen. Hollywood history could have been very different indeed…