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The Story behind “Dirty Dancing”

Our last day of Dancing in the Movies takes us to one of the most unexpected movie sensations of the late '80s-- a little film shot in North Carolina and Virginia about a teenage girl, Baby Houseman (Jennifer Grey), who learns about love and really, really hot dance numbers thanks to a teacher named Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). Here's a look back at how "Dirty Dancing" has captured America's heart for three generations.

Dirty Dancing

When it opened on August 21, 1987, "Dirty Dancing" went on to break all the rules, still playing on movie screens and drawing audiences through the next year long after it was released on home video. It wasn't an easy film to bring to audiences either; the MPAA gave it an R rating twice thanks to the suggestive dance scenes, finally passing it with a PG-13 on round three. Here's a look at how the sudden success of its first week was celebrated by its indie releasing company, Vestron Pictures:

The impact of the film quickly went way beyond the movie theater, as the soundtrack (featuring the hit song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" and the Swayze-crooned "She's like the Wind") went on to spend much of its time atop the Billboard charts through March of 1988. It even spawned a second soundtrack release and even inspired tie-in dancing lessons from companies like Arthur Murray!

Audiences still couldn't get enough, which led to a national "Dirty Dancing: The Concert Tour," a TV series, and a major theatrical rerelease in August of 1997 for its tenth anniversary, including this contest to draw in fans both old and new:

More recently they still couldn't put Baby or her movie in a corner thanks to an episode of "The E! True Hollywood Story" in 2000, a 2004 sequel ("Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights"), a 2010 online parody, an internationally touring stage version, the inevitable plans for a remake with the involvement of the original's choreographer, Kenny Ortega ("High School Musical").

Images from the collections of the Margaret Herrick Library.



What's your favorite memory of "Dirty Dancing?"

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