Why Patrick Swayze hated 'Nobody puts Baby in the corner' line from Dirty Dancing

12 September 2019, 13:31 | Updated: 12 September 2019, 17:13

By Tom Eames

It's one of the most iconic lines in movie history, but the man who uttered the famous quote was not a fan. At first...

Patrick Swayze - who passed away 10 years ago this week - starred as Johnny Castle in the 1987 classic movie Dirty Dancing opposite Jennifer Grey as Frances 'Baby' Houseman.

Arguably the most famous moment from the hugely popular film is Johnny's line "Nobody puts Baby in the corner."

It was ranked number 98 on AFI'S 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time, and has been quoted and parodied by countless TV shows, movies, music videos and beyond.

In case you somehow didn't know, Dirty Dancing tells the story of Baby, who offers to learn a dance so that Johnny's dance partner Penny can get an abortion. On paper, that doesn't sound like it makes much sense or is the most romantic of films, but it really is, trust us.

By the end of the movie, Johnny realises how strong Baby is, particular after Johnny is blamed for stealing, and she admits he couldn't have done it as she had spent the night with him, even though this would seriously disappoint her strict father.

When Johnny comes back for the final dance with Baby, he stands up to her father by pulling her away from said "corner".

However, Swayze himself did not want to say the line. Writer Eleanor Bergstein, told The Huffington Post: "I don't think anybody thought it was too great a line."

"Patrick didn't want to say it, but I just said, 'Well, just say it once and then the next time, just go up and do the speech and maybe we won't use it.' But we decided to use it."

In his book The Time Of My Life, written by him and wife Lisa Niemi, Swayze confirmed this, but later realised it did work perfectly and used it himself later in life to describe his fight against cancer.

"We did a lot of rewriting for the big final scene, but one line that I hated stayed in. I could hardly bring myself to say: 'Nobody puts Baby in a corner.' It sounded so corny," Swayze wrote.

"But, seeing the finished film, I had to admit it worked. And of course it became one of the most quoted lines in the movie. I quote a version of it myself these days, saying, 'Nobody puts Patrick's pancreas in a corner,' when people ask how I'm coping with cancer."

Dirty DancingActors Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze attend the premiere of 'Dirty Dancing' in 1987
Dirty DancingActors Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze attend the premiere of 'Dirty Dancing' in 1987. Picture: Getty

Sadly, Swayze lost his battle with cancer in 2009, but the actor used the iconic quote with humour after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

But what does the line actually mean?

Swayze could have said anything before bringing Baby to the stage and performing that iconic lift, and it probably would have worked.

But the original quote can mean one of several things. Baby is obviously literally sitting in the corner at her table, but it has a deeper meaning.

Read more: The Story of... 'She's Like the Wind' by Patrick Swayze

Johnny is basically saying that Baby doesn't deserve to be silenced by anyone, as she's incredible to him. And then she proves it by showing her family what an amazing dancer she is.

He was also pointing out how strong she is after everything she had done over the course of the movie. She protects other women, risks her own reputation to defend someone else, admits when she's wrong and called out inequality when she saw it.

It may have been even more empowering if Baby herself said it instead of Johnny, but it's still a powerful statement coming from him, someone who has seen her strength and wanted to repay the favour after she defended him. By doing this, he earned the respect from Baby's father that he deserved.

"Nobody puts Baby in the corner" is a quote all about standing up for what is right and fair. Plus, it's damned romantic, especially when uttered by Patrick Swayze.