The movie will celebrate its 35th anniversary later this month.
Lisa Niemi is reflecting on her late husband's life and career. ET's Kevin Frazier spoke with Patrick Swayze's widow ahead of the 35th anniversary of one of his most beloved roles -- Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing.
"It's really incredible," Niemi says of the continued love for the movie, which was released in August 1987. "When Patrick was still alive, he would always say, 'I’m on my second generation of fans'... He'd get approached by young ladies who weren't even born when the movie came out."
"Any artist," she continues, "for their work to live on like that and make such an impact in such a positive way, what more could you ask for?"
As for the film's most iconic scenes -- where Swayze's Johnny lifts Jennifer Grey's Baby -- Niemi reveals that her late husband "had that down forever."
"Patrick loves going off and he was strong enough to do all that stuff," she says, "so when they want to pull off a great lift, he says, 'I got one for you.'"
Back in 2020, ET confirmed that Grey is on board to star in and executive produce a sequel to the beloved '80s flick, which Swayze was approached about in the wake of the original movie's success.
"He would not do it again," Niemi says. "[The way they] left it was absolutely perfect. There were several iterations of a script for that movie, but Patrick had a high standard and he wasn't gonna do it just for the money."
Though Swayze wasn't interested in being involved in a Dirty Dancing sequel, Niemi hopes only good things for the project.
"Dirty Dancing was like lightning in a bottle," she says. "I don't think you can ever absolutely duplicate something. I think you always have to start fresh, but if they're going to do it, I hope it's the absolute best and it has its own character, and personality, and source of inspiration."
And it's not Dirty Dancing, but Swayze's 1991 flick, Point Break, that features Niemi's favorite on-screen moment of her late husband. During the scene in question, Swayze waves as he falls backward out of a plane, something Niemi says was "a quintessential Patrick moment."
"You had to be on your toes around him, let me tell you," she quips.
But no matter which project of Swayze's she watches, Niemi admits that there are always "some moments that really get" to her.
"We were so used to working together. We always worked on each other’s scenes and our dialogue and all of that stuff," she explains. "... I go back and see some of his movies, there’s some of his work that I’m like, 'Wow, that was great. You really nailed that.' He did a great job. He’s very talented."
It's not his talent that Niemi misses the most about her late husband, whom she describes as "one of a kind."
"I don't think there's anything I don't miss about him," she says. "... He's got such a zest for life and this and that, but it's all the little things that are left. It's the sound of his voice, how he smells, all the things that put him in the room with you that are physical."
"It's very strange for me, because he's been gone 13 years now. It's strange. That’s quite a bit of time, and it's very strange to have someone so far away and yet have them still so incredibly close in your heart," Niemi adds. "I feel like he's with me every day, but of course it'd be nice to have him physically in the room. But, I tell you what, we had a great ride and there’s so much to be grateful for."
Niemi was married to Swayze from 1975 until 2009, when the actor died after a battle with pancreatic cancer. It's in honor of her late husband that Niemi continues to be involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, a charity that aims to improve the lives of everyone impacted by pancreatic cancer by advancing scientific research, building community, sharing knowledge, and advocating for patients.
"It's so important," Niemi tells ET. "... I’m still in it for Patrick. Just because he's gone doesn't mean that the fight's over. He was a fighter and I’m continuing that for him. But also, I know how much everybody else out there wants as much as Patrick did to have a fighting chance. That's something that still really needs to be developed with pancreatic cancer."
"We need early detection," she adds. "... If we can crack this egg open, I think that's going to help people, not just pancreatic cancer, but a lot of other areas too, because it is very, very tricky to treat."