Swayze and Grey in Dirty Dancing
09/14/2009 AT 11:00 PM EDT
Patrick Swayze promised never to put Baby in a corner. That signature line – and the sultry dance steps and smoldering chemistry between him and costar Jennifer Grey – rocketed the two young actors to stardom in 1987 with Dirty Dancing.
"When I think of him, I think of being in his arms when we were kids, dancing, practicing the lift in the freezing lake, having a blast doing this tiny little movie we thought no one would ever see," Grey, who played Frances "Baby" Houseman, remembers of Swayze, who died Monday
at age 57 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Grey, 49, says Swayze was a "real cowboy with a tender heart," who was so fearless doing his own stunts that "it was not surprising to me that the war he waged on his cancer was so courageous and dignified."
"Patrick was a rare and beautiful combination of raw masculinity and amazing grace," she adds. "My heart goes out to his wife and childhood sweetheart, Lisa Niemi, to his mom, Patsy, and to the rest of their family."
's choreographer, Kenny Ortega, said in a statement, "Patrick was a great human being who I knew as a loving son, husband, brother and friend. He was one of the most creative, enjoyable and alive
people I knew. He did as much for dancing as any man of our generation.
"Patrick loved life, and had such
an enthusiasm for everything he did. If he could climb it, he climbed it. If he could write it, he wrote it. If he could dance it, well, we all know he did. He lived."
Ortega concluded, "Patrick Swayze was a loving and soulful man. The planet has lost a big heart. And I, a forever friend. My loving thoughts to Lisa, Patsy and his entire family."
Reporting by LISA INGRASSIA and NATASHA STOYNOFF