Who is Don Swayze?
Donald ‘Don’ Swayze is an American actor and dancer who appeared in many character roles in his film and TV career spread across the 80s, 90s and 2000s. Born in Texas, Don took inspiration from his mother, who happened to be a choreographer, but she never quite made it to Hollywood. Don entered film school and started auditioning and began his acting career with ‘Street Hawk’, ‘The Fall Guy’ and ‘Matt Lock’ and a few other television shows. His film career saw him playing a supporting character in ‘Shy People’ in the late 80’s. He showed his dancing skills in the film ‘Urban Cowboy’, which paved his way to get a few more films and TV roles where the characters were required to be a dancer. Lately, he was seen in the Netflix series ‘Longmire’ and he has also been active in the theatre circuit at well. In 2001, he was seen in ‘Man of La Mancha’ production, which was a loose retelling of the cult novel ‘Don Quixote’. Don is the brother of late popular actor Patrick Swayze and even though he never achieved a much success as his brother, Don has carved a niche for himself, in his very own way.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on 10th August 1958 in Texas, Don Swayze was exposed to performance arts since his very childhood. He saw his mother Patsy Swayze teaching dance and dancing on stage ever since he opened his eyes. Creating a perfect contrast of artistic childhood with the practical life was his father Jesse Swayze, who happened to be an engineer. Don was inclined more towards his mother and attended most of her shows as she worked as choreographer, dance instructor and stage performer, a highly respected one in the city.
Don grew up in a big family of five children, two brothers Patrick and Sean, and two Sisters, Vicky and Bambi. The family lived in the Oak Forest Area, where the kids played around with local kids and did their early schooling from. Don describes his childhood as ‘very average’, just like kids from any other middle class household. Patrick, his elder brother was always curious about acting and went on to take acting lessons from The Beverly Hills Playhouse. Don followed his brother’s footsteps, but was sceptical initially about a career in acting, though he grew up to love it.
A massive blow came to Don, when his father died of a heart attack in 1982, but by then, Don was quite able to look after himself and he didn’t let the unfortunate event affect him negatively and he indulged himself more in learning skills that would later help in his acting career. He learned bike riding, horse riding, singing, dancing, fight choreography, skydiving and cycling. And by the year 1983, he was all set to plunge into the uncertain world of American entertainment industry and he started auditioning for television.
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By then, he had one film credit to his name as he danced in a movie called ‘Urban Cowboy’, but that couldn’t be included as one of his acting roles, as his part was limited to a background dancer. His first official acting stint was in the 1984 TV movie named ‘I Married a Centrefold’. The film had him playing a random character actor appearing in a very minor role. He appeared briefly in an episode of ‘Street Hawk’ as Pug in the very next year. He went on doing a few more roles, with his moderate acting skills and average looks, he knew he would always be far away from playing leading roles in the films or TV.
He played a slightly bigger role in ‘Prince of Bel Air’, the TV movie and a slew of other TV roles followed which saw him playing character roles. He started auditioning for films in the late 80’s and after getting rejected for many of them, he finally was seen on big screen in ‘Driving Force’, an action thriller film, where he played the role of Nelson. Somehow, with a major film to his credit, he started getting slightly bigger roles in the TV series’, and his acting talent was also visibly improving by then.
He got extremely busy in the early 90’s and in the 1991 alone, he was seen in almost half a dozen acting roles, which included films like ‘Edge of Horror’ and ‘Payback’, the B
movies. His TV roles in that period include ‘Dragnet’ and ‘The World According to Straw’. Somehow, the ‘straight to video B
films’ were quite the talk of the town then and he appeared in quite a handful of them. He was seen in ‘Death Ring’ and ‘Body of Influence’ in mid 90’s, both cheap quality films made for video. His tryst with small roles in films and TV continued but a pleasant change was the fact that he was getting more film roles than ever.
He appeared in ‘The Prophet’s Game’ and ‘Evasive Action’, towards the end of the century and the year 2000 brought to him the biggest role of his career, until then. He starred in ‘Movie Stars’, a comedy TV series where he appeared in many episodes. He later went on to play character roles in films such as ‘Knuckle Sandwich’ and ‘Betrayal’ with slightly more significant roles in TV shows such as ‘CSI: Miami’ and ‘Carnivale’.
One big role he played was of a werewolf in the highly success HBO series ‘True Blood’. He was signed on to play the role of Gus, a werewolf and he signed a six episodes contract with the show. The show was a major success and Don’s performance was noticed and admired. In the TV drama ‘Matlock’, his performance as a mentally handicap man was particularly praised by the critics, so was his recurring role as Charles Hankel in ‘Criminal Minds’.
Presently, Don is playing recurring roles in two major soap operas, ‘Young and the Restless’ and ‘Days of Our Lives’. Also in 2017, it was announced that Don has joined the cast of the very popular medical drama show ‘General Hospital’, where he would be playing a character named Buzz, for a few episodes.
Apart from his film and TV roles, Don has been actively providing his talents to the theatrical productions. Most memorable of his roles are Pedro in ‘Man of la Mancha’ in 2001. The performance earned him applauds when it was organized at Simi Valley Cultural Arts Centre. ‘Jane Fonda: In the Court of Public Opinion’ was another major performance for the theatre apart from the comedy ‘Lone Star’ among a few others.
Don Swayze happens to be a sports lover and in his free time, he likes to travel to difficult terrains. He would spend hours biking, climbing mountains, hiking and exploring the nature.
Don was very close to his brother and while Patrick was battling cancer, Don stayed very close to him and looked after his needs. When Patrick died in 2009, it broke Don and he went into a nervous breakdown, barely coming out of it.
Don married Charlene Lindstrom in June 2014, which was a close affair, only having family and close friends present in the private church, where the marriage took place. Before her, Don got married to Marcia Swayze in 1985, while they both were struggling to make a place for themselves in the film and TV industry. The couple had a daughter together and after eight years of marriage, the couple went ahead for a divorce in 1993.