He received another nomination for his 1990 blockbuster "Ghost," in which he starred alongside Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. He was named by People magazine as the "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1991.
Moore released this statement upon hearing of Swayze's death, "Patrick you are loved by so many and your light will forever shine in all of our lives. In the words of Sam to Molly. 'It's amazing Molly. The love inside, you take it with you.' I will miss you. Demi."
Swayze continued acting in films, including "Point Break," "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar" and "Donnie Darko."
Swayze told Walters he started to notice something was wrong on New Year's Eve Dec. 31, 2007, when he couldn't even drink a glass of champagne. He soon realized that his indigestion issues were constant, that he was suffering from jaundice and rapidly losing weight.
After undergoing a battery of tests and procedures, doctors discovered Swayze had stage 4 pancreatic cancer -- the most serious level of the disease. Removal by surgery was not an option.
Pancreatic cancer often is called a "silent killer" because symptoms may not appear until the cancer has already reached an advanced stage.
Although the majority of patients with advanced stage pancreatic cancer die within six months of the diagnosis, Swayze reacted with defiance.
"I have the meanness and the passion to say, 'To hell with you. Watch me! You watch what I pull off.'"
Before Swayze could absorb or live with the diagnosis, news of his illness leaked to the public and there were reports that he only had five weeks to live. Swayze was forced to release a statement announcing that he was battling cancer.
Throughout his illness, tabloid newspapers continued to report that he was on his last legs and planning his goodbyes.
Swayze said he was able to ignore the tabloids in the past but began to feel differently "when they start screwing with people I love, when they start screwing with my family.
"Hope is a very, very fragile thing in anyone's life," he said, "and the people I love do not need to have that hope robbed from them, when it's unjustified and it's untrue."
Asked if he was scared, Swayze told Walters, "I don't know. I will be so either truthful or stupid as to say no. But then I immediately, when I say that, I have to say yes, I am."
Even after his diagnosis, Swayze continued to work. In late 2008, he shot an entire season of the A&E television series called "The Beast." Playing an aging FBI agent training a new partner, Swayze called it some of the best work of his career. The show was shot in Chicago, where he would often work 12 hour days and have chemotherapy treatments on his days off.
"Nobody on the set ever saw me whine, moan like a girly-loser-man," Swayze said. "I would do an attitude adjustment every morning. I think everybody thought I was out of my mind, thinking I'm gonna pull off a TV show, but I've never been one to run from a challenge."
"I've always known that Patrick is a really tough guy, but until all this illness came up in this past year, I had no idea really, the depths of his toughness and, and the amount of fight in him," said Lisa Niemi, Swayze's wife of 34 years.
The couple met 37 years ago, when 16-year-old Niemi walked into his mother's dance studio in Houston, and the 20-year-old Swayze became smitten for life.