Jennifer Grey, who played ‘Baby’ in the iconic movie Dirty Dancing, was predicted to enjoy a significant upturn in career prospects.
However, it wasn’t to be. Instead, a tragic accident changed everything, forcing her to turn her back on the film industry for good.
Decades later, Jennifer Grey has finally opened up about the terrible period in her life that left her scarred forever…
No big actors, not a well-known director, and overall a low-budget movie.
Yet, the very moment Dirty Dancing hit the big screen in August 1987, the producers and cast knew they’d accomplished something enormous.
For male lead Patrick Swayze, the success was instantaneous. He became a teen idol and sex symbol, going on to land roles in big movies like Ghost and Donnie Darko.
But his co-star Jennifer Grey wasn’t in a good place when the movie premiered and she soon disappeared completely. Amongst the hubbub and celebrations, Jennifer Grey was gone as quickly as she had appeared.
And the actress was missing from the public spotlight for a long, long time.
But in recent years, and in an interview with People Magazine, she’s revealed all about the accident that changed her life.
But first, let’s take a look at Jennifer Grey’s life until that tragic accident in the summer of 1987.
Jennifer Gray started taking dance lessons from a young age. She was born in 1960 in New York, and it was her father who probably made her take the step into the entertainment industry. Her father, Joel Gray, worked as an actor, singer, dancer, director, and photographer.
Jennifer studied at Dalton School and focused on dance and acting. After graduating in 1978, she began looking for a job as an actress, and she also attended another school, the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater. At the same time, her life was not a dance on roses. Jennifer had to take a job as a waitress to pay the bills.
However, she managed to land a few gigs in TV commercials, including one for Dr. Pepper. Her film debut came in 1984 in the movie “Reckless.” A few years later came her tremendous breakthrough with “Dirty Dancing,” where she starred as Frances “Baby” Houseman.
The film is a classic, and the story is actually based on screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein’s childhood. Jennifer became a star overnight and received a nomination at the Golden Globe for Best Actress.
Unfortunately, she could never enjoy the enormous success.
Shortly before the film’s premiere in August 1987, Grey was residing in Ireland with then-boyfriend Matthew Broderick.
But the couple were involved in a terrible car accident when Broderick, driving on the wrong side of the road, crashed into another vehicle. A mother and her daughter were in the other car – both were killed, instantly.
Broderick was charged with dangerous driving – later reduced to careless driving. Jennifer Grey, meanwhile, suffered nothing more than bruises and minor physical injuries, though her mental scars remained.
The premiere for Dirty Dancing was mere days later. But, despite the success of the film, Grey simply couldn’t enjoy it.
“The juxtaposition of that deep sorrow, the survivor’s guilt, and then being celebrated as the new big thing just didn’t jibe. It didn’t feel good to be the toast of the town,” Grey said, as per the Daily Mirror.
The actress would never fully recover from the trauma brought about by the accident.
”My head was never the same, my ambition was never the same,” she told People.
Nose job from hell
She struggled with survivor’s guilt and disappeared for a couple of years in the early 90s before appearing in one episode of Friends, in 1995.
By then, she had undergone plastic surgery and her face was very different.
“I went in the operating theatre a celebrity and come out anonymous,” she said in 2012.
“It was like being in a witness protection program or being invisible. It was the nose job from hell. I’ll always be this once-famous actress nobody recognises because of a nose job.”
After that, Jennifer had an on-and-off career in Hollywood.
By 2010, Jennifer had forced her way back into the mainstream media. She won the TV show ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and returned to being a firm fan favorite. According to her, that was something that was important to her.
“It’s like I’ve starved myself because of what people could think about me. This is like eating a delicious steak after having been on a diet for 23 years,” the star told People.
In 2018, Grey took another step towards the limelight she left. She is set to appear in ‘Untogether’, as well as new comedy ‘Red Oaks’.
We’re so happy you’ve got your passion and joy back, Jennifer!
Now, who else feels like taking a nostalgia-fuelled trip back to 1987? See below the unforgettable scene from Dirty Dancing. What fantastic memories!
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