Jenn Tisdale is a D.C. stand up comic. Follow her on Twitter at @Jenn_Tisdale.
No “celebrities” were harmed in the writing of this column. Its purpose is to mourn the loss of their careers, status, and in all likelihood bank accounts. This is an homage to their life’s work, both well-received and utterly humiliating. I have the utmost respect for all of them, even if they no longer have respect for themselves.
I’d like to think I was a worldly 7 year old. I was reading, and consequently being stripped of, Stephen King in the first grade. I spent hours perfecting my dance moves to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” via my Fisher Price Record Player. And I was watching grown-up films like “Dirty Dancing.” Fun fact about Penny’s abortion scene. When Dr. Houseman is treating her, Penny is wearing a pendant that falls in the hollow of her neck. To my young eyes it looked like she had a hole in her neck and for years I thought to myself: “Why is she taking a break? Why does she need a break? It’s just a tracheotomy.” No really. I thought that. (FF to 1:02)
Is there anything more romantic than a young, rich, educated girl being swept off her feet by a sexy, rhythmic, not quite sure how old he is but clearly older, “bad boy” while vacationing with your judgmental father, airhead sister and out of touch mother? Is there? Frances “Baby” Houseman was everything I wanted to be…and Jennifer Grey got to play that part.
She first leapt on the scene in “Red Dawn” (1984) starring opposite her “Dirty Dancing” costar, Patrick Swayze as well as Leah Thompson, C. Thomas Howell, and Charlie Sheen. Apparently there were only 10 young actors in the 80’s just like there are only 10 British actors today.
A couple years after this comes my favorite role as Ferris Bueller’s slighted, angry, bitchy (rightfully so) older sister Jeanie Bueller in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” She gets to makeout with Charlie Sheen (NO OTHER ACTORS IN THE 80’S?) in a police station. As someone who’s been to a few police stations I can say without a doubt that this never happens. He also calls her a whore, kind of. That does happen in police stations.
Then in 1987, she had the time of her life in “Dirty Dancing,” which earned her a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. I later nominated this film for Most Amount of Times I Can Pause A Scene to Look at Half of Patrick Swayze’s Ass as He’s Getting Out of Bed – Comedy or Musical. (FF to :20).
Sadly tragedy struck in August of 1987 when she was vacationing in Ireland with her then boyfriend Matthew Broderick. While driving Broderick drifted over into the other lane and hit a local woman and her daughter head on. Both were killed instantly. Broderick paid a $175 fine (WHAT?) and Grey suffered severe whiplash which would affect her throughout the rest of her life.
After this she was in a slew of made for TV movies, TV shows, as well as her own TV show where she played herself.
Unfortunately the job that will forever haunt her is the nose job she underwent in the early 90’s. It changed her appearance so drastically that not even close friends and family could recognize her.
She didn’t let that Nose Employment get her down, however. In 2010 she returned to TV to participate in “Dancing With the Stars,” but sadly not “Dirty Dancing With the Stars.” In November of 2010 she and her partner Hough (just one name apparently) won the competition.
So she began and ended her career with dancing. That is how it should be. She is survived by her husband and daughter, as well as a jar of cartilage hidden in a secret panel of her home, somewhere. I assume. She had a wonderful career. She had the time of her life, and managed to avoid being put in the corner.