Jennifer Grey: Don’t Call Her “Baby”

In 1986, Gray landed a breakout role as “Baby” Houseman in “Dirty Dancing,” a film about an awkward teenager who falls for a hunky dance instructor (played by Patrick Swayze) while on vacation in a Catskills resort called Kellerman’s. Made on a budget of $6 million, the film grossed $214 million at the box office and, as the New York Times editor wrote on its 10th anniversary, “quickly became a phenomenon in a way that no one really understands, even to this day.” Swayze’s line, “Nobody puts baby around” became a rallying cry for disaffected Gen Xers – who, it turned out, yearned for rumba, romance and nostalgia as much as anyone else. Cuffed cut denim shorts and white Keds have become the official summer uniform for all teenagers whose Sun-In and perm have not enough achieve Grey’s honey waves. At 27, after being paid $50,000 for her job, she became a household name.

“After ‘Dirty Dancing,’ I was America’s sweetheart, which you think would be the key to unlocking all my hopes and dreams,” writes Grey, the daughter of Oscar-winning actor Joel Grey, and granddaughter of Mickey Katz, a comedian and musician who might have performed at Kellerman’s if it had been a real venue. “But it didn’t happen that way. For one thing, there didn’t seem to be a surplus of roles for actresses who looked like me. My so-called “problem” wasn’t really a problem for me, but since it seemed to be a problem for other people and didn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, by default it became my problem . »

“It was as clear as the nose on my face,” she said.

On the advice of his mother and three plastic surgeons – one of whom recalled seeing ‘Dirty Dancing’ and wondering ‘why didn’t that girl get her nose done’ – Gray underwent two procedures surgery to “refine” his fallopian tube. The second procedure, intended to correct an irregularity caused by the first, was more aggressive than Gray expected. His new nose was “truncated” and “eclipsed”. She was unrecognizable to people who had known her for years. Photographers who had harassed her the previous month did not take their cameras when she walked on a red carpet.

She remembers an airline employee who looked at her driver’s license and said, “Oh, Jennifer Grey, like the actress.” is me,” the woman replied, “’I’ve seen ‘Dirty Dancing’ a dozen times. I know Jennifer Gray. And you are not her.

“Overnight I lose my identity and my career,” Gray writes.

In the two hours she sat on a blue banquette at a Beverly Hills restaurant, picking up a boiled egg, spreading butter on rye bread and discussing her memoir, only one person seemed to recognize Gray. . The woman’s face brightened, then softened as if she had spotted an old friend who had survived a terrible ordeal.

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