Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey opens up about the accident that changed her life and forced her to turn her back on Hollywood

Some movies just pass by unnoticed by the audience, and others remain classics and attract the attention of millions. Dirty Dancing definitely belongs to the latter. The love story between Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman and dance teacher Johnny Castle sold over 1 million copies on VHS. The original song for the movie, ‘I’ve Had The Time of My Life‘ won numerous awards, including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.


For the lead actors, Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, the door to a whole new world was opened. Suddenly, all eyes were on them and they found themselves under the spotlight. However, a tragic incident that preceded the film premiere prevented Grey from enjoying her enormous success and all the attention she was given by the huge number of fans.

Today, years after Dirty Dancing saw the light of the day and became one of the best movies of the decade, Grey speaks of her fame and her decision to turn her back on Hollywood at the age of 27.

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In 1987, the year the movie premiered, Grey was living in Ireland with then-boyfriend Matthew Broderick. The two were were involved in a car crash in which a mother and her young daughter lost their lives. As per reports, Broderick was driving on the wrong side of the street and killed the family in the other vehicle. He was charged with dangerous driving, later reduced to careless driving.

Grey didn’t suffer any serious physical injuries, or at least she thought so, but she was never the same person she once was. The tragedy touched her deeply and she had a hard time moving on.

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Speaking to the Daily Mirror, the promising actress said, “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.”

“My head was never the same, my ambition was never the same,” she told People.

As she struggled with survivor’s guilt, Grey finally decided to do something for herself and underwent a nose procedure. However, it didn’t turn out as planned and instead of making her feel better about her looks, Grey’s face became unrecognizable.

“I went in the operating theater a celebrity and come out anonymous,” she revealed 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 ­recognizes because of a nose job.”

Some ten years ago, Grey felt that she wanted to be part of the film industry again. She won the TV show ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and that finally helped her leave her past behind. This show was exactly what she needed to feel alive again.

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“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,” Grey told People.

Today, she’s back on the big screen and starred in the movies UntogetherRed OaksBittersweet Symphony and I am Patrick Swayze.

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However, there was a time when she was going through severe medical issues. A medical checkup revealed Grey was at risk of being paralyzed.

“Her spine was actually literally falling off. One good fall or a rear end accident or throwing her head suddenly and it could have done serious damage to her spinal cord,” neurological spinal surgeon Dr. Robert Bray, Jr., told ABC. “We are talking about complete paralysis.”

Dr. Bray performed several operations on Grey and a titanium plate needed to be screwed into her spine. Unfortunately, more shocking news followed, Grey had cancer.

X-rays showed a cancerous growth in her thyroid, but according to the actress herself, doctors were able to remove it before the cancer spread to other areas.

In 2010, Grey underwent four major surgeries, including the one mentioned before. She was also forced to have her thyroid removed.

Luckily, she now feels great.

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We are sure that Jennifer Grey’s career would take a completely different turn if it wasn’t for that accident that changed her life forever. We are, however, happy she’s back where she has always belonged, in Hollywood.

If you loved Dirty Dancing see the unforgettable scene from it in the video below.

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