Jennifer Grey: Life After Dirty Dancing

Jennifer Grey: Life After Dirty Dancing

Oct 08, 2020Ncuthu W

The actress shot to fame when she starred in one of the biggest films of the 1980s Dirty Dancing. Recently, her name has been brought back into the spotlight following the announcement of the highly anticipated sequel to the 1987 film and her pending divorce from the Avengers actor Clark Gregg. Dig in as we uncover little known facts about the star.


Grey was born and raised in Manhattan, New York. The love of the arts flowed in her blood as her father is the Academy-award winning actor Joel Grey and her mother, an actress, and a singer by the name of Jo Wilder. After she graduated from high school, Grey went on to study dance and acting to pursue her ambition of becoming an actress.

Even though most of her fans were introduced to her with the leading role of Baby Houseman, Jennifer featured in plenty of the 80s most prolific productions. The actress played alongside Patrick Swayze in Red Dawn 3 years before Dirty Dancing, she appeared in Franci Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club and she was also in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Her career took off after she reunited with Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing in 1987. The actress earned a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of Baby. However, shortly after the career-defining moment, her star began to dim. She starred in a few lackluster TV films and her next film project would be in 1992. 


Since Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey had collaborated on a project before, fans often believe that they had a good relationship. But the truth is actually the opposite. Dirty Dancing began filming in September 1986, Swayze was a seasoned 34-year-old actor, and Grey, 26, was still trying to find her way.

Their portrayal of their characters in Dirty Dancing was magical, but Grey and Patrick Swayze didn't get along, even before they starred in what became one of the greatest mainstream romantic films in history. The dancing duo had tension that had already been brewing between the two of them from the previous film.

This led to Grey second-guessing the role when she and Swayze were put together to act in the film. Swayze had many years of dancing experience before filming the movie because of his first professional role in the entertainment industry. He was a dancer in the Disney Theatrical Group show by the name of Disney on Parade.

Grey, however, lacked the skills, and in the same way, Johnny taught Baby on-screen, Swayze had to coach Grey on dancing. But this wasn't the only thing that irritated the actor, though. Grey had a habit of giggling in the middle of takes and, if someone on the filming team called her out on it, she would burst into tears.

During an interview that Swayze conducted with the American Film Institute, he mentioned that the film clearly reveals his annoyance as he was always “trying to keep this girl serious. Trying to keep her from crying. Trying to keep her focused. To get past her fear and her ego.”

Grey also shared acting alongside Swayze was “like a marriage where you have two opposites” as he was self-assured and she was insecure. “He’d do anything, and I’d be scared to do anything,” added the actress, who also thought it was frustrating that he enjoyed playing pranks on the cast. 


The pair met on the set of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and began dating in secret. During the summer of 1987, a few weeks before the release of Dirty Dancing, People reported that the couple traveled to Northern Ireland for a romantic getaway. Neither one of them could have anticipated that it would end in a tragic event. 

The duo rented a BMW 316 for a drive between Irvinestown and Maguiresbridge. They ended up in a collision with a car driven by a 28-year-old woman Anna Gallagher. Her 63-year-old mother Margaret was the passenger in the vehicle. Sadly, they both lost their lives. Grey walked away with bruises and Broderick suffered a broken leg and facial scars. 

"The impact was emotional and physical," Grey shared. "My body was never the same, my head was never the same, my ambition was never the same."

The Dirty Dancing star called off publicity for the film so that she could be by Matthew's side while he took time off to physically heal. The actor was subsequently punished for the accident. He was found guilty for careless driving and fined $175. The family of the victims called it "a travesty of justice" at the time.

Grey and Broderick called it quits in 1988. However, they both moved on to other significant others. The actor married actress Sarah Jessica Parker, they share 3 children together. Grey also went on to get married but more on that later. 


Ultimately, the actress decided to step out of the limelight. Furthermore, she attributed her lack of drive to her decision to undergo plastic surgery in 1989. Grey had constructive surgeries on her nose which noticeably altered her appearance. Fans could no longer recognize her.

"I went into the operating room a celebrity and came out anonymous," the star shared.

In consequence, Grey was unable to gain another project as beloved as Dirty Dancing. However, she continued to make appearances in shows such as Friends, The New and Old Adventures of Christine, Grey's Anatomy, and The Conners. She also starred in a short-lived ABC sitcom It's Like...You Know and even landed a spot on Dancing with the Stars.


The actress is known to have had a relationship with Pirates of the Caribbean actor Johnny Depp in 1989. The actor reportedly asked for Grey's hand in marriage during their short relationship. However, the spark didn't last as the couple broke up as fast as they made things official.

Additionally, in 1992 Grey was linked to the TV personality George Stephanopoulos. According to reports, the relationship faded. During their rise up the Hollywood ranks, Jennifer Grey and Michael J. Fox were also an item. Fox is best known for his starring role in the film series Back to the Future.


Despite Jennifer's romantic history with Michael J. Fox, she is friends with his wife Tracy Pollan. Grey and Pollan have cultivated a deep friendship as Pollan refers to the star as her "bestie". In 2019, Tracy posted a throwback photo of the two while they were both rocking their baby bumps at the beach. 

She captioned the photo: “Who wore it better? #tbt When @jennifer_grey and I rocked matching baby bumps #bestiescarryingbesties #comebacktotheinstajen. ”


In 2001, Jennifer wed the SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson actor, Clark Gregg. The Marvel star joked about people who ask whether the two reenacts the unforgettable dance scene from the classic film stating: "Yeah that's all we do actually. Each morning we wake up and I do the lift." 

"And then I put Baby in the corner. Then she stabs me with Loki's spear and we live out our film moments," the actor continued. Grey and Gregg also share a daughter named Stella, she was born just months after their wedding. The family made a home for themselves in Venice, California. 


The couple has always done things as a family unit, they try to include their daughter Stella by having her tag along to presentations and award ceremonies. In their most recent family red-carpet outing, they went out to the premiere of the film Captain Marvel in 2019. Stella is a 19-year-old now, and she could follow in the footsteps of her folks by acting. 

The 2020 high school grad worked alongside her dad in the film Trust Me, which was her big-screen debut in 2013. She also made a feature with her father in the popular series Agents of SHIELD, portraying Amy. She only has two acting credits to her name so far but the sky is the limit when your parents are Jennifer Grey and Clark Gregg.


Reports stunned fans as it was revealed that Clark Gregg filed for divorce from the 80s icon. According to documents, the Marvel actor stated that they had been living apart since January 18, the filing cites irreconcilable differences as the reason for their split. 

The actor requested that property he attained before the marriage and after the split be allocated to him. The couple has been married for 19 years and it's unknown whether they had a prenuptial agreement. Based on a statement released by the couple via their social media, it seems the divorce is amicable: 

"We recently made the difficult decision to divorce, but we remain close and are deeply grateful for the life we've shared and the wonderful daughter we've raised," they ended the statement, continuing that they were "totally crying as we post this."

Clark has agreed to pay spousal support to the Dirty Dancing actress and has requested the court to forgo his option to receive any support from the star. 


In 2010, Grey participated in one of the most popular dance competition shows on TV Dancing with the Stars. The actress partnered up with the professional dancer Derek Hough. The duo stunned viewers with their outstanding performances and earned raving reviews from the judges week after week.

Ultimately, Jessica Grey was crowned as the winner of the 11th season of the ABC dance show. The 50-year-old at the time outshined Cory in the House actor Kyle Massey and fan-favorite Bristol Palin, the daughter of former Governor Sarah Palin. 

Despite her dance experience, Grey didn't expect to win, she took on the opportunity as a challenge. "This dance experience was so much more difficult [than 'Dirty Dancing' where] I learned basically one dance over the course of months," she added. "It was a completely different level of dancing."


In August, the sequel to the hit film was confirmed to be in development by the CEO of Lionsgate Jon Feltheimer. Prior to the confirmation, rumors had been swirling when Grey had signed on to produce and act in an undisclosed dance film. Another detail that led to the rumors was that the film would be set in the 90s. 

The film will be created by Jonathan Levine, the director who made Seth Rogen films 50/50 and Long Shot. Levine will collaborate with his long-time partner Gillian Bohrer. In a statement about the film's sequel, the Lionsgate CEO stated

"It will be exactly the kind of romantic, nostalgic movie that the franchise’s fans have been waiting for, and that have made it the biggest-selling library title in the Company’s history." 

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