With the remake of Dirty Dancing airing tonight, May 24, on ABC, fans of the original 1987 film have been reminiscing about the classic romance.
One question on everyone’s minds: whatever happened to the actress who played Penny? The dramatic role broke barriers with its controversial storyline, in which the dance instructor undergoes a botched abortion.
“She’s got an edge to her,” Cynthia Rhodes, who played Penny Johnson, said in a past interview. “She’s got a sweetness about her but it’s put back because she’s had hard times, and she’s sort of put up a wall.”
Dirty Dancing is without a doubt Cynthia’s most recognized role, but most of the now 60-year-old’s film career took place before she starred as the former Rockette. The Nashville native appeared in Xanadu and Flashdance before landing the part of John Travolta’s love interest Jackie in the 1983 movie Staying Alive. Her last screen credit was for the 1991 action-adventure Curse of the Crystal Eye.
Cynthia with former husband Richard Marx in 2002.
Although Cynthia has barely spoken to the press since she left Hollywood behind, we do know that she married singer-songwriter Richard Marx in 1989 and quit acting to focus on raising their three boys. The couple got divorced in 2014.
Cynthia spoke fondly of her last major role and her co-stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. “First of all, Patrick is a trained dancer, and I think, for a long time because he’s such a fabulous actor I don’t know if people ever really took him seriously… He floored me,” she previously shared of the star, who passed away in 2009. “And Jennifer… she’s such a natural. And such a hard worker.”
Unfortunately for us, Cynthia hasn’t shared her thoughts about the Dirty Dancing remake publicly, but you can catch the reboot tonight, May 24, at 8 p.m. EST on ABC!