Lisa Niemi: What Has Patrick Swayze’s Widow Been Up To?

Lisa Niemi: What Has Patrick Swayze’s Widow Been Up To?

Lisa Anne Happaniemi Swayze DePriso, who is commonly known as Lisa Niemi, is an American professional dancer, actress, choreographer, film director, and producer. She has thrived in her various endeavors but her major claim to fame remains her over three-decade marriage to late Hollywood actor and dancer, Patrick Swayze. Niemi and Swayze were a Hollywood power couple who worked together while their relationship lasted. They pursued a dance career together, worked on many movies as a team, and even co-wrote a memoir before Swayze died in 2009.

While Lisa Niemi achieved most of her earlier career milestones with her late husband, she has continued to thrive, though mostly behind the cameras. Niemi published another book following her husband’s death and it became a New York Times Best Seller like the previous one. Her career has grown from the formative years when she took acting classes at Houston’s Alley Theater.

Lisa Niemi was Born in Texas

Lisa Niemi

Though Lisa Niemi hails from a mixed background, she is an American by nationality. Niemi was born in Houston Texas on May 26, 1956. She grew up in a Finnish-American home as the only girl among five boys born to her father, Edmond Melvin Haapaniemi, and mother, Edna Karin Haapaniemi. Her father worked as a Red Cross worker while her mom was a registered nurse and their professions inspired Niemi.

To sharpen her professional skills Lisa Niemi enrolled at the High School For the Performing Arts as a dance major. She also studied with the Harkness Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. In 1977, Niemi adopted a shorter version of her surname as her stage name which stuck with her. Instead of Haapaniemi (meaning “Aspen Cape”), she chose Niemi which means “Cape.”

She Began Her Career in 1975

Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi

Lisa Niemi was 10 when she began taking acting classes at Houston’s Alley Theater. She appeared in small roles in projects such as a Paramount Pictures TV pilot titled Two Boys and some children’s musicals at Houston Music Theater. She moved to New York in 1974 and began performing with other dancers and Broadway shows. Shortly afterward, she moved to Los Angeles with her husband, engaging in numerous acting projects across films and television. She also wrote and directed the play Without a Word alongside Swayze, winning six Drama Critics Awards, including Best Play, Writing, Direction, and Performance.

Lisa Niemi’s screen credits date back to 1987 when she debuted in three projects – Max Headroom, Slam Dance, and Steel Dawn. She wrapped the ’80s with She’s Having a Baby (1988) and Next of Kin (1989). Niemi’s career started gaining mainstream recognition in the 1990s with her role in the TV series Super Force. Other notable projects credited to her include Younger and Younger (1993), One Last Dance (2003), and Beat Angel (2004).

She is a Published Author

Niemi celebrates her anniversary with Swayze

Lisa Niemi co-wrote Patrick Swayze‘s memoir with him just before he died in 2009. The memoir titled The Time of My Life became a New York Times Best Seller and received international recognition. The memoir encapsulates the couple’s love story and the milestones they achieved in Hollywood together. After Swayze’s death, Lisa wrote another memoir, Worth Fighting For, chronicling her last days with the actor. The second memoir also became a New York Times Best Seller.

Lisa Niemi and Patrick Swayze were Married For 34 Years

Swayze in his last days with Niemi

Lisa Niemi met Patrick Swayze at the Houston Ballet Dance Company when she was 14. She married him on June 12, 1975, at age 19 while he was 23. Their marriage was made up of good memories as a couple who worked together. In addition to acting and dancing, they were business partners, running a construction enterprise and horse ranching. Niemi remained married to Swayze until complications from pancreatic cancer claimed his life on September 14, 2009. The marriage produced no children.

Lisa Niemi Found Love Again

Lisa Niemi

After the death of her husband, Lisa Niemi found love again. She became engaged to a jeweler named Albert DePrisco on December 28, 2013, and married him on May 25, 2014. She is still involved in activities that immortalize the memory of her late husband.

What is Lisa Niemi Doing Now?


Since her first husband’s death, Lisa Niemi has not stopped honoring him. She is heavily involved in charity and behind-the-scenes projects. Niemi was made the Chief Ambassador of Hope for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and became the AARP Inspire Awards Recipient in 2011 for making the world a better place. Niemi also serves as the National Spokesperson for Pancreatic Cancer Action Network which helps raise awareness and provide research funding for the deadly disease.

Tower Cancer Research Foundation and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network honored her with the Spirit of Hope Award. Niemi also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Michael Bolton Charities. She was bestowed the title of Dame of the Royal Order of Francis I of the Two Sicilies on July 16, 2011, at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles. Lisa Niemi spends most of her time in her Los Angeles home and her ranch in New Mexico. Check out some of Patrick Swayze’s best movies.

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