A car crash and a career-ruining nose job: Jennifer Grey's life after Dirty Dancing.


In 1987, Jennifer Grey had it all.

She was the star of one of the most iconic movies of all time, Dirty Dancing. Playing Baby, she had the moves, and on-screen, she had the man with the moves, Patrick Swayze.

Grey had already starred in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, another ‘80s smash hit.

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At 27, her future was promising; but life was about to serve her some serious curveballs.

Now she’s just turned 60, we look at the major ups and downs she’s enjoyed and overcome in just a few decades.

Grey’s early years.

Grey, born March 26, 1960, is the daughter of celebrated acting couple Jo Wilder and Joel Grey. Joel won an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for his performance as the Master of Ceremonies in the 1972 film of the musical Cabaret.

Joel was also a trained dancer, which is where Grey got her love of dance. She attended Dalton school for performing arts, where she met her best friend, Tracy Pollen – Michael J. Fox’s future wife.



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the times of our lives… #oscarthrowback #patrick #patrickswayze #dirtydancing #80s #thetimeofourlives

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Grey’s acting career before Dirty Dancing.

Before playing the iconic roles of Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman in Dirty Dancing, and Jeanie in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Grey starred with Swayze in 1984’s Red Dawn.

It was reported at the time that the pair did not like each other, but their undeniable on-screen chemistry lead to a lifetime friendship.

A car crash with Matthew Broderick, and cancer.

Nine days before the premiere of Dirty Dancing, the Manhattan native was involved in a head-on collision while vacationing in Ireland with actor Matthew Broderick, her then boyfriend. Two occupants of the car Broderick hit, a mother and her daughter, were killed.


Grey sustained significant whiplash, and several ligaments in the back of her neck were torn. Her injuries prevented her from dancing for years, and the emotional toll of being involved in the incident meant Grey did not act for some time afterwards.

“I tried massage, heat pads, ice, anti-inflammatories; anything and everything that could offer relief,” Grey said at the time.


In 2009, in preparation for competing on Dancing with the Stars, Grey finally underwent surgery to address her pain.

“I had been suffering for so long and didn’t fully realise how pain had taken control of my life,” Grey said.

“I stopped doing so many things that I loved, including dancing, because I didn’t want to make the pain worse.”

Whilst being examined for her surgery, a small cancerous node was found on Grey’s thyroid, and removed. She has since been cancer-free.

Grey went on the win the eleventh series of the dance competition, with dance partner Derek Hough.


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happy birthday @realmikejfox! ol’ friends are the best friends! we love you soooo!!! #kids #OG

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A ‘career-ending’ nose job.

In the early 1990s, Grey had corrective surgery performed on the shape of her nose. It would be a decision the actor came to deeply regret.

The nose job changed her profile so much, Grey said that even close friends didn’t recognise her. It also took away her ‘uniqueness’; one of the qualities for which she was cast as Baby.

“I went in the operating room a celebrity and came out anonymous,” she’s said since, in acknowledgement of the effect on her career.

“It was like being in a witness protection program, or being invisible.”

Grey felt the impact was so great that she even considered changing her name to relaunch her career. However, she did eventually go on to work more.

From 1999 to 2000, Grey starred as herself in It’s Like, You Know…, which satirised her nose job as a running gag.

And then from 2014 to 2017, Grey played Judy Meyers on Red Oaks.  In 2018, Grey appeared in the film Untogether.

Grey’s romantic relationships.

Grey was romantically linked with Johnny Depp (around 1989), Michael J. Fox (about 1986, before he began dating her best friend, and his future wife, Tracy Pollan), and then Matthew Broderick (about 1987).


However, because of her own acting merit and iconic roles, none of these high-profile relationships has defined Grey’s public identity.

Grey married actor Clark Gregg in July 2001, and had daughter Stella later that year.

The couple separated in January this year. In a joint statement, released in July, they said:

"After 19 years together, we separated in January, knowing we'd always be a family who loves, values and cares for each other," their statement began, which was posted alongside a photo of the pair sharing an embrace.

"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 concluded the statement, adding that they were "totally crying as we post this."

Ageing in Hollywood

Grey turned 60 in March this year, but doesn't place too much importance on it. 

Speaking to PEOPLE, she said: 

"I really don’t give too much weight to chronological age, even though the world wants to tell you it means something. But to me, it’s as abstract and random as anything, because I know a million people who are very young who behave like they’re ancient. I know my grandmother, who was 93 when she died, was dancing and making art and walking and living independently. I think that it’s all about how you live, not how long you live."

Feature Image: Instagram / Getty