The Mighty Logo

Mandy Patinkin Confirms His Father's Death Influenced His 'Princess Bride' Character

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I have always loved “The Princess Bride.” It is easily one of my all-time favorite stories. And honestly what’s not to love? It is memorable, relatable, and thoroughly enjoyable. There is something for everyone. Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True Love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest Ladies. Snakes. Spiders… Pain. Death. Brave men. Cowardly men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles. I have admittedly read the novel well over a dozen times and have seen the movie more times than I can count or care to admit. So needless to say, whenever anything even remotely related to “The Princess Bride” is in the news, I immediately gravitate right towards it. What I did not expect, however, was that this latest story with Mandy Patinkin would hit so close to home and resonate so deeply.

Recently, TikTok user Amanda Webb, who goes by the handle @Alaska_Webb, shared how she, as someone who has recently lost her father to cancer, related to the scene in “The Princess Bride” where Inigo Montoya confronts Count Rugen for murdering his father. In her video, she also talked about a rumor she had heard that the raw emotion displayed by Mandy Patinkin, the actor who portrayed Inigo, in that infamous scene was due to the fact that Mandy himself had lost his father to cancer. In her now-viral video, she asked for confirmation that it was true because, as a lifelong “Princess Bride” fan who had lost her father to cancer as well, it would make that movie mean even more to her.

@alaska_webbstill grieving @mandypatinktok #princesspride #cancer #grieving #80sbaby #NeverStopExploring♬ original sound – Amanda Webb

Though she admitted in her video that she honestly did not ever expect to hear back from Mandy Patinkin himself, he stunned her and pulled at the heartstrings of “Princess Bride” fans everywhere when his son recorded him reacting to her video and making a very personal video response to her confirming the story.

As someone who has also lost her father to cancer, I found myself in tears, sobbing over not only my own pain, but also her pain, his pain, the overwhelming grief that comes from such a tragic loss and ties us all together.

I keep hearing from some people, especially from those who have not seemingly experienced any sort of true loss themselves, that grief will get better in time.

Grief. They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.

Grief is heavy, painful, torturous. It is a hole in your heart that nothing else can ever fill and a wound on your soul that never heals. Grief does not dissipate over time. You just learn to live with the pain. Grief is present at every holiday and milestone. It is triggered by everyday, mundane things and connections to memories of the past. It is an empty chair filled with anger and heartbreak over the fact that you’ll never get to create another new memory ever again, never feel their arms around you, never get to tell them again that you love them, miss them, that you are sorry, or a million other words you regret not saying while there was still time left to say them. Grief is wishing with every fiber of your being you could have one more year, one more day, one more minute with them.

Death is a normal part of life. People are born, they live their lives, and they eventually die. It is the circle of life in a nutshell. Even when it is expected in old age, it isn’t easy. But deaths that occur before then, such as those from cancer, are especially hard because they are thoroughly unexpected. Cancer has a tendency to sweep in quickly and silently, decimating everything in its wake.

I lost my father just over a decade ago to cancer. He first told me of his diagnosis in the spring of 2010. He went through surgery and chemo. It came back again. Another round of surgery and chemo, but again it returned. For a little over half a year, we were on that nightmarish roller coaster ride together, before it eventually spread to his lymph nodes and there was nothing more his doctors could do. The anniversary of the day he went into hospice just passed and the anniversary of his death will be upon me shortly. I would love to say that the grief of his loss has gotten easier over the last 11 years, but I am a woman of action. Lies do not become me.

I understand all too well how Mandy Patinkin related his character Inigo’s journey of vengeance against the six-fingered man to him personally wanting to exact revenge against the cancer that robbed him of his own father. I, too, wish that I could physically strike cancer down, inflict upon it even a fraction of the pain that it has caused me. I wish I could scream directly at it, demanding it give me my father back. But unfortunately, unlike “The Princess Bride,” life is not a fairy tale. No amount of exacting vengeance could ever bring him back. He isn’t just mostly dead, and there is no Miracle Max with a magic pill. My dad is gone. Dead. Forever. It isn’t fair. Cancer isn’t fair. None of this is fair, but there is nothing that can change anything. To quote “The Princess Bride:” “But I also have to say, for the umpty-umpth time, that life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”

At the same time, I know I cannot let his death from cancer rob me of my life as well. Instead of focusing on the rage and the pain over things I cannot change, I feel that I must cherish the memories of the good times we shared together. And I must keep living, making new memories, even if they at times feel bittersweet because he is not there to share them with me. Because I know that is what he would want for me: to live and love, to experience life and have my own great adventures. He would not want me to stop living simply because he died.

I know that, at first, loss may feel like going overboard in dark, dangerous waters where you’re not sure if you’re going to drown in your tears or be devoured alive by grief larger and more treacherous than the shrieking eels. But I also feel like, in true Princess Bride fashion, I must interrupt to point out that we do not get eaten at this time. We have a lot of living left to do. Many of us may have lost someone we loved dearly to cancer, but our own stories are not over.

So please remember that you’re not alone — I mean it!

Anybody want a peanut?

Image via Twitter.

Originally published: August 30, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home