LOS ANGELES (Reuters) Sunday, August 10, 2003
Gregory Hines, the Tony Award-winning tap-dancing actor who starred on Broadway
as well as in many films, including "The Cotton Club," has died at the age
of 57, his publicist said on Sunday.
Hines, considered one of the top dancers of his generation, died Saturday
night in Los Angeles of cancer, said Allen Eichhorn, a spokesman for Hines.
The native New Yorker, who won a 1992 Tony for the musical "Jelly's Last
Jam," first found fame performing jazz tap with his brother Maurice, working
together in the musical revue "Eubie!" in 1978 and in "Sophisticated Ladies."
Born on Feb. 14, 1946, in New York City, Hines had said his mother steered
her sons toward tap dancing as a way to escape the ghetto.
By the time he was five, Hine was already performing, and the two brothers
danced at the famed Apollo theater for two weeks when he was just six. In
his teens, the brothers also performed with their father, Maurice Sr., who
Later he earned Tony nominations on Broadway in "Eubie!," "Comin' Uptown"
and "Sophisticated Ladies."
Hines had a falling out with his older brother in the late 1960s when he
wanted to perform to rock music and write his own songs. In 1973, the family
act disbanded and Hines moved to Venice Beach, California.
But they reconciled a few years later and began performing in various Broadway
Hines landed his first film role in the 1981 Mel Brooks comedy "History of
the World Part I," in which he played a Roman slave as a last-minute replacement
for Richard Pryor.
Landing a leading role in Francis Ford Coppola's hit "The Cotton Club" in
the mid-1980s cleared the way for more film work, including "White Nights,"
in which he starred with Mikhail Baryshnikov and with Billy Crystal in 1986's
Hines also appeared with Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett in 1995's "Waiting
to Exhale," among other movies.
Hines nabbed several Emmy Award nominations, most recently in 2001 for his
lead role in the mini-series "Bojangles."
His PBS special "Gregory Hines: Tap Dance in America" was nominated in 1989.
On television, he had his own sitcom in 1997 called "The Gregory Hines Show,"
and a recurring role on "Will and Grace."
This spring, he appeared in the spring television series "Lost at Home."
Hines is survived by his fiance, Negrita Jayde, his daughter, Daria, his
son, Zach, his stepdaughter, Jessica Koslow and his grandson, Lucian, Eichhorn
said. Hines had been married twice. He is also survived by his older brother
Maurice and father Maurice Sr., who he had performed with. A private funeral
will be held in Los Angeles this week.
Gregory Hines, Tap-Dancing Actor, Dies at 57
August 10, 2003 NEW YORK TIMES
(AP) -- Gregory Hines, the greatest tap dancer of his generation who transcended
the stage with a successful screen career that included starring roles in
``White Nights'' and ``The Cotton Club,'' has died at 57.
Hines died of cancer Saturday in Los Angeles, publicist Allen Eichhorn said
With his smooth, solo tap style reminiscent of Fred Astaire, Hines became
internationally known at a young age as part of a jazz tap duo with his brother,
Maurice. He won a 1992 Tony Award for the musical ``Jelly's Last Jam.''
``His dancing came from something very real,'' said Bernadette Peters, who
appeared with Hines as co-hosts of the 2002 Tony Awards show. ``It came out
of his instincts, his impulses and his amazing creativity. His whole heart
and soul went into everything he did.''
``He was the last of a kind of immaculate performer -- a singer, dancer,
actor and a personality,'' said George C. Wolfe, who directed ``Jelly.''
``He knew how to command.''
Hines and his brother performed together in the musical revue ``Eubie!''
in 1978, in Broadway's ``Sophisticated Ladies'' and on film in 1984's ``The
In ``The Cotton Club,'' Hines also had a lead acting role, which led to more
offers from Hollywood. He starred with Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1985's Cold
War-era dancers' story ``White Nights'' and with Billy Crystal in 1986's
``Running Scared,'' and he appeared with Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett
in 1995's ``Waiting to Exhale,'' among other movies.
On television, he had his own series in 1997 called ``The Gregory Hines Show,''
as well as a recurring role on ``Will and Grace.'' Last March, he appeared
in the spring television series ``Lost at Home.''
Gregory Oliver Hines was born on Feb. 14, 1946, in New York City. He has
said his mother urged him and his older brother toward tap dancing because
she wanted them to have a way out of the ghetto.
When he was a toddler, his brother was already taking tap lessons and would
come home and teach him steps. They began performing together when Gregory
Hines was 5, and they performed at the Apollo Theater in Harlem for two weeks
when he was 6. In 1954, they were cast in the Broadway musical ``The Girl
in Pink Tights,'' starring French ballerina Jeanmaire.
``I don't remember not dancing,'' Hines said in a 2001 interview with The
Associated Press. ``When I realized I was alive and these were my parents,
and I could walk and talk, I could dance.''
Sammy Davis Jr. was one of young Gregory Hines' inspirations, as were the
Nicholas Brothers and Bill ``Bojangles'' Robinson. Hines drew on Robinson's
style for some of his work in ``Jelly's Last Jam.''
Paired with brother Maurice, he was a professional child star. In his teens,
joined by their father, Maurice Sr., on drums, they were known as Hines,
Hines and Dad.
But there was a time, Hines said in the 2001 interview, that he didn't want
to dance. He was in his mid-20s, ``a hippie'' in a brief moment of rebellion.
``I felt that I didn't want to be in show business anymore. I felt that I
wanted to be a farmer,'' he said with a laugh. Invited to work on a farm
in upstate New York, he quickly learned a lesson. Beginning before dawn,
``I was milking cows and shoveling terrible stuff and working all day. By
the end of the day, all I wanted was my tap shoes -- I thought, `What am
I doing? I better get back where I belong on the stage where we work at night
and can sleep late!'''
Hines had a falling out with his older brother in the late 1960s because
the younger was becoming influenced by counterculture and wanted to perform
to rock music and write his songs. In 1973, the family act disbanded and
Hines moved to Venice Beach.
``I was going through a lot of changes,'' Hines told the Washington Post
in 1981. ``Marriage. We'd just had a child. Divorce. I was finding myself.''
He returned to New York in 1978, partly to be near his daughter, Daria, who
was living with Hines' first wife, dance therapist Patricia Panella. His
brother, with whom he had reconciled, told him about an audition for the
Broadway-bound ``The Last Minstrel Show.'' He gotthe part, but the show opened
and closed in Philadelphia.
The brothers reunited onstage for ``Eubie!'' a homage to composer Eubie Blake,
choreographed by LeTang. Gregory Hines was lauded for his singing of ``Low
Down Blues'' and his rat-tat-tat tapping during ``Hot Feet.'' He won several
awards, and was nominated for a Tony.
Hines also earned Tony nominations for ``Comin' Uptown'' and ``Sophisticated
Ladies,'' and he won a Tony for best actor in a musical playing jazz legend
``Jelly Roll'' Morton in ``Jelly's Last Jam.'' Tony-winning choreographer
and dancer Savion Glover, a protege of Hines, danced the roll of the young
Morton in the Broadway show.
Hines landed his first film role in the 1981 Mel Brooks comedy ``History
of the World Part I,'' in which he played a Roman slave as a last-minute
replacement for Richard Pryor. He has since been nominated for a number of
awards, most recently an Emmy in 2001 for his lead role in the miniseries
His PBS special, ``Gregory Hines: Tap Dance in America,'' was nominated in
1989, and in 1982 he was nominated for his performance in ``I Love Liberty,''
a variety special saluting America. He was nominated in 1985 for a performance
on ``Motown Returns to the Apollo.''
He also won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1999 for his work as the voice of ``Big
Bill'' in the Bill Cosby animated TV series, ``Little Bill,'' and NAACP Image
Awards for ``Bojangles'' and ``Running Scared.''
Hines was engaged to Negrita Jayde and, in addition to his father and brother,
is survived by his daughter Daria, son Zach and stepdaughter Jessica.