Gregory Hines, Tony-Winning Tap-Dance Wizard, Dead at 57

Obituaries   Gregory Hines, Tony-Winning Tap-Dance Wizard, Dead at 57 Tap-dancing actor-singer Gregory Hines, recognized as part of a rich tradition of African-American tap masters, died Aug. 9 of cancer, his publicist said.
Gregory Hines
Gregory Hines

Mr. Hines, who, with his brother Maurice, appeared as an act for several years (including in the musical, Eubie!) before they took separate performance jobs, won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for Jelly's Last Jam, for which he was also nominated for a Best Choreography. He played the title character. His alternately meditative and explosive choreography was seen in the film, "The Cotton Club," which also featured his brother. In the 1989 film, "Tap," some of Mr. Hines' tap-dance heroes, including Sammy Davis Jr., Sandman Sims, Harold Nicholas and Jimmy Slyde, appeared in the tribute to tap, a tale of a man who cannot escape the dance tradition.

In turn, Mr. Hines was an inspiration to the younger generation of tappers, including Savion Glover, the young wizard who helped created Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk.

Mr. Hines was nominated for Tonys for Best Actor in a Musical in 1980 and 1981, respectively, for Comin' Uptown and Sophisticated Ladies 1981. He was also nommed in 1979 for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Eubie!

Mr. Hines also played a tap-dancing Feste in starred-studded Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night. His co-stars in the 1989 staging were Michelle Pfieffer, Jeff Goldblum and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

He took dramatic roles in the films, "Running Scared," "White Nights" and "Waiting to Exhale." On the TV comedy "Will and Grace," he was Will's boss and Grace's lover (and danced a tap routine on one episode). He also starred in "The Gregory Hines Show."

Gregory Hines (R) with Savion Glover in <i>Jelly's Last Jam</i>.
Gregory Hines (R) with Savion Glover in Jelly's Last Jam. Photo by Martha Swope