Ragtime and Piano Lesson Actor Tommy Hollis Is Dead

Obituaries   Ragtime and Piano Lesson Actor Tommy Hollis Is Dead The Broadway actor Tommy Hollis, the strong-voiced Booker T. Washington of Broadway's Ragtime, has died, according to colleagues in the theatre community.
Tommy Hollis as Booker T. Washington in Ragtime.
Tommy Hollis as Booker T. Washington in Ragtime. (Photo by Photo by Catherine Ashmore)

The Broadway actor Tommy Hollis, the strong-voiced Booker T. Washington of Broadway's Ragtime, has died, according to colleagues in the theatre community.

He died in his New York apartment Sept. 9, according to a representative at his agent's office. Sources in the theatre community say a heart attack may have felled the actor, who distinguished himself in plays by August Wilson, and as the voice of clear headed reason in the musical, Ragtime. Mr. Hollis' age was not immediately known.

Mr. Hollis won a Theatre World Award for appearing as Rev. Avery in Broadway's The Piano Lesson, a role he later recreated for the TV film of the August Wilson drama. In Wilson's Seven Guitars on Broadway, Mr. Hollis played Red Carter. He also created roles in George C. Wolfe's The Colored Museum in New York, London, Los Angeles and for the PBS production.

He originated the role of Bailey in Gloria Naylor's Bailey's Cafe and had a recurring role on the TV series, "I'll Fly Away." He played a featured role in Charles Fuller's "Zooman" for Showtime and in TV's "Separate But Equal" with Sidney Poitier and in Alex Haley's "Queen."

He played Malcolm X's father in the Spike Lee film, "Malcolm X," and was Fat Willie in Mike Nichols' "Primary Colors." His TV credits also included "The Vernon Johns Story" and the miniseries "Stay the Night."

A memorial service is being planned.