Gregory Oliver Hines, a Tony Award-winning actor and dancer, died on Aug. 9 from cancer. He was 57.
When he was a child, Hines’ mother encouraged him and his older brother, Maurice, to study tap dancing as a way to get out of the ghetto. Maurice took lessons and then came home and taught Hines the steps he had learned. They performed together at the Apollo, in the Broadway musical, “The Girl in Pink Tights,” and in the Francis Ford Coppola film, “The Cotton Club.”
Hines joined forces with Maurice and his father, Maurice Robert Hines Sr., in 1963 to create the act, Hines, Hines and Dad. The family performed together for a decade on the nightclub circuit and on television.
In 1981, Hines landed his first film role as a Roman slave in the Mel Brooks comedy, “History of the World Part I.” He showed off his tap dancing mastery when he starred alongside veteran hoofers Sammy Davis Jr. and Sandman Sims in “Tap.” Hines also acted in dozens of successful movies, including “Running Scared,” “Renaissance Man” and “Waiting to Exhale.”
Between movie jobs, Hines made numerous guest appearances on television, and headlined his own CBS sitcom, “The Gregory Hines Show,” in 1997. He appeared on Broadway and co-hosted the Tony Awards last year with Bernadette Peters.
Hines took home his own Tony for best actor in a musical in 1993 for playing jazz legend “Jelly Roll” Morton in “Jelly’s Last Jam.” He 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 two NAACP Image Awards for “Bojangles” and “Running Scared.”