|Born||April 2, 1911
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||November 12, 1992
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Marian Coles (?-2013)|
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Coles developed his high-speed rhythm tapping on the streets of his hometown. He first went to New York City as one of the Three Millers, who were known for their intricate and difficult dance steps executed on tiny platforms. He later returned to headline at the Apollo Theater.
In 1940, while dancing with Cab Calloway's band, he met and teamed with Charles "Cholly" Atkins. As Coles & Atkins, their routine opened with a fast-paced song and tap number, followed by a precision swing dance, a soft shoe, and a tap-challenge. Their partnership lasted nineteen years.
Coles made his Broadway debut in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1949. He also appeared in Bubbling Brown Sugar and My One and Only, for which he received both the Tony and Drama Desk Award for his performance.
In 1991, Coles was awarded the National Medal of Arts. He was inducted, posthumously, into the Tap Dance Hall of Fame in 2003.
"2003 Inductee: Charles "Honi" Coles". Tap Dance Hall of Fame. American Tap Dance Foundation. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-06.