Gregory Oliver Hines
February 14, 1946
New York City, U.S.
|Died||August 9, 2003 (aged 57)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Saint Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery |
Oakville, Ontario, Canada
|Spouse(s)||Patricia Panella |
(m. 1968; div. 1972)
(m. 1981; div. 2000)
|Partner(s)||Negrita Jayde |
|Relatives||Maurice Hines (brother)|
Gregory Oliver Hines (February 14, 1946 – August 9, 2003) was an American dancer, actor, choreographer, and singer. He is one of the most celebrated tap dancers of all time. As an actor, he is best known for Wolfen (1981), The Cotton Club (1984), White Nights (1985), and Running Scared (1986), The Gregory Hines Show (1997-1998), Ben on Will & Grace (1999-2000), and for voicing Big Bill on the Nick Jr. animated children's television program Little Bill (1999-2004).
Hines starred in more than 40 films and also appeared on Broadway. He received many accolades, including a Daytime Emmy Award, a Drama Desk Award, and a Tony Award, as well as nominations for a Screen Actors Guild Award and four Primetime Emmy Awards.
Hines was born in New York City on February 14, 1946 to Alma Iola (Lawless) and Maurice Robert Hines, a dancer, musician, and actor, and grew up in the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Harlem. He began tap dancing when he was two years old, and began dancing semi-professionally at age five. After that, he and his older brother Maurice performed together, studying with choreographer Henry LeTang.
Gregory and Maurice also studied with veteran tap dancers such as Howard Sims and The Nicholas Brothers when they performed at the same venues. The brothers were known as The Hines Kids, making nightclub appearances at venues in Miami, Florida, with Cab Calloway. They were later known as The Hines Brothers.
Hines was an avid improviser of tap steps, tap sounds, and tap rhythms alike. His improvisation was like that of a drummer, doing a solo and coming up with rhythms. He also improvised the phrasing of a number of tap steps, mainly based on sound produced. A laid-back dancer, he usually wore loose fitting pants and a tighter shirt.
Although he inherited the roots and tradition of the black rhythmic tap, he also promoted the new black rhythmic tap. "He purposely obliterated the tempos," wrote tap historian Sally Sommer, "throwing down a cascade of taps like pebbles tossed across the floor. In that moment, he aligned tap with the latest free form experiments in jazz and new music and postmodern dance."
Throughout his career, Hines wanted and continued to be an advocate for tap in America. He successfully petitioned the creation of National Tap Dance Day in May 1989, which is now celebrated in forty cities in the United States, as well as eight other nations. He was on the board of directors of Manhattan Tap, a member of the Jazz Tap Ensemble, and a member of the American Tap Dance Foundation, which was formerly called the American Tap Dance Orchestra.
In 1990, Hines visited his idol (and Tap co-star) Sammy Davis Jr., who was dying of throat cancer and was unable to speak. After Davis died, an emotional Hines spoke at Davis's funeral of how Sammy made a gesture to him, "as if passing a basketball ... and I caught it." Hines spoke of the honor that Sammy thought that Hines could carry on from where he left off.
Through his teaching, he influenced tap dancers such as Savion Glover, Dianne Walker, Ted Levy, and Jane Goldberg. In an interview with The New York Times in 1988, Hines said that everything he did was influenced by his dancing: "my singing, my acting, my lovemaking, my being a parent."
Hines made his Broadway debut with his brother in The Girl in Pink Tights in 1954. He earned Tony Award nominations for Eubie! (1979), Comin' Uptown (1980), and Sophisticated Ladies (1981), and won the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Jelly's Last Jam (1992) and the Theatre World Award for Eubie!.
Hines performed as the lead singer and musician in a rock band called Severance based in Venice, Los Angeles in 1975 and 1976. Severance was one of the house bands at an original music club called Honky Hoagies Handy Hangout, otherwise known as the 4H Club. Severance released their self-titled debut album on Largo Records (a subsidiary of GNP Crescendo) in 1976.
In 1986, he sang a duet with Luther Vandross called "There's Nothing Better Than Love", which reached the No. 1 position on the Billboard R&B charts. Encouraged by his first success on the chart, Hines subsequently released his self-titled debut album on Epic in 1988 with much support of Vandross. This album produced a Vandross-penned single "That Girl Wants to Dance with Me", which peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1988.
Film and television
In 1981, Hines made his movie debut in Mel Brooks's History of the World, Part I, replacing Richard Pryor, who was originally cast in the role but suffered severe burns in a house fire just days before he was due to begin shooting. Madeline Kahn, also starring in the film, suggested to director Mel Brooks that he look into Hines for the role after they learned of Pryor's hospitalization. He appeared in the horror film Wolfen later that year.
Hines's peak as an actor came in the mid-1980s. He had a large role in The Cotton Club (1984), where he and his brother Maurice (in Maurice's sole film credit) played a 1930s tap-dancing duo reminiscent of the Nicholas Brothers. Hines co-starred with Mikhail Baryshnikov in the 1985 film White Nights, and co-starred with Billy Crystal in the 1986 buddy cop film Running Scared. He starred in the 1989 film Tap opposite Sammy Davis Jr. (in Davis's last screen performance). He appeared alongside Whitney Houston and Loretta Devine in the highly successful 1995 film Waiting to Exhale and opposite Houston, Denzel Washington and Courtney B. Vance the following year in The Preacher's Wife. On television, he starred in his own sitcom in 1997, The Gregory Hines Show, which ran for one season on CBS, and had a recurring role of Ben Doucette on Will & Grace.
In an interview in 1987, Hines said that he often looked for roles written for white actors, "preferring their greater scope and dynamics." Of his role in Running Scared, for example, he said that he enjoyed that his character had sex scenes, because "usually, the black guy has no sexuality at all."
Hines starred in the 1998 film The Tic Code. He voiced Big Bill in the Nick Jr. animated children series Little Bill, which ran from 1999 to 2004. He won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for the role in 2003.
Hines co-hosted the Tony Awards ceremony in 1995 and 2002.
Hines's marriages to Patricia Panella and Pamela Koslow ended in divorce. He had two children, a son named Zach and a daughter named Daria, as well as a stepdaughter named Jessica Koslow, and a grandson.
Hines died of liver cancer on August 9, 2003 en route to the hospital from his home in Los Angeles. He was diagnosed with the disease more than one year earlier, but informed only his closest friends. At the time of his death, production of the television show Little Bill was ending, and he was engaged to bodybuilder Negrita Jayde, who was based in Toronto.
On January 28, 2019, the United States Postal Service honored Hines with a postage stamp as part of its Black Heritage Series. It was issued with a ceremony at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts.
Awards and nominations
- 1979 Theatre World Award—Eubie!
- 1988 Image Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Motion Picture — Running Scared
- 1992 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical — Jelly's Last Jam
- 1992 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical — Jelly's Last Jam
- 1998 Flo-Bert Award — Lifetime Achievement in Tap Dance by the New York Committee to Celebrate National Tap Dance Day
- 2002 Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini Series or Dramatic Special — Bojangles
- 2003 Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program — Little Bill
- 1979 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical—Eubie!
- 1980 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical—Comin' Uptown
- 1981 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical—Sophisticated Ladies
- 1982 Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement—Special Class—I Love Liberty
- 1985 Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program—Motown Returns to the Apollo
- 1989 Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program—Great Performances: Tap Dance in America
- 1992 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography—Jelly's Last Jam
- 1992 Tony Award for Best Choreography—Jelly's Last Jam
- 1995 Image Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Motion Picture—Waiting to Exhale
- 1998 American Comedy Awards Funniest Male Guest Appearance in a TV Series—Will & Grace
- 1998 Image Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series—The Gregory Hines Show
- 2001 Black Reel Awards Network/Cable Best Actor—Bojangles
- 2001 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie—Bojangles
- 2001 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries—Bojangles
- 2003 Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special—The Red Sneakers
- 2003 Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Children's Special—The Red Sneakers
- Finian's Rainbow (1968) — Child Extra
- History of the World, Part I (1981) — Josephus
- Wolfen (1981) — Coroner Whittington
- Deal of the Century (1983) — Ray Kasternak
- The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) — Roller Skater
- The Cotton Club (1984) — 'Sandman' Williams
- White Nights (1985) — Raymond Greenwood
- Faerie Tale Theatre: "Puss in Boots" (1985) — Edgar
- Amazing Stories: (TV) "The Amazing Falsworth" (1985) — Falsworth
- About Tap (1985) — Himself
- Running Scared (1986) — Detective Ray Hughes
- Off Limits (1988) — Albaby Perkins
- Tap (1989) — Max Washington
- Gregory Hines' Saigon (1987) — Himself
- Gregory Hines' Tap Dance in America (1989) — Himself
- Eve of Destruction (1991) — Colonel Jim McQuade
- A Rage in Harlem (1991) — 'Goldy'
- White Lie (1991) — Len Madison Jr.
- T Bone N Weasel (1992) — 'T-Bone'
- Dead Air (1994) — Mark Jannek / Jim Sheppard
- Renaissance Man (1994) — Sergeant Cass
- Kangaroo Court (1994)
- Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child (1995, Episode "Beauty and the Beast") — The Beast / Prince Koro (voice)
- A Stranger in Town (1995) — Barnes
- Waiting to Exhale (1995) — Marvin King
- Good Luck (1996) — Bernard 'Bern' Lemley
- Mad Dog Time (1996) — Jules Flamingo
- The Preacher's Wife (1996) — Joe Hamilton
- The Cherokee Kid (1996) - Jedediah Turner / The Undertaker
- Subway Stories: Tales From the Underground (1997) — Jack (segment "Manhattan Miracle")
- The Gregory Hines Show (1997 to 1998) — Ben Stevenson
- Blue's Clues (1999, Episode Blue's Big Treasure Hunt) — Jack
- The Tic Code (1999) — Tyrone Pike
- Will & Grace (TV) (1999 to 2000) — Ben Doucette
- Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her (2000) — Robert (segment "Fantasies About Rebecca")
- Who Killed Atlanta's Children? (TV) (2000) — Ron Larson
- Once in the Life (2000) — Ruffhouse
- Bojangles (2001) — Bojangles
- Venice: Lost and Found (2002) — Himself
- The Red Sneakers (TV) (2002) — Zeke
- Law & Order: (TV) "Suicide Box" (2003) — Carl Helpert
- Lost at Home: (TV) (2003) — Jordan King
- The Root (2003)
- Little Bill (TV) (1999 to 2004, until his death) — Bill 'Big Bill' (final television appearance)
- Keeping Time: The Life, Music & Photography of Milt Hinton (2004) — Himself
- Love That Girl, Sally (2004) — Fred (final film role; dedicated production)
- "Gregory Hines, obituary". The Telegraph. August 12, 2003. Archived from the original on June 3, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
- Wadler, Joyce (February 24, 1985). "Hines on Tap". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286.
- Editors, Biography com. "Gregory Hines". Biography. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
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- Abrams, Dennis; De Angelis, Gina (April 1, 2008). Gregory Hines. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-0791097182. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- Valis Hill, Constance. "Biography of Gregory Hines". New York Public Library. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
- Rothstein, Mervyn (September 1, 1992). "The Man in the Dancing Shoes". Cigar Aficionado. Archived from the original on October 8, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
- "Tap: With Gregory Hines". New York Public Library. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
- "Gregory Hines Interview". The Sammy Davis, Jr. Association. 1992. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. Retrieved June 9, 2008.
- Luther Vandross Chart History
- Gregory Hines Chart History
- Monaghan, Terry (August 12, 2003). "Gregory Hines". The Guardian. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- Brooks, Mel (June 7, 1981). "The World According to Mel Brooks". The New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- White, Armond (October 23, 2019). "Coppola's Cotton Club Encore Remakes American Entertainment". National Review.
- Gregory Hines: a dancer hits the screen and gets the girls: [FINAL Edition] Philip Wuntch Dallas Morning News. The Citizen; Ottawa, Ont. [Ottawa, Ont]30 June 1986: D10.
- Dunning, Jennifer (August 11, 2003). "Gregory Hines, Versatile Dancer and Actor, Dies at 57". The New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- "Pallbearers carry the coffin of Gregory Hines' at the memorial..." Getty Images. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
- "Gregory Hines buried in Oakville City, Ontario". CBC News. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
- "Gregory Hines As Honoree on New Forever Stamp". United States Postal Service. January 28, 2019.
- "The Amazing Falsworth". IMDb. November 5, 1985.
- Gregory Hines at the Internet Broadway Database
- Gregory Hines at IMDb
- Gregory Hines at Find a Grave
- Blog of Death obituary
- Tapping into history Deborah Jowitt, Village Voice, August 2003.
- TonyAwards.com Interview with Gregory Hines
- Archival footage of Gregory Hines, Dianne Walker and Jimmy Slyde in 1996 at Jacob's Pillow