Howard Sims

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Howard Sims
Born (1917-01-24)January 24, 1917
Fort Smith, Arkansas United States
Died May 20, 2003(2003-05-20) (aged 86)
The Bronx, New York, United States
Occupation tap dancer
Spouse(s) Solange A. Simms 1959–2003 (his death) 2 children

Howard Sims (January 24, 1917 – May 20, 2003), also known as "Sandman", was a tap dancer in vaudeville. He acquired his name from the sand he sprinkled on the floor to amplify the sound of his steps when he danced. In his senior years, Sims appeared at the famous Apollo Theater, comedically ushering failed acts offstage with a shepherd's crook, or "hook". He appeared in a 1990 episode of The Cosby Show as Rudy's tap dancing teacher, facing off against Cliff (Bill Cosby) in a good natured tap challenge. Sandman was featured in the 1989 dance film Tap, along with Sammy Davis Jr, Gregory Hines and Savion Glover.

Sims was skilled in a style of dancing that he performed in a sand box. His mini-stage was a 3 sq ft-wide (0.28 m2) square made of 2×4s with a galvanized tin floor, which (at least in later years) he had rigged to a microphone. Sims used to travel the United States challenging all tap dancers he came across to dance-offs.

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