Friday, November 10, 2006

Gregory Hines

Gregory Hines, a Tony-winning tap dancer, died on a Saturday in Los Angeles.

He was best known for his roles in films such as The Cotton Club (1984), based around the seminal 1920s New York jazz club, in which he played Sandman Williams.

He was also cast alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov in the thriller White Nights (1985), and alongside Billy Crystal in the comic cop thriller Running Scared (1986).

When I realised I was alive and these were my parents, and I could walk and talk, I could dance
Gregory Hines

Hines was an accomplished dancer whose roles in 1980s films often featured his dancing. He was also a respected choreographer.

In 1992 he won a Tony, US theatre's equivalents of the Oscars, for his part in the musical Jelly's Last Jam.

Hines began his entertainment career in the tap dancing act Hines, Hines and Dad, alongside his brother Maurice and his father.

Star at six

Born in New York in 1946, his mother had urged him to become a tap dancer as a way of getting out of poverty. He started tap as a toddler, learning the dance moves his older brother had been taught in dance class.

At the age of six, he was performing at the Apollo Theatre for two weeks with Maurice.

"I don't remember not dancing," Hines said in a 2001 interview. "When I realised I was alive and these were my parents, and I could walk and talk, I could dance."

The two brothers danced in the musical revue Eubie! in 1978. The brothers later performed together in Broadway's Sophisticated Ladies, and then in The Cotton Club. Dozens of film and TV roles followed.

He had his own TV show, The Gregory Hines Show, in 1997, and was also a regular guest star on comedy Will and Grace.


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