Gregory Oliver Hines entered the world on February 14, 1946. Unfortunately, he left it too soon, dying of liver cancer at the age of 58 on August 9, 2003. In between was a life of accolades, artistic expression and rewards for his outstanding talent. An accomplished tap dancer and choreographer, Gregory Hines is credited with having kept the art of big screen tap dancing alive. He also made many films and was a capable actor.
He entered show business at the tender age of six with his brother, Maurice, appearing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem as “The Hines Kids.” Later, he was part of a tap-dancing act that featured both his brother, Maurice, and dad. “Hines, Hines and Dad” was the beginning of the development of a “show biz savvy” that would follow him for all of his formidable life.
His film debut was in 1981 when he played a Roman slave in Mel Brook’s hilarious “History of The World: Part 1.” His screen dancing debut was as a thinly disguised Nicholas Brother in “The Cotton Club” in 1984. His own brother appeared in this film and in true art imitating life fashion, played his brother in the film! In an ironic twist, the movie was set in the same Harlem nightclub where Hines’s own grandmother had been an entertainer performing for a white audience back in the 1920s and 30s. In 1985 he danced opposite ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov in the film, “White Nights.”
He was married twice and left two children. His accomplishments are too numerous to mention here in full detail. He won many awards for his talents, including a Tony for the Broadway musical, “Jelly’s Last Jam,” in 1992. The world not only lost a fine performer but also a fine human being on the day this sleepy-eyed, silky-smooth entertainer took his last breath.
What is YOUR favorite Gregory Hines performance? Please share.