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Gregory Oliver Hines Stamp
Gregory Oliver Hines was an esteemed American dancer renowned for reviving an otherwise dismal art form: modern dancing. To honor him, in 2016 the US Postal Service issued Scott 5060 stamp.
Movie roles that marked his filmography included Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part I as Richard Pryor’s replacement, The Cotton Club with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Renaissance Man, and Waiting to Exhale.
Early Life and Education
Gregory Hines began performing at an early age in New York City. Alongside his older brother Maurice, they formed the family band Hines, Hines and Dad. Gregory went on to study tap dancing under Henry Le Tang and perform regularly at Apollo Theater.
Hines began his Broadway career in the 1970s with roles in Comin’ Uptown and Sophisticated Ladies musicals, as well as Duke Ellington’s Black Broadway revue.
Hines found success as an actor during the 1980s with roles such as Roman slave in Mel Brooks’ History of the World: Part I and medical examiner in Wolfen. Additionally, his comedic timing could be found in films like Renaissance Man (1994). Unfortunately, Hines would later succumb to liver cancer.
Gregory Oliver Hines made his mark as an accomplished tap dancer both in nightclubs and Broadway productions, performing alongside his brother in a dance act and earning critical acclaim for his tap dancing abilities. Under master dancer Henry Le Tang’s tutelage he quickly perfected this artform.
Broadway performances of Eubie Blake, Comin’ Uptown and Sophisticated Ladies earned him several Tony Award nominations. He made his film debut in 1981 in Mel Brooks’ History of the World: Part I; taking over for Richard Pryor who had been hospitalized after being severely burned in a house fire.
Running Scared was another comedy featuring Billy Crystal and Willem Dafoe; Penny Marshall directed Renaissance Man with Denzel Washington and Angela Bassett; Waiting to Exhale was another Penny Marshall project; on television he hosted The Gregory Hines Show before returning as Big Bill Robinson on Will and Grace.
Achievement and Honors
Gregory Oliver Hines was one of three sons of actor/singer Maurice Hines and made his professional debut as part of a family act, performing night club shows as part of an act called Severance. Over time he became multi-talented young man playing lead vocalist and various instruments with this jazz rock band.
His film appearances ranged from Peter Hyams’ comedy Running Scared; Sigourney Weaver and Chevy Chase’s dark drama Renaissance Man to Penny Marshall’s military thriller Off Limits as well as Nick Jr’s animated children’s series Little Bill for which he earned him a Daytime Emmy award.
Hines was an advocate of tap dance who successfully petitioned the Library of Congress to establish National Tap Dance Day on August 9, 2003 in New York City. Unfortunately, he succumbed to liver cancer on that same date and passed away shortly thereafter.
Hines married Patricia Panella in 1968 and gave birth to Daria; when the couple split in 1973, Hines moved to Venice, California and formed Severance (jazz-rock band).
In 1979, he choreographed and performed in the Broadway musical Comein’ Uptown as his debut role. A year later he appeared in Wolfen.
He made his movie debut in the 1981 Mel Brooks comedy, The History of the World, Part I as Richard Pryor had to be hospitalized following an unfortunate house fire and needed replacement.
Hines continued his film acting career by appearing in several movies such as Running Scared with Billy Crystal and White Nights; Renaissance Man with Sigourney Weaver, Chevy Chase and Angela Bassett; and Waiting to Exhale featuring Angela Bassett and Denzel Washington. Unfortunately, Hines succumbed to liver cancer in 2003 while traveling on his way to hospital from his home; he is interred at St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery in Oakville, Ontario.
Hines was an award-winning actor, singer and dancer whose career spanned more than three decades. He appeared in more than 100 movies and television shows; Hines played a pivotal role in revitalizing tap dancing when it had fallen out of favor by the late 1970s.
He made his film debut in Mel Brooks’s History of the World Part I as a Roman slave who replaced Richard Pryor; then Wolfen, an allegorical mystery directed by Michael Wadleigh. Additionally, he appeared in numerous musicals like Sophisticated Ladies with Madeline Kahn.
He made numerous movies during the mid to late 1980s, such as Running Scared with Billy Crystal and Chevy Chase/Sigourney Weaver in Deal of the Century; Renaissance Man with Danny DeVito; The Preacher’s Wife featuring Denzel Washington/Whitney Houston as well as costarring in television movies Jelly’s Last Jam and an Emmy-nominated special Gregory Hines: Tap Dance in America.