GREGORY HINES began dancing, with big brother Maurice, at the age of not-quite-three, under the tutelage of tap master Henry LeTang. As soon as Gregory turned five, the brothers went professional as the Hines Kids,making nightclub appearances across the country. They virtually grew up backstage at the Apollo Theater, where they were witness to the performances and advice of tap dance legends like Honi Coles, Sandman Sims, the Nicholas Brothers and Teddy Hale (Gregory's personal source of inspiration). Gregory and Maurice then grew into the Hines Brothers. He must have been eight when he made his Broadway debut as a shoeshine boy in The Girl in Pink Tights (1954), choreographed by Agnes de Mille.. When Gregory was eighteen, he and Maurice were joined by their father, Maurice Sr., on drums, becoming Hines, Hines and Dad. They toured internationally and appeared frequently on “The Tonight Show,” but the younger Hines was restless to get away from the non-stop years on the road, so he left the group in his early twenties and moved to Venice, California. For a time he left dancing behind, exploring alternatives that included his forming a jazzrock band called Severance. Hines made the initial transition from dancer/singer to film actor in Mel Brooks’ hilarious The History of the World, Part I, having been suggested to the director by co-star Madeline Kahn. He followed that in quick succession with Michael Wadleigh's The Wolfen (now a cult hit).
Hines exemplified the term "multi-talented." As a dancer, singer and star of the Broadway stage, he earned three Tony nominations (Sophisticated Ladie s, Eubi e, Comin' Uptow n) a nd th e Tony Awa rd for Best Actor in a Musical (Jelly's Last Jam). As a film actor, he was equally gifted in comedy (Running Scared, A Rage in Harlem) and drama (The Cotton Club, White Nights, Waiting to Exhale). On television, he starred to widespread critical acclaim in his own CBS-TV series (The Gregory Hines Show) and made up part of the gifted ensemble that won an Emmy Award for “Best Comedy Series” (Will and Grace), starring as Ben Doucette. For two year in a row, Hines was the voice of ‘Big Bill’ on Bill Cosby’s animated series for Nickelodeon, Little Bill. Hines completed principal production on Bojangles, for Showtime. A project that he had fought for years to bring to the screen, Hines both produced and starred in the telefilm, as the legendary, groundbreaking tap dancer and entertainer, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, for director Joseph Sargent.
In 1988, Hines starred in a film that combined his penchant for both dance and drama, Tap. With full-scale production numbers filmed on location in New York City and Hollywood, and with an original soundtrack created especially for the look and style of the film, Tap became the first dance musical to merge tap dancing with contemporary rock and funk musical styles. It also featured a host of tap dance legends, including Sandman Sims, Bunny Briggs, Harold Nicholas and Hines' co-star and show business mentor, Sammy Davis,Jr. Hines extensive and varied film resume includes Taylor Hackford's White Nights, in which he co-starred with Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Frances Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club, (both of which blended dance into the dramatic framework of their stories). In 1986, he teamed with Billy Crystal in director Peter Hyam’s hit comedy, Running Scared and the next year with Willem Dafoe, on in Southeast Asia, in the military thriller Off Limits. He starred in William Friedkin's dark comedy, Deal of the Century, with Sigourney Weaver and Chevy Chase; Penny Marshall’s military comedy, Renaissance Man, co-starring Danny DeVito; The Preacher’s Wife with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston, once again with director Penny Marshall; Waiting to Exhale, with Angela Bassett and Whitney Houston for director Forest Whittaker and Good Luck, with co-star Vincent D'Onofrio. He also appeared in the offbeat ensemble comedy, Mad Dog Time, with Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin, Gabriel Byrne and Richard Dreyfuss.
He made his television directorial debut with The Red Sneakers, for Showtime. Hines also appeared in the film, which centers on a 17 year-old high school student— more mathematician than athlete— who becomes a basketball sensation through the gift of a magical pair of sneakers.In 1994, he directed the independent feature film Bleeding Hearts, shot on location in New York. A contemporary romantic drama, it explored the precarious relationship between a thirty-year-old, white, male radical and a black, female high school student.
Gregory Hines work in television is equally diverse. It includes an Emmy-nominated performance on “Motown Return to the Apollo,” an on-camera host stint for Showtime's "Dance of the Decade" series and a guest starring role in the first season of Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories." His PBS special, Gregory Hines: TapDance in America," was also nominated for an Emmy award in 1989. On the USA Network, he starred with Annette O'Toole in the critically acclaimed original film, White Lies, based on the novel Louisiana Black by Samuel Charters. He has also starred on TNT with Christopher Lloyd in Lewis Teague’s T-Bone and Weazel; with Sinbad, James Coburn and Burt Reynolds in the comedy western, The Cherokee Kid; with Judd Hirsch and F. Murray Abraham in Showtime’s urban drama, The Color of Justice; on CBS-TV with Jean Smart in the thriller, A Stranger in Town; on the USA Network in the psychological thriller, Dead Air and in Subway Stories, the anthology-style film series for HBO directed by Ted Demme.
His recording credits include the Epic Release “Gregory Hines,” an LP produced by friend and colleague Luther Vandross. Top singles off that album were "That Girl Wants to Dance With Me" and "There's Nothing Better Than Love," the duet with Luther Vandross that went to number one on the Black Singles Chart. Epic also released the soundtrack for Tap. Hines' own stage show has taken him from New York's Bottom Line to spots as far-flung as Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Japan and Monte Carlo. Gregory HIne
passed away at age 57 in Los Angeles leaving his soul mate Negrita Jayde, a daughter Daria, a step-daughter Jessica, a son Zachary, and a grandson Lucian. The tap dance community has never been the same without "The Man" - Gregory HInes.