Gregory Hines

Gregory Oliver Hines (February 14, 1946 – August 9, 2003) was an American dancer, actor, singer, and choreographer.

Gregory Hines
Hines in 1993
Gregory Oliver Hines

(1946-02-14)February 14, 1946
DiedAugust 9, 2003(2003-08-09) (aged 57)
Resting placeSaint Volodymyr's Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery in Oakville, Ontario, Canada
OccupationDancer, actor, singer, choreographer
Years active1951–2003
Spouse(s)Patricia Panella (m. 1968; div. 19??)
Pamela Koslow
(m. 1981; div. 2000)
Partner(s)Negrita Jayde (2000–2003 (his death; engaged))

Early life

Hines was born in New York City on February 14, 1946 to Alma Iola (Lawless) and Maurice Robert Hines, a dancer, musician, and actor,[1] and grew up in the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Harlem.[2] Hines began tap dancing when he was two years old, and began dancing semi professionally at age five. After that, he and his older brother Maurice performed together, studying with choreographer Henry LeTang.

Gregory and Maurice also studied with veteran tap dancers, such as Howard Sims and The Nicholas Brothers when they performed at the same venues. The two brothers were known as "The Hines Kids", making nightclub appearances, and later as "The Hines Brothers". When their father joined the act as a drummer,[2] the name changed again in 1963 to "Hines, Hines, and Dad".


Hines performed as the lead singer and musician in a rock band called Severance based in Venice, California during the years 1975 and 1976. Severance was one of the house bands at an original music club called Honky Hoagies Handy Hangout, otherwise known as the 4H Club, which released their debut album on Largo Records (a subsidiary of GNP Crescendo) in 1976.

In 1986, he sang a duet with Luther Vandross called "There's Nothing Better Than Love", which reached the No. 1 position on the Billboard R&B charts.[3] Hines made his movie debut in Mel Brooks's History of the World, Part I. Critics took note of Hines's comedic charm, and he later appeared in movies such as Wolfen, The Cotton Club, White Nights, Running Scared with Billy Crystal, Tap, and Waiting to Exhale.

On television, he starred in his own series in 1997 called The Gregory Hines Show on CBS, as well as in the recurring role of Ben Doucette on Will & Grace. In 1999, he would return to voice Big Bill in Nick Jr.'s television show Little Bill. In 2000, he starred in The Tic Code.

Hines made his Broadway debut with his brother in The Girl in Pink Tights in 1954. He earned Tony Award nominations for Eubie! (1979), Comin' Uptown (1980), and Sophisticated Ladies (1981), and won the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Jelly's Last Jam (1992) and the Theatre World Award for Eubie!. In 1989, he created and hosted a PBS special called "Gregory Hines' Tap Dance in America," which featured various tap dancers such as Savion Glover and Bunny Briggs. He also c -hosted the Tony Awards ceremony in 1995 and 2002.[4][5]

In 1990, Hines visited his idol Sammy Davis Jr., who was dying of throat cancer and was unable to speak. After Davis died, an emotional Hines spoke at Davis's funeral of how Sammy had made a gesture to him, "as if passing a basketball … and I caught it." Hines spoke of the honor that Sammy thought that Hines could carry on from where he left off.[6]

Hines was an avid improviser who did a lot of improvisation of tap steps, tap sounds, and tap rhythms alike. His improvisation was like that of a drummer, doing a solo and coming up with all sorts of rhythms. He also improvised the phrasing of a number of tap steps that he would come up with, mainly based on sound produced. A laid back dancer, he usually wore nice pants and a loose fitting shirt.

Although he inherited the roots and tradition of the black rhythmic tap, he also influenced the new black rhythmic tap, as a proponent. "'He purposely obliterated the tempos,' wrote tap historian Sally Sommer, 'throwing down a cascade of taps like pebbles tossed across the floor. In that moment, he aligned tap with the latest free form experiments in jazz and new music and postmodern dance.'"[7]

Throughout his career, Hines wanted and continued to be an advocate for tap in America. In 1988, he successfully petitioned the creation of National Tap Dance Day, which is now celebrated in 40 cities in the United States, as well as eight other nations. He was on the board of directors of Manhattan Tap, a member of the Jazz Tap Ensemble, and a member of the American Tap Dance Foundation, which was formerly called the American Tap Dance Orchestra.

Through his teaching, he influenced tap dancers such as Savion Glover, Dianne Walker, Ted Levy, and Jane Goldberg.[7] In an interview with The New York Times in 1988, Hines said that everything he did was influenced by his dancing: "my singing, my acting, my lovemaking, my being a parent."[7]


Hines died of liver cancer on August 9, 2003 en route to the hospital from his home in Los Angeles. He had been diagnosed with the disease more than a year earlier, but informed only his closest friends. At the time of his death, production of the television show Little Bill was ending, and he was engaged to Negrita Jayde.[8] Hines is buried at Saint Volodymyr's Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery in Oakville, Ontario.[9]

Jayde died of cancer on August 28, 2009 at the age of 51, weeks after holding the sixth annual memorial/celebration to Hines.[10] On January 28, 2019, the US Postal Service honored Hines with a postage stamp, issued with a ceremony at The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, in Buffalo, New York. The stamp is part of its Black Heritage Series.[11]

Personal life

Hines' marriages to Patricia Panella and Pamela Koslow ended in divorce. He had two children, a son named Zach and a daughter named Daria, as well as a stepdaughter named Jessica Koslow, and a grandson.

Awards and nominations




See also


  1. "Gregory Hines Biography (1946-)".
  2. "Gregory Hines, obituary". The Telegraph. August 12, 2003. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  3. Luther Vandross Chart History
  4. Rothstein, Mervyn (September 1, 1992). "The Man in the Dancing Shoes". Cigar Aficionado. Archived from the original on October 8, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  5. "Tap: With Gregory Hines". New York Public Library. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  6. Jr. news (1992). "Gregory Hines Interview". sammydavis-jr. The Sammy Davis, Jr. Association. Archived from the original on May 13, 2008. Retrieved June 9, 2008.
  7. Hill, Constance Valis. "Biography of Gregory Hines". The New York Public Library. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  8. Dunning, Jennifer (August 11, 2003). "Gregory Hines, Versatile Dancer and actor, Dies at the age of 57". The New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2008.
  9. "Gregory Hines buried in Oakville City, Ontario". CBC. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  10. "Negrita Maria Jayde Obituary".
  11. Postal Service Celebrates Dancer/Actor "Gregory Hines As Honoree on New Forever Stamp" Check |url= value (help). US Postal Service news release. January 28, 2019.
  12. "The Amazing Falsworth". November 5, 1985 via
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