Maurice Hines, Tap Dancing Broadway, TV and Film Star, Dies at 80

The dancer and choreographer got his start performing alongside his brother, Gregory

Maurice Hines (Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images for Film at Lincoln Center)

Maurice Hines, whose tap dancing prowess graced countless Broadway, TV and film productions as a dancer, choreographer and actor, died Friday, several of his longtime friends announced.

Debbie Allen, who starred alongside Hines in the all-Black cast of the 2001 tour of “Guys and Dolls,” confirmed Hines’ death in a tribute post on social media on Friday, saying “I will always treasure our journey together. My tears are for my inability to speak with you or to hold you. I will always speak your name.”

Best known for his performance in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Cotton Club,” Hines’ Broadway credits include “Eubie!,” “Sophisticated Ladies” and “Bring Back Birdie,” as well as “Uptown…It’s Hot!” and “Hot Feet” which were both created, choreographed and directed by Hines. In 1986, he earned a Tony award nomination for best actor in a musical in “Uptown…It’s Hot!”

Hines first appeared on Broadway at 5-years-old, when he and his brother Gregory (who died in 2003), debuted their tap dancing act — akin to that of the famed Nicholas Brothers — in the 1954 production of “The Girl in Pink Tights.”

First debuting the act as the Hines Kids, the siblings were then known as the Hines Brothers before including their father, Maurice Sr., into the act, which was then called Hines, Hines & Dad. The trio performed in clubs across the country and in Europe, eventually becoming regular performers at New York City’s Apollo Theater and appeared on “The Pearl Bailey Show” and “The Tonight Show.”

While the family decided to pursue solo careers, Maurice and Gregory reunited for a 1979 Broadway production of “Eubie!” and played brothers Clayton Williams and Sandman Williams in 1984 film “The Cotton Club.” In the movie, the Williams brothers reconcile after a falling out and perform tap number “Crazy Rhythm!,” which Hines revealed was completed in two takes in a 2008 interview.

The brothers’ roles in “The Cotton Club” mirrored their real-life fractured relationship following a decade-long dispute, which the siblings eventually mended. Maurice paid tribute to Gregory in 2016 show “Maurice Hines Is Tappin’ Through Life,” stating that he didn’t want his brother to be forgotten after he passed away years earlier in 2003 after a battle with cancer.

As a choreographer, Hines helmed “Harlem Suite,” which he also starred in, Louis Armstrong musical “Satchmo” as well as “Havana Night in Cuba.”

Hines is also the subject of documentary “Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back,” which was executive produced by Allen.


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