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Home > Popped Clogs

Popped Clog: Gregory Hines

Gregory Hines, star-spangled danceman of a thousand glittery twirls, has carked it.

14 August 2003

Lots of tears and ink have been spilled over the death of dance star Gregory Hines...

When Gregory Hines died August 9 in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, the shock reverberated through a number of worlds. He had shone in so many ways: a stellar tap dancer, choreographer, actor, teacher, mentor, loved one...


Gregory Hines was the last of the Song and Dance Men.

...etc. etc.

But he wasn't the last, and it's not such a tragedy. His brother, Maurice Hines Jr, has been living in the shadow of Gregory for decades now. Time for him to step up and shine.

Maurice was Greg's first teacher and first dance partner:

Gregory Oliver Hines was born in New York in 1946, and learnt his first dance steps from his elder brother Maurice, who passed on tips from his lessons... it quickly became apparent that Gregory and Maurice were special. Guided by their musician father, Maurice Hines Sr, tutored by the leading tap instructor Henry LeTang and billed as the Hines Kids, they became the dance world’s equivalent of the Jackson Five. In 1954 they made their Broadway debut in the musical The Girl in Pink Tights. Their father later joined the act on drums and they became Hines, Hines and Dad.

But soon those days of equal billing were to evaporate. The perhaps 'pushier' Gregory left Maruice in his dust. Still, Maurice hung on to Gregory's shoe-straps: he featured alongside Greg in 'The Cotton Club' (as Clay Williams), and forged a career as a Broadway star in his own right (nominated in 1986 for a Tony Award: best actor in a musical). More recently, he was the star of 'Guys and Dolls' on Broadway (and on tour):

'Guys and Dolls' rolls a lucky seven every time. Maurice Hines as the root-a-toot-zootie Nathan Detroit, shines in an inspiral performance, which is a non-stop joy to behold. The rest of the cast is as jaunty as a snap-brim fedora, crisp and sharp!

- Jayne Blanchard, The Washington Times

And yet, while Gregory could cherry-pick his parts, there was a definite sense that Maurice was picking up the crumbs. Can't get Gregory? Well, Maurice will do...

But those days are gone. Maurice has a clear shot at the stars, without the fame-hungry Gregory jittering around in front of him. Deep down, he must be breathing a huge sigh of relief. Probably made a quiet fist of triumph as he read the obituaries. Took his best tap shoes out of the closet, and sat polishing them for hours by the telephone, waiting for that first call to come...

bring it on.jpg

Either that or he's heartbroken that his kid brother has died before his time. Probably one of the two.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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