Here are five facts about Gregory Hines, the beloved entertainer who is the subject of this year’s Black Heritage stamp from the Postal Service.
1. Hines had an intense, offbeat style. Often dancing while hunched over, he performed riffs much like a jazz drummer, staggering and breaking up the rhythm, changing tempo in the middle of a dance, or abruptly altering the emotion or mood. He liked to call his style “improvography.”
2. His work was acclaimed. Hines was nominated for Tony Awards in the 1970s for his performances in three Broadway musicals — “Eubie!,” “Comin’ Uptown” and “Sophisticated Ladies” — and he won a Tony Award in 1992 for his starring role in “Jelly’s Last Jam.”
3. Hines paved the way for a new generation of dancers. Among those he influenced: Savion Glover, who won a 1996 Tony Award for choreography for “Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk,” and Chloe and Maud Arnold, who have been called “tap’s leading ladies.” Glover and the Arnolds paid tribute to Hines at this week’s stamp dedication ceremony in New York City.
4. Talent runs in his family. Hines’ brother, Maurice, is an actor, dancer and choreographer who appeared with Gregory in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1984 film “The Cotton Club.” Gregory’s daughter, Daria, is an actress and costume designer.
5. Hines was an actor and singer, too. He danced alongside ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov in the 1985 movie “White Nights,” and he appeared in the 1989 movie “Tap,” which highlighted three generations of tap dancers. He also hosted an Emmy-winning PBS show about tap dancing; recorded “There’s Nothing Better Than Love,” a 1986 R&B duet with Luther Vandross; twice hosted the Tony Awards; and acted in television sitcoms.
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