Involved in show business since toddlerhood, Gregory Hines has grown up to be a highly acclaimed tap dancer, choreographer, dramatic and comic actor, singer, and director. Hines is the brother of actor/dancer Maurice Hines. When Hines was two, his father employed him in a dance act with his older brothers. The child honed his dancing skills with master tap dancer Henry Le Tang. He was five when his father teamed him with his big brother, Jake, to form the Hines Kids. The brothers spent much of their early careers dancing at the Apollo Theater and learned much from such famed fellow performers as the Nicholas Brothers and Sandman Sims. At age eight, he debuted on Broadway in the musical The Girl in Pink Tights (1954). When the boys reached adolescence, they were called the Hines Brothers. In 1963, they became Hines, Hines and Dad, and started a ten-year stint on the nightclub circuit and on television. They also went abroad. In 1973, he left his brother and father's act to form a jazz-rock group called Severance. He eventually came back to New York, where in 1973, he launched a distinguished Broadway career that garnered him a Tony (for playing Jelly Roll Morton in George C. Wolfe's musical tribute Jelly's Last Jam in 1992), three additional Tony nominations, and a Theater World Award.
Hines made his feature-film debut in Mel Brooks' all-star farce The History of the World, Pt. I, replacing an ailing Richard Pryor in the role of Josephus. It was actress Madeline Kahn who suggested Hines for the role. In film, Hines has proven himself a versatile actor and he has starred in everything from musical dramas in which he showed off his dancing ability (The Cotton Club and White Nights, in which he starred opposite ballet superstar Mikhail Baryshnikov), to straight dramas (The Preacher's Wife), comedy (Renaissance Man), sci-fi/horror (Wolfen), and action films (Running Scared). In 1994, Hines made his directorial bow with Bleeding Hearts. He released an album, simply titled Gregory Hines, in 1987. In 1997, he starred in the CBS family comedy The Gregory Hines Show as a single father who has trouble reentering the dating scene. Though that particular series was shortlived, appearances on such popular small screen staples as Will and Grace proved that the years had certainly not dulled Hines comic abilities. In addition, the prepetual entertainer also provided voice work for the Blues Clues adventure Big Blue's Threasure Hunt and the popular children's series Little Bill. Moving into the new millennium Hines appeared in such features as Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her (2000) and the made-for-television biopic Bojangles (2001), in which he portrayed the title role of legendary dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Following a supporting role in the television series Lost at Home, Hines made his final film appearance in the 2003 feature The Root.
On August 9, 2003, Gregory Hines died of cancer in Los Angeles. He was 57, and the lights of Broadway were dimmed in his honor three days after his untimely death.