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Maurice Hines, Tap Dance Icon, Dies at 80

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Maurice Hines, who appeared alongside his younger brother, Gregory Hines, in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club, has died. He was 80.

The Broadway dancer, choreographer and actor passed away on Friday (Dec. 29) of natural causes at the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, N.J., according to his cousin and representative, Richard Nurse, The Hollywood Reporter reports.

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Hines received a Tony Award nomination in 1986 for best actor in a musical for a musical for Uptown… It’s Hot and was featured again on Broadway in 2006’s Hot Feet. Both productions were conceived, directed and choreographed by Maurice.

Born on Dec. 13, 1943, in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Hines studied tap with Henry LeTang in NYC and was fascinated by the acrobatics of the Nicholas Brothers. He made his professional debut at around 6 years old alongside brother Gregory as the tap-dancing Hines Kids on Broadway in 1954, according to THR.

They later became known as the Hines Brothers and then Hines, Hines & Dad after their father, Maurice Sr., joined in 1963. The trio became regulars at New York’s Apollo Theater, and also performed in clubs across the U.S. and Europe.

After Gregory went solo in the early 1970s, Maurice joined the national tour of Guys and Dolls and reunited with his brother for Eubie! on Broadway in 1979. In 1982, Maurice stepped in for Gregory in the Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies and he also appeared in the national tour of Jelly’s Last Jam.

The siblings later joined forces as the feuding Williams Brothers in Coppola’s 1984 crime drama The Cotton Brothers, which also starred Richard Gere and Diane Lane.

The 2019 documentary Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back highlights a falling out between the Hines brothers, who didn’t speak for 10 years “for reasons that Maurice refuses to discuss to this day. He provides no explanation in the film, but instead takes every opportunity to praise Gregory and say how much he loved him,” according to a THR review of the film.

“Nonetheless, the lingering emotional pain of their rift is deeply evident in such moments as Maurice sadly remembering that they didn’t even speak to each at their mother’s wedding, to her great distress. The film includes footage of Gregory’s Tony Award acceptance speech [in 1992] in which he pointedly thanks everyone in his family except his brother. He even takes pains, when mentioning his father, to add ‘Sr.’ so nobody misunderstands.”

The brothers made up before Gregory died of cancer at age 57 in 2003, according to THR.

Maurice is survived by his nephew, Zach, and niece, Daria.

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