Hinton Battle, Tony-Winning Star of ‘The Wiz,’ Passes at 67

Hinton Battle
Hinton Battle

Hinton Battle, the Tony-winning actor who originated the part of The Scarecrow in Broadway’s “The Wiz,” has died. He was 67.

Battle died on Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after a long illness, a spokeswoman for the actor told USA TODAY. His representative said in an emailed statement that the actor’s family will not reveal the specific cause of death.

Born in West Germany, Battle showed an early talent for the arts. Battle received a scholarship to the School of American Ballet, under the direction of renowned choreographer George Balanchine, according to Playbill.

Battle made his Broadway debut in 1975, at the age of 18, as The Scarecrow in the original production of “The Wiz,” an adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

Battle went on to participate in several Broadway musicals, including “Dreamgirls,” “Sophisticated Ladies,” “The Tap Dance Kid,” and “Miss Saigon,” the latter three of which earned him three Tony Awards for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, according to Playbill.

The official X account for the Tony Awards shared a throwback clip of Battle in tribute to the late actor on Tuesday. “His unparalleled talent and infectious energy will be deeply missed,” the post read. However, everyone whose lives he touched will always carry his legacy in their hearts.

Battle’s brilliant career extended beyond the theatre. He appeared in guest appearances on television shows such as “Touched by An Angel,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Smash.” Battle returned to the “Dreamgirls” milieu in 2006, playing Wayne in a film adaption starring Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson, and Jamie Foxx.

In the dance industry, Hinton choreographed the 65th and 66th Academy Awards, the Outkast musical “Idlewild,” “Bolden,” and “Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story.” He also directed and choreographed the off-Broadway musicals “Respect,” “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” the stage adaptation of “Evil Dead,” and “Sistas: The Musical.”

Battle’s friend, actress and dancer Debbie Allen, paid tribute to the actor in an Instagram post on Tuesday. “Today I honor Hinton Battle, my dear friend who left us to dance and sing in God’s Ensemble last night,” Allen wrote. “He fought this battle to live and be creative, impacting audiences and young people across the globe.

Exit mobile version