Charles “Honi” Coles, the elegant tap dancer who “made butterflies clumsy,” died Thursday at age 81.
Coles, who danced with the bands of Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, died of cancer at his New York City home, according to his wife, Marian.
After decades of playing vaudeville and club dates, Coles finally received broad recognition at age 73. His show-stopping number in the Broadway show “My One and Only” won him the 1983 Tony Award as best supporting actor in a musical.
The Philadelphia-born Coles never studied dance. He said he picked up the steps hanging out with friends on street corners and pool halls and watching the work of such masters as Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and John W. Bubbles.
Coles made his first Broadway appearance in 1949 with a partner, Cholly Atkins, when Coles & Atkins performed in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”
He also played in the Broadway version of “Hello Dolly” and the national company of “Bubbling Brown Sugar.” Movie audiences saw him in supporting roles in “Cotton Club” and “Dirty Dancing” and he appeared on many television variety shows and made-for-TV movies.
Coles, who was awarded the National Medal of the Arts last year by President Bush, was considered a giant by other celebrities.
During the 1960s and early ’70s, with tap out of favor, Coles worked as production manager of the Apollo Theater of Harlem.
In addition to his wife, Coles’ survivors include a daughter and son.
David Guerra died Nov. 8 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of complications from AIDS. He was 32.
Guerra began his career as a theater manager for AMC before moving into advertising accounting at American Cinema Releasing.
He also worked for Exhibitor Relations, Avco/Embassy Pictures, De Laurentiis Entertainment and Bud Yorkin Releasing. Most recently, he was a department manager at Bullock’s downtown.
Guerra is survived by his parents Rudy and Alice Guerra, brothers Rudy Jr. and John, and sisters Linda Davidson-Guerra and Suzan Oronzo, who works at E! Entertainment.
A memorial service is scheduled tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Atlas Bar & Grill in Los Angeles.
In lieu of flowers, family suggests contributions in his memory to the L.A. Shanti Foundation. Donations can be made in care of the Guerra Family, 515 Gaylord Dr., Burbank 91505.