You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Tommy Hollis

TV, film and stage thesp Tommy Hollis, who originated the role of Booker T. Washington in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning “Ragtime” and portrayed the father of the title character in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” died Sept. 9 of a heart attack in New York City. He was 47.

Recipient of the 1991 Theater World Award for outstanding Broadway debut, as Reverend Avery in August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson,” Hollis performed in the original Broadway casts of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “Ragtime” and “Seven Guitars.”

He also originated the title role of Jesse in “I Just Stopped by to See the Man” at London’s Royal Court Theater and performed in George C. Wolfe’s “Colored Museum” in New York, London and Los Angeles.

In addition to reprising his roles in “The Piano Lesson” and “The Colored Museum,” Hollis’ television work included Alex Haley’s miniseries “Queen,” telepics “Separate but Equal” and “The Vernon Johns Story.” He also had appearances on such series as “Law & Order” and “New York Undercover,” plus a recurring role on “I’ll Fly Away.”

His film credits included Mike Nichols’ “Primary Colors,” Spike Lee’s “Malcom X,” “The Professional” and “Ghostbusters.”

Invited by artistic director Lloyd Richards, Hollis helped develop new works by playwrights at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference for several seasons. Recipient of last year’s Fox Foundation Fellowship, Hollis also was a concert performer and traditional gospel singer who most recently sang in a tribute to the late producer, Lyn Austin.

He is survived by his mother, four sisters, two brothers, a stepmother, six nieces and 15 nephews.

More Scene

  • 2017 Ripple of Hope Awards

    Why Alfre Woodard Thinks 'Everybody Gets Left Out' of Film Awards Race

    TV, film and stage thesp Tommy Hollis, who originated the role of Booker T. Washington in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning “Ragtime” and portrayed the father of the title character in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” died Sept. 9 of a heart attack in New York City. He was 47. Recipient of the 1991 Theater World Award […]

  • 'Father Figures' film premiere

    'Father Figures' Premiere Raises Funds for Southern California Wildfire Victims

    TV, film and stage thesp Tommy Hollis, who originated the role of Booker T. Washington in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning “Ragtime” and portrayed the father of the title character in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” died Sept. 9 of a heart attack in New York City. He was 47. Recipient of the 1991 Theater World Award […]

  • 'Grown-ish' TV show premiere

    A Meme Inspired 'Black-ish' Spinoff 'Grown-ish,' Creator Kenya Barris Says

    TV, film and stage thesp Tommy Hollis, who originated the role of Booker T. Washington in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning “Ragtime” and portrayed the father of the title character in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” died Sept. 9 of a heart attack in New York City. He was 47. Recipient of the 1991 Theater World Award […]

  • 'Bright' film premiere

    Will Smith Discusses 'Bright's' Racial, Social, Allegorical Undertones

    TV, film and stage thesp Tommy Hollis, who originated the role of Booker T. Washington in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning “Ragtime” and portrayed the father of the title character in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” died Sept. 9 of a heart attack in New York City. He was 47. Recipient of the 1991 Theater World Award […]

  • Holiday Soul Party

    Lena Waithe on Inclusive Storytelling: 'There's Still a Long Way to Go'

    TV, film and stage thesp Tommy Hollis, who originated the role of Booker T. Washington in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning “Ragtime” and portrayed the father of the title character in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” died Sept. 9 of a heart attack in New York City. He was 47. Recipient of the 1991 Theater World Award […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content