Actor Hinton Battle, celebrated for his role as Scarecrow in Broadway’s The Wiz and a recipient of three Tony Awards, passed away on 30 January 2024 at the age of 67. His passing was announced by his close friend, actor and choreographer, Debbie Allen, though no cause of death was provided.
Allen paid tribute to Battle on Instagram, saying, “Today I honor Hinton Battle, my dear friend who has now joined God’s Ensemble to dance and sing. He was a warrior in life, inspiring audiences and the youth worldwide with his creativity. Let’s keep his memory alive in our hearts and celebrate his legacy by continuing to speak his name.”
Battle’s illustrious Broadway career began with The Wiz in 1975, where he was the first to portray the Scarecrow (a role then taken on by Michael Jackson in the 1978 film adaptation). His iconic performance led to roles in renowned musicals like Dancin’, Sophisticated Ladies, Dreamgirls, The Tap Dance Kid, Miss Saigon, and the revival of Chicago. He earned Tony Awards for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performances in Sophisticated Ladies(1981), The Tap Dance Kid(1983), and Miss Saigon (1991).
Born on 29 November 1956 in Germany, Battle was trained at the Jones Haywood School of Ballet in Washington, D.C., and the School of American Ballet in New York City. His career spanned beyond Broadway to television, where he made notable appearances in Quantum Leap, Touched By An Angel, Early Edition, and Smash.
Battle’s most memorable TV role was as the demon Sweet in the 2001 Buffy The Vampire Slayer musical episode Once More, With Feeling, for which he also served as choreographer. His choreography work extended to the 65th and 66th Annual Academy Awards (collaborating with Debbie Allen), The Trouble With Normal, and Sister Sister.