Tony Award winner Hinton Battle, original Scarecrow in ‘The Wiz,’ dies at 67

Hinton Battle during a press preview of his show "Hinton Battle: Something New."
Hinton Battle during a press preview of his show “Hinton Battle: Something New,” at 54 Below in New York City in May 2014.
(Walter McBride / WireImage)

Hinton Battle, who won Tony Awards (featured actor in a musical) for his performances in “Miss Saigon,” “Sophisticated Ladies” and “The Tap Dance Kid,” has died at 67. No cause of death was mentioned.

A choreographer, director, actor and writer, Battle made his Broadway debut as the original Scarecrow at the age of 15 in “The Wiz.” He studied at the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet in Washington, DC, and the School of American Ballet in New York City and went on to star in numerous lauded musicals, including “Dancin’,” “Dreamgirls,” “Chicago,” “Ragtime” and the aforementioned Tony-winning productions.

Battle also had many roles onscreen in television and films, appearing in “These Old Broads,” “Touched By An Angel,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Smash” and alongside Beyonce and Eddie Murphy in the film adaptation of “Dreamgirls.”

In 2017, Battle, alongside Yoshimoto Kogyo, founded the Hinton Battle Dance Academy (HBDA) in Tokyo to prepare students for a career in the entertainment industry.


He has choreographed the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes, and has himself been the recipient of multiple awards including an NAACP Image Award, Fred Astaire Award, Ira Aldridge Award, Planet Connection Award and the Amas 2014 Rosie Award for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of extraordinary accomplishment in the theatrical arts.

Debbie Allen, who alerted many to his passing on social media, wrote, “Today I honor Hinton Battle, my dear friend who left us to dance and sing in God’s Ensemble last night. He fought this battle to live and be creative impacting audiences and young people across the globe. Let us always hold him high in our hearts and in our mind’s eye and forever speak his name.”