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Broadway legend Hinton Battle, who originally played Scarecrow in 'The Wiz', has died

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Let's take a moment to remember a Broadway legend. Actor and choreographer Hinton Battle died this week at the age of 67.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Battle is perhaps best known for playing the original Scarecrow in the Broadway production of "The Wiz."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WAS BORN ON THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY")

HINTON BATTLE: (As Scarecrow, singing) Yeah, they took the jacket and the pants, found a brown paper bag, and they filled it with straw. And to top off the drag, they gave me penciled-in eyes and a penciled-in nose. And they stuck me up there and said, strike me a pose.

SHAPIRO: "The Wiz" was just the beginning for Battle. He went on to win three Tony Awards for his roles in "Sophisticated Ladies," "The Tap Dance Kid" and "Miss Saigon."

KELLY: And Battle dazzled on screen, too, in movies like the 2006 "Dreamgirls."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STEPPIN' TO THE BAD SIDE")

HINTON BATTLE, JAMIE FOXX, EDDIE MURPHY AND KEITH ROBINSON: (As Wayne, Curtis Taylor Jr., Jimmy Early and C.C. White, singing) Steppin' to the bad side. Ooh, ooh, ooh. Going to take a mean ride. Ooh, ooh, ooh.

KEITH ROBINSON: (As C.C. White, singing) The smile I had is gone away.

BATTLE: (As Wayne, singing) Those that steal are going to pay.

BATTLE, FOXX, MURPHY AND ROBINSON: (As Wayne, Curtis Taylor Jr., Jimmy Early and C.C. White, singing) Steppin' to the bad side today.

SHAPIRO: He had a long list of television credits, including "Quantum Leap" and "Touched By An Angel." He even played a singing demon in a musical episode of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," compelling his victims to burst into song and dance.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER")

BATTLE: (As Sweet, singing) I come from the imagination, and I'm here strictly by your invocation. So what do you say? Why don't we dance a while?

KELLY: In a post on X, Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy alongside Hinton Battle on Broadway, wrote, my dear Scarecrow, you've joined the heavenly cast. I will miss you forever.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOME")

STEPHANIE MILLS: (As Dorothy, singing) Maybe there's a chance for me to go back now that I have some direction. It sure would be nice to be back home where there's love and affection. And just maybe I can convince time to slow up, giving... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Megan Lim
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Tinbete Ermyas
[Copyright 2024 NPR]