The actor who originated the role of Booker T. Washington in Terence McNally's Tony-award winning Ragtime and appeared as Malcolm X's father in Spike Lee's film of the same name, seasoned stage actor Tommy Hollis also made frequent appearances in film and television, where he was a familiar face to viewers of I'll Fly Away. A noted concert performer and traditional gospel singer as well as a talented actor, Hollis' most popular stage roles included I Just Stopped By to See the Man at London's Royal Court Theatre, George C. Wolfe's Colored Museum, and August Wilson's The Piano Lesson, for which he won the Theater World Award for outstanding Broadway debut in 1991. Frequently reprising his stage roles for small screen adaptations, Hollis also made appearances on television's Law and Order and New York Undercover. On September 9, 2001, Tommy Hollis died of a heart attack in New York City. He was 47.