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Sims was a recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. With the $5,000 he earned from the fellowship, he taught dance classes to children in a parking lot in Harlem. He was known to have his tap shoes in his back pocket at all times. He couldn’t afford to live off his Apollo earnings, so he worked as a mechanic and carpenter on the side, taught dance and owned a cafe.

During his 17 year-run with the Apollo, Sims also served as the stage manager. For nearly another 15 years, he would sporadically appear after the worst acts, shoo’ing the tough-luck performers off the stage followed by his own vaudeville-style performance.

Howard Sims passed away on May 20, 2003. He was 86 years old.

Watch video of Howard “Sandman” Sims above.

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