Geoffrey Holder

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Geoffrey Holder
Holder at the Big Apple Con on November 15, 2008.
Geoffrey Lamont Holder

(1930-08-01)August 1, 1930
DiedOctober 5, 2014(2014-10-05) (aged 84)
Alma mater Queen's Royal College
OccupationActor, voice actor, singer, dancer, composer, choreographer, director
Years active1957–2014
Height6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Family Boscoe Holder (brother)
Christian Holder (nephew)
Awards Outstanding Costume Design
1975 The Wiz
Best Direction of a Musical
1975 The Wiz
Best Costume Design
1975 The Wiz

Geoffrey Lamont Holder (August 1, 1930 – October 5, 2014) was a Trinidadian-American actor, dancer, musician and artist. [1] [2] He was a principal dancer for the Metropolitan Ballet before his film career began in 1957 with an appearance in Carib Gold . In 1973, he played the villainous Baron Samedi in the Bond film Live and Let Die . He also carried out advertising work as the pitchman for 7 Up. [3]


Early life

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, [4] Holder was one of four children of Bajan and Trinidadian descent. [5] He was educated at Tranquility School and Queen's Royal College in Port of Spain. He made his performance debut at the age of seven in his brother Boscoe Holder's dance company.


After seeing him perform in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands the choreographer Agnes de Mille invited Holder to work with her in New York. [6] Upon arriving he joined Katherine Dunham's dance school where he taught folkloric forms for two years. [7]

From 1955 to 1956, he performed with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet as a principal dancer. [8] He left the ballet to make his Broadway debut in the Harold Arlen and Truman Capote musical House of Flowers. [9] While working on House of Flowers, Holder met Alvin Ailey, with whom he later worked extensively, and Carmen de Lavallade, his future wife. After the show closed he starred in an all-black production of Waiting for Godot in 1957. [9]

Holder began his movie career in the 1962 British film All Night Long , a modern remake of Shakespeare's Othello . He followed that with Doctor Dolittle (1967) as Willie Shakespeare, leader of the natives of Sea-Star Island. In 1972, he was cast as the Sorcerer in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* . The following year he was a henchman – Baron Samedi – in the Bond-movie Live and Let Die . [4] He contributed to the film's choreography.

In addition to his movie appearances, Holder was a spokesman in advertising campaigns for the soft drink 7 Up in the 1970s and 1980s, declaring it the "uncola", and, in the 1980s, calling it "crisp and clean, and no caffeine; never had it, never will". [10] [11]

In 1975, Holder won two Tony Awards for direction and costume design of The Wiz , the all-black musical version of The Wizard of Oz . Holder was the first black man to be nominated in either category. He won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design . The show ran for 1672 performances. [12]

As a choreographer, Holder created dance pieces for many companies, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, for which he provided choreography, music, and costumes for Prodigal Prince (1967), [13] and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, for which he provided choreography, music, and costumes for Dougla (1974), and designed costumes for Firebird (1982). In 1978, Holder directed and choreographed the Broadway musical Timbuktu! [14] [15] [16] Holder's 1957 piece "Bele" is also part of the Dance Theater of Harlem repertory.

In the 1982 film Annie , Holder played the role of Punjab. He was in the 1992 film Boomerang with Eddie Murphy. He was also the voice of Ray in Bear in the Big Blue House and provided narration for Tim Burton's version of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory . He reprised his role as the 7 Up Spokesman in the 2011 season finale of The Celebrity Apprentice , where he appeared as himself in a commercial for "7 Up Retro" for Marlee Matlin's team.

In 1993 Holder did a series of commercials for the Armory Auto Group auto dealership in Albany, New York.

Holder was a prolific painter (patrons of his art included Lena Horne and William F. Buckley, Jr.), [17] ardent art collector, book author, and music composer. As a painter, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship in fine arts in 1956. [18] A book of his photography, Adam, was published by Viking Press in 1986. [19]

Personal life

Holder with his wife, Carmen de Lavallade. Photo by Carl Van Vechten, 1955 Geoffreyandcarmenholder.jpg
Holder with his wife, Carmen de Lavallade. Photo by Carl Van Vechten, 1955

Holder married Carmen de Lavallade in 1955. They spent their lives in New York City and had one son, Léo. They were the subject of a 2004 film, Carmen & Geoffrey. His elder brother Boscoe Holder was a dancer, choreographer, and artist. Boscoe's son Christian Holder has also won acclaim as a dancer, choreographer, and entertainer.


Holder died in Manhattan of complications from pneumonia on October 5, 2014, aged 84.





1957 Carib Gold Voo Doo DancerFilm debut
1959Porgy & BessDancerUncredited
1962All Night LongHimselfUncredited
1967 Doctor Dolittle Willie Shakespeare
1968 Krakatoa, East of Java Sailor
1972 Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask The Sorcerer
1973 Live and Let Die Baron SamediAlso choreography
1975 The Noah FridayVoice
1976 Swashbuckler CudjoAlso choreography
1978Doctor J. Kanye
1982 Annie Punjab
1987Where Confucius Meets the New WaveNarrator
1992 Boomerang Nelson
1998 Hasards ou coïncidences Gerry
1999GoosedDr. Bowman
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory NarratorVoice
2006Joséphine Baker. Black Diva in a White Man's World [2]
2008The MagisticalNarrator
1958 Aladdin The Genie
1967 Androcles and the Lion
1968A Gun for JaiMayko
1983 Alice in Wonderland The Cheshire Cat
1985 John Grin's Christmas Ghost of Christmas Future
1988 The Cosby Show ChoreographyChoreographed the Season 5 opening credits
1990The 62nd Annual Academy Awards Performing
1998-1999 Bear in the Big Blue House Ray the SunVoice
2002–2003 Cyberchase Master PiVoice, Episode 118, "Problem Solving in Shangri-La"
Voice, Episode 209, "Double Trouble"
2011 Celebrity Apprentice Himself
Video Games
1994 Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller Jean St. MouchoirOne of only two live actors in the game (as opposed to voice only)
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory NarratorVoice

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  2. 1 2 Lucy E. Cross. "Geoffrey Holder". MasterworksBroadway. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
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  4. 1 2 "Geoffrey Holder, Bond villain and dancer, dies aged 84", BBC News, October 6, 2014; accessed October 8, 2014.
  5. Jennifer Dunning; William McDonald (October 6, 2014). "Geoffrey Holder, Dancer, Choreographer and Man of Flair, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  6. Stephen Holden (March 12, 2009). "Creatively Connected Through Dance and Life". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  7. "Choreographers". Oxford African American Studies Center. Retrieved November 26, 2011.[ permanent dead link ]
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  10. "That 7 Up Uncola Guy: 'Memba Him?!". TMZ. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  11. Suzy Byrne, "James Bond Villain and 'Annie' Costar Geoffrey Holder Dies at 84", Yahoo! Movies, October 6, 2014; accessed October 8, 2014.
  12. Geoffrey Holder at the Internet Broadway Database
  13. Yolanda Sangweni, "Legendary Dancer and Actor Geoffrey Holder Passes Away", Essence, October 6, 2014.
  14. Kina Poon. "Geoffrey Holder's Royal Vision". Dance Magazine. Archived from the original on December 16, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  15. Anna Kisselgoff (January 13, 1982). "Harlem Dance Theatre Presents Firebird". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  16. "Geoffrey Holder". DanceConsortium. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  17. Evelyn Diaz, "Tony Award-Winning Director, Dancer Geoffrey Holder Dies at 84",, October 6, 2014.
  18. "Geoffrey Holder Dead: Bond Villain Baron Samedi Dies", Huffington Post, October 6, 2014; accessed October 8, 2014.
  19. Geoffrey Holder. "Adam". Retrieved November 26, 2011.