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Geoffrey Holder

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Geoffrey Holder
Holder at the Big Apple Con 2008
Geoffrey Lamont Holder

(1930-08-01)August 1, 1930
DiedOctober 5, 2014(2014-10-05) (aged 84)
Alma materQueen's Royal College
Occupation(s)Actor, voice actor, singer, dancer, composer, choreographer, director
Years active1957–2014
(m. 1955)
Children1 son
FamilyBoscoe Holder (brother)
Christian Holder (nephew)
Ralph McDaniels (second cousin)[1]

Geoffrey Lamont Holder (August 1, 1930 – October 5, 2014) was a Trinidadian-American actor, dancer, musician, and artist.[2][3] He was a principal dancer for the Metropolitan Opera 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.[4]

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/5
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    16 712
    124 265
    147 740
    548 017
  • Supporting Actor Spotlights - Geoffrey Holder
  • The Life and Tragic Ending of Geoffrey Holder
  • Live and Let Die (8/10) Movie CLIP - Baron Samedi, Voodoo Priest (1973) HD
  • Live and let die Baron Samedi laughing scenes only


Early life

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad,[5] Holder was one of four children of Bajan and Trinidadian descent.[6] 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.[7] Upon arriving he joined Katherine Dunham's dance school where he taught folkloric forms for two years.[8]

From 1955 to 1956, he performed with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet as a principal dancer.[9] He left the ballet to make his Broadway debut in the Harold Arlen and Truman Capote musical House of Flowers.[10] 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.[10]

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 (But Were Afraid to Ask). The following year he was a henchman—Baron Samedi—in the Bond movie Live and Let Die.[5] 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".[11][12]

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.[13]

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),[14] 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![15][16][17] Holder's 1957 piece "Bele" is also part of the Dance Theater of Harlem repertory.

Holder portrayed Jupiter, the hulking manservant of an ill-fated treasure-hunter (Roberts Blossom), in a 1980 made-for-television adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's The Gold Bug which also starred Anthony Michael Hall. In John Huston's 1982 film adaptation of the hit stage musical Annie, Holder played the role of Punjab, Albert Finney's bodyguard. Holder portrayed the Ghost of Christmas Future in John Grin's Christmas, a 1986 variation on Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol directed by its star, Robert Guillaume. Holder portrayed Nelson 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 2005 film 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.),[18] ardent art collector, book author, and music composer. As a painter, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship in fine arts in 1956.[19] A book of his photography, Adam, was published by Viking Press in 1986.[20]

Personal life

Holder with his wife, Carmen de Lavallade. Photo by Carl Van Vechten, 1955.
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 2005 documentary, 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.





Year Title Role Notes
1957 Carib Gold Voo Doo Dancer Film debut
1959 Porgy and Bess Dancer Uncredited
1962 All Night Long Himself Uncredited
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 Samedi Also choreography
1975 The Noah Friday Voice
1976 Swashbuckler Cudjo Also choreography
1982 Annie Punjab
1987 Where Confucius Meets the New Wave Narrator
1992 Boomerang Nelson
1998 Hasards ou coïncidences Gerry
1999 Goosed Dr. Bowman
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Narrator Voice
2006 Joséphine Baker. Black Diva in a White Man's World[3]
2008 The Magistical Narrator
Year Title Role Notes
1958 Aladdin The Genie
1967 Androcles and the Lion The Lion
1968 A Gun for Jai Mayko
1973 The Man Without a Country Slave on ship
1983 Alice in Wonderland The Cheshire Cat
1986 John Grin's Christmas Ghost of Christmas Future
1988 The Cosby Show Choreography Choreographed the season 5 opening credits
1990 The 62nd Annual Academy Awards Performing
1998–1999 Bear in the Big Blue House Ray the Sun Voice
2002–2003 Cyberchase Master Pi Voice, Episode 118, "Problem Solving in Shangri-La"
Voice, Episode 209, "Double Trouble"
2011 Celebrity Apprentice Himself
Video games
Year Title Role Notes
1994 Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller Jean St. Mouchoir One of only two live actors in the game (as opposed to voice only)
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Narrator Voice


  1. ^ You're Watching Video Music Box Showtime Documentary Films (2021)
  2. ^ Zita Allen. "Great Performances – Biography, Geoffrey Holder". Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. Retrieved November 26, 2011 – via cited By PBS.
  3. ^ a b Lucy E. Cross. "Geoffrey Holder". MasterworksBroadway. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  4. ^ Hare, Breeanna (October 7, 2014). "Geoffrey Holder, famed dancer, 7Up pitchman, dies". CNN.
  5. ^ a b "Geoffrey Holder, Bond villain and dancer, dies aged 84", BBC News, October 6, 2014; accessed October 8, 2014.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Stephen Holden (March 12, 2009). "Creatively Connected Through Dance and Life". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  8. ^ "Choreographers". Oxford African American Studies Center. Retrieved November 26, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Geoffrey Holder, National Visionary". VisionaryProject. Retrieved November 16, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Breeanna Hare, "Geoffrey Holder, famed dancer, 7Up pitchman, dies",, October 6, 2014.
  11. ^ "That 7 Up Uncola Guy: 'Memba Him?!". TMZ. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  12. ^ Suzy Byrne, "James Bond Villain and 'Annie' Costar Geoffrey Holder Dies at 84" Archived October 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Yahoo! Movies, October 6, 2014; accessed October 8, 2014.
  13. ^ Geoffrey Holder at the Internet Broadway Database
  14. ^ Yolanda Sangweni, "Legendary Dancer and Actor Geoffrey Holder Passes Away", Essence, October 6, 2014.
  15. ^ Kina Poon. "Geoffrey Holder's Royal Vision". Dance Magazine. Archived from the original on December 16, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  16. ^ Anna Kisselgoff (January 13, 1982). "Harlem Dance Theatre Presents Firebird". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  17. ^ "Geoffrey Holder". DanceConsortium. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  18. ^ Evelyn Diaz, "Tony Award-Winning Director, Dancer Geoffrey Holder Dies at 84",, October 6, 2014.
  19. ^ "Geoffrey Holder Dead: Bond Villain Baron Samedi Dies", Huffington Post, October 6, 2014; accessed October 18, 2020.
  20. ^ Geoffrey Holder (1986). Adam. ISBN 0-670-81028-2.


External links

This page was last edited on 17 March 2023, at 20:34
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