Geoffrey Holder

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Geoffrey Holder
GeoffreyHolder11.15.08ByLuigiNovi.jpg
Holder at the Big Apple Con, November 15, 2008.
Born Geoffrey Richard Holder
(1930-08-01)August 1, 1930
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Died October 5, 2014(2014-10-05) (aged 84)
New York, New York, U.S.
Cause of death
Pneumonia
Alma mater Queen's Royal College
Occupation Actor, choreographer, director, costume designer, dancer, painter, vocalist, voice artist
Years active 1957-2014
Height 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Spouse(s) Carmen de Lavallade (1955–2014; his death)
Family Boscoe Holder (brother)
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, choreographer, director, dancer, painter, costume designer, singer and voice-over artist.

Early life[edit]

Born in Port of Spain to Barbadian immigrants. He was known for his height (6 ft 6 in), "hearty laugh" and heavily accented bass voice.[1]

One of four children,[2] of parents who had emigrated to the United States from Trinidad,[3] Holder attended Tranquillity School and then secondary school at Queen's Royal College in Port-of-Spain. At the age of seven, he began dancing in the company of his elder brother, Boscoe, a Tony Award-winning stage director and costume designer.[4]

Career[edit]

In 1952, choreographer Agnes de Mille saw Holder dance in St. Thomas.[5] She invited him to New York; he would teach at the Katherine Dunham School of Dance for two years.[6]

Holder was a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York City from 1955-56.[7] He made his Broadway debut in House of Flowers, a musical by Harold Arlen (music and lyrics) and Truman Capote (lyrics and book).[8] He also starred in an all-black production of Waiting for Godot in 1957.[8]

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;[9] He contributed to the film's choreography.

In addition to his movie appearances, Holder became a spokesman for the 1970s and 1980s 7 Up soft drink "uncola" and 1980s "crisp and clean, and no caffeine" and "never had it, never will" advertising campaigns.[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.[1] He won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design. The show ran for 1672 performances over a four-year period; it was revived in 1984.[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![4][14][15][16] Holder's 1957 piece "Bele" is part of the Dance Theater of Harlem repertory.[4]

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.[17]

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[19] in fine arts in 1956.[20] A book of his photography, Adam, was published by Viking Press in 1986.[21]

Personal life[edit]

In 1955, Holder married dancer Carmen de Lavallade, whom he met when both were in the cast of the musical House of Flowers.[1] They lived in New York City and had one son, Léo. They were the subject of a 2004 film, Carmen & Geoffrey.[5] One of his siblings (an elder brother), Boscoe, was a Tony Award-winning stage director and costume designer.[2]

Death[edit]

Holder with wife Carmen de Lavallade. photo by Carl Van Vechten, 1955

Geoffrey Holder died in Manhattan from complications from pneumonia on October 5, 2014. His immediate survivors were his wife, Carmen, and their son, Léo.[3][22]

Productions[edit]

Broadway[edit]

Radio[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
1962 All Night Long Film debut
1967 Doctor Dolittle Willie Shakespeare
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
1978 Doctor J. Kanye
1982 Annie Punjab
1992 Boomerang Nelson
1998 Hasards ou coïncidences Gerry
1999 Goosed
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Narrator
2006 Joséphine Baker. Black Diva in a White Man's World[1]
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1958 Aladdin the Genie
1967 Androcles and the Lion
1983 Alice in Wonderland the Cheshire Cat
1985 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
1997 Bear in the Big Blue House Ray Voice
2002–2003 Cyberchase Master Pi Episode 118, "Problem Solving in Shangri-La"
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)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Lucy E. Cross. "Geoffrey Holder". MasterworksBroadway. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b BBC profile of Geoffrey Holder; accessed October 13, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Dunning, Jennifer; McDonald, William (October 6, 2014). "Geoffrey Holder, Dancer, Choreographer and Man of Flair, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved October 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Zita Allen. Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, cited By PBS "Great Performances – Biography, Geoffrey Holder". Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Stephen Holden (March 12, 2009). "Creatively Connected Through Dance and Life". New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  6. ^ Oxford African American Studies Center "Choreographers". Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Geoffrey Holder, National Visionary". VisionaryProject. Retrieved November 16, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Breeanna Hare, "Geoffrey Holder, famed dancer, 7Up pitchman, dies", CNN.com, October 6, 2014.
  9. ^ "Geoffrey Holder, Bond villain and dancer, dies aged 84", BBC.co.uk, October 6, 2014; accessed October 8, 2014.
  10. ^ TMZ "That 7 Up Uncola Guy: 'Memba Him?!". 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. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  15. ^ Anna Kisselgoff (January 13, 1982). "Harlem Dance Theatre Presents Firebird". New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Dance Consortium". Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  17. ^ Geoffrey Holder at the Internet Movie Database
  18. ^ Evelyn Diaz, "Tony Award-Winning Director, Dancer Geoffrey Holder Dies at 84", BET.com, October 6, 2014.
  19. ^ DanceConsortium "Geoffrey Holder". Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Geoffrey Holder Dead: Bond Villain Baron Samedi Dies", Huffington Post, October 6, 2014; accessed October 8, 2014.
  21. ^ Geoffrey Holder. Amazon.com "Adam". Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  22. ^ Chang, Lia (October 7, 2014). "Geoffrey Holder, Artist, Actor, Dancer, Choreographer, Two-Time Tony Award-winning Director and Costume Designer for The Wiz, Dies at 84; Son Pens Intimate Account of Last Days". Backstage Pass with Lia Chang. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Holder, Geoffrey; Harshman Tom (1959). Black Gods, Green Islands. Garden City, New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-8371-2789-0. 
  • Holder, Geoffrey (1973). Geoffrey Holder's Caribbean Cookbook. New York: Viking Press. OCLC 2700931. 
  • Holder, Geoffrey (1986). Adam. New York: Viking. ISBN 0-670-81028-2. 
  • Holder, Geoffrey; University Art Museum. (1995). Geoffrey Holder: the painter. Albany, New York: State University of New York at Albany. ISBN 0-910763-13-5. 
  • Holder, Geoffrey; Falke, Stefan; Lovelace, Earl (2004). The Dancing spirits of Trinidad: Moko Jumbies. New York: Pointed Leaf Press. ISBN 0-9727661-3-8. 

External links[edit]