Website last updated: 7-5-2024

Geoffrey Holder (Actor)

By: Anders Frejdh
Geoffrey Holder Baron Samedi
Baron Samedi in LIVE AND LET DIE 1973

I never met Geoffrey Holder in person but would like to include him in this section as I got a nice autograph from him thanks to a friend of mine who met him at Collectormania in Manchester in November 2006.

About Geoffrey Holder:
Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad of African descent, Holder is a Tony-award winning stage director and costume designer. He is known for his height (6'6"), heavily-accented deep basso voice and hearty laugh.

One of four children, Holder attended The Tranquillity School and secondary school at Queens Royal College in Port-of-Spain. At age seven, he began dancing in his brother's company.

In 1952, the choreographer Agnes de Mille saw Holder dance on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. She invited him to New York; he would teach at the Katherine Dunham School of Dance for two years. He was a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York from 1955-1956.

In 1955, Holder married dancer Carmen De Lavallade, whom he met when both were in the cast of House of Flowers, a musical by Harold Arlen (music and lyrics) and Truman Capote (lyrics and book). They were the subject of a 2004 film, Carmen and Geoffrey. They live in New York City and have one son, Leo Anthony Lamont. Holder's brother was the London-based artist Boscoe Holder.

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 Doolittle (1967) as Willie Shakespeare. In the 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 James Bond film Live and Let Die (1973) on which he also contributed to the film's choreography. In addition to his movie appearances, Holder became a spokesman for the 1970s 7 Up soft drink "uncola" advertising campaign.

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 also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design. The show ran for 1672 performances over a four-year period until it was revived in 1984.

As a choreographer, Holder has 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), 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!". Holder's 1957 piece "Bele" is also part of the Dance Theater of Harlem repertory.

In the 1982 movie version of the musical Annie, Holder played the role of Punjab. He was also the voice of Ray in Bear in the Big Blue House (1997) and also provided narration for Tim Burton's version of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). 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.

He was also a prolific painter, ardent art collector, book author and music composer. As a painter, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship. A book of his photography, Adam, was published by Viking in 1986.

Other people involved in Live and Let Die featured on FSWL:
>Bob Dix (actor)
>Clifton James (actor)
>David Hedison (actor)
>Doug Robinson (stuntman)
>George Martin (soundtrack)
>Gloria Hendry (actress)
>Jane Seymour (actress)
>Lois Maxwell (actor)
>Madeline Smith (actress)
>Monty Norman (composer of the James Bond theme)
>Paul McCartney (theme song with The Wings)
>Paul Weston (stuntman)
>Rocky Taylor (stuntman)
>Roger Moore (actor)
>Vic Armstrong (stuntman)

Photo above:
Geoffrey Holder in Manchester 2006. Photo by Duncan Carter.

Text written and updated by Anders Frejdh in October 2014



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