RIP: Geoffrey Holder – Trinidad Renaissance Man turned New Yorker (1930 – 2013)


People of every generation may know him for one or more things.

I particularly remembered this great man from his role in the hit 90’s film “BOOMERANG”, where he played the ever eager and animated co-worker to Eddie Murphy that directed the creepy yet hilarious Strange’ Commercial starring Grace Jones’ character, Strangé.

Some may know him from the late 70’s and early 80’s 7UP commercial sporting a an all white fit and flaunting his Trinidadian accent.

I’m guessing few may know him from his dance work, like in the 1956 film, “CARIB GOLD”.

Anyways. This man was a legend and just passed away at age 84. Here are some facts you should know about him.

Born in Trinidad & Tobago’s Port of Spain to Barbadian immigrants. He was known for his height (6 ft 6 in), “hearty laugh” and heavily accented bass voice.

In 1955, he married Carmen de Lavallade and they have a son named Léo.

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

In 1973, he was a henchman – Baron Samedi – in the Bond movie Live and Let Die; He 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.

In the 1982 film Annie, Holder played the role of Punjab…which is so racist, let’s not even go there.

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

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