Geoffrey Holder 1930-2014
October 6, 2014 10:47 AM   Subscribe

The great Geoffrey Holder died on Sunday at the age of 84 Mr. Holder was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad on August 1st, 1930 and danced with his brother Boscoe’s dance troupe as a child. He arrived in New York in 1952 at the invitation of the legendary choreographer, Agnes de Mille and, to pay his fare, he sold 20 of his paintings.

He would go on to win a Guggenheim Fellowship for painting in 1957. A few years before, he was a principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and appeared on Broadway in Truman Capote’s “House of Flowers,” where he would meet Carmen de Lavallade, his wife of 59 years.

In 1975, Mr. Holder won two Tony Awards in the same evening for directing and choreographing the Broadway musical, “The Wiz.” He is best known to most for his film and commercial roles: as Baron Samedi in the 1973 James Bond film, “Live and Let Die” and of course, as the “Un-cola Man” in the ubiquitous 1970s 7-Up commercials and the 1992 film “Boomerang.”

The tribute/announcement by Leo Holder.

LA Times Obituary

Photo gallery from the VintageBlackGlamour Tumblr

LA Times Photo Gallery

Afro-Cuban dance sequence from the movie Carib Gold (1956), featuring dancer Geoffrey Holder

Judith Jamison & the dancers of Alvin Ailey company with Matt Rich throw a surprise early birthday for Holder

Clip from from Holder's "nightclub act", filmed at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater, New York City.

Geoffrey Holder: The Moment I Lost My Speech Stammer

Geoffrey & Carmen: A Memoir in Four Movements
posted by magstheaxe (24 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
posted by infinitewindow at 10:50 AM on October 6, 2014

Geoffrey Holder did this.

posted by Sys Rq at 10:51 AM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also played Punjab in the 1982 version of Annie foisted on Gen X.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:52 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

As a little kid, I saw "Annie", where Holder played the part of Punjab. Mom tells me I stood up in my seat hollering at the screen when Punjab rescued Annie from falling off the raised bridge. As an adult, I saw others of his films, such as Live and Let Die, and learned that he was a multi-talented artist.

RIP Mr. Holder, you were super-impressive in anything you took part in.
posted by LN at 10:53 AM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Being 8 in 1982 I lived and breathed everything Annie. Thank you for this wonderful tribute to his many talents, and god speed Mr. Holder.
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:57 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh no. He was so magnificently talented, and I always love catching hints of his influence on other choreographers, especially Paula Abdul's work in Coming to America, which is such a celebratory homage to the Prodigal Prince.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:58 AM on October 6, 2014

Mr. Holder and Carmen de Lavallade were amazing performers and too often, overlooked. I love "Annie" as much as many other '80s babies but I'm sorry that this is for many, the only glimpse at Mr. Holder's genius this generation saw. His dancing was electric!

posted by nubianinthedesert at 11:00 AM on October 6, 2014

posted by sammyo at 11:07 AM on October 6, 2014

posted by Smart Dalek at 11:30 AM on October 6, 2014

Geoffrey Holder did this
posted by briank at 11:34 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Whoops, did not see the earlier link. Mods feel free to delete.
posted by briank at 11:36 AM on October 6, 2014

posted by Ber at 12:16 PM on October 6, 2014

posted by droplet at 12:32 PM on October 6, 2014

Please keep briank's link up. His is the earlier version that I remember as a little girl from the 60's, I believe. It was a time when very, very few African Americans were seen on TV. I remember how arresting this commercial was, not just because of the color of his skin, but because of how his overwhelming charisma delighted everyone who first saw him. It was much commentted on at the time, and although I lived among people who were not very progressive in these matters, everyone I knew instantly liked him.

I never understood why he didn't become a much bigger star.

posted by marsha56 at 12:38 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wonder if JK Rowling had him in mind when she described Kingsley Shacklebolt's voice.
posted by brujita at 1:16 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, you think he's dead and then he springs this on you...

posted by doop at 1:37 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mahvelous, simply, mahvelous!


EDIT: Briank you are too quick, man. And OP quicker yet... sigh.
posted by Splunge at 2:21 PM on October 6, 2014

Oh, that story from his son linked above!
posted by NorthernLite at 2:31 PM on October 6, 2014

Oh wow, I was an Annie obsessive in 1982 as well. I remember Geoffrey Holder in that! I thought he was the bee's knees.

That Carib Gold clip above is wonderful. What a talented man.

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:41 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I loved Annie back in the day too - I always think of him as Punjab.

posted by SisterHavana at 1:04 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


NPR's remembrance from this morning (audio only)
posted by Gelatin at 7:08 AM on October 7, 2014

This is a cola nut:

This is an UNcola nut:
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:28 AM on October 7, 2014

posted by zaelic at 2:55 PM on October 7, 2014

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