Geoffrey Holder, An Incredible Talent

Oct. 5: Geoffrey Holder, 84: Dancer, choreographer, actor.

Geoffrey Holder

Geoffrey Holder

I didn’t know Geoffrey Holder existed until I saw Live and Let Die, the first James Bond movie to star Roger Moore as OO7. The next time I saw him, he was doing a 7Up commercial. His deep resonant voice made him unforgettable.

He was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad into a middle class family. He was taught painting and dancing by his older brother, Boscoe Holder (died April 21, 2007) who was also a choreographer and actor.

In 1954 he made his way to New York and made his Broadway debut in the Caribbean-themed musical “House of Flowers” with a cast that included Pearl Bailey and Alvin Ailey.

Herbet Ross did the choreography but the Banda Dance was choreographed by Holder. He met and married a fellow cast member, Carmen DeLavallade, and the two had a son together. In 1975 he won a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for “The Wiz.” He also won the Tony for best costume design.

He was an author and wrote a book on folklore and one on Caribbean cuisine. In the 70s and 80s he put his striking 6’6″ presence and deep bass voice to use selling various items through commercials, including 7Up. Who could forget him as Baron Samedi in the 1973 James Bond movie Live and Let Die, which he also served as Choreographer.

He was the narrator for Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and for the 2008 The Little Wizard: Guardian of the Magic Crystals.

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