Actor, director, dancer, and choreographer Geoffrey Holder was honored at the 2014 LiLY Legacies Awards Gala. He died Oct. 5, 2014, at age 84.
Born in Trinidad and Tobago Aug. 20, 1930, Holder was a man of flair who “used his manifold talents to infuse the arts with the flavor of his native West Indies and to put a singular stamp on the American cultural scene,” according to the New York Times. Best known for pitching 7UP in 1970s and ’80s television commercials, Holder was a multiple Tony Award winner. In 1975, he won two Tony Awards for best direction and costume design for musical “The Wiz.” He was the first black man to be nominated in either category.
Holder was also known for movie roles, including James Bond villain Baron Samedi in “Live and Let Die” (1973) and bodyguard Punjab in the musical “Annie” (1982).
Few cultural figures of the last half of the 20th century were as multifaceted as Holder, and few had a public presence as unmistakable as his, with his gleaming pate atop a 6-foot-6 frame, full-bodied laugh and bassoon of a voice laced with the lilting cadences of the Caribbean.
Geoffrey Holder and Carmen De Lavallade were married from 1955 until his death. Their work and personal lives are documented in the inspiring and quirky documentary “Carmen & Geoffrey.”