Jennifer Dunning and William McDonald of the New York Times are reporting that legendary choreographer, actor and artist Geoffrey Holder has died. Family spokesman Charles M. Mirotznik, said the cause of death was complications due to pneumonia.
Dunning and McDonald write:
“Geoffrey Richard Holder was born into a middle-class family on Aug. 1, 1930, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, one of four children of Louise de Frense and Arthur Holder, who had immigrated from Barbados. Geoffrey attended Queen’s Royal College, an elite secondary school in Trinidad. There he struggled with a stammer that would plague him into early adulthood.”
Holder’s West Indian roots influenced his art, dance and performances.
“Holder directed a dance troupe from his native Trinidad and Tobago, danced on Broadway and at the Metropolitan Opera, won Tony Awards in 1975 for musical direction and costume design for “The Wiz,” a rollicking, all-black version of “The Wizard of Oz.” His choreography was in the repertory of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Dance Theater of Harlem. He acted onstage and in films and was an accomplished painter, photographer and sculptor whose works have been shown in galleries and museums. He published a cookbook.”
Many fans remember Holder from his infectious 7Up commercials and his performance as villain Baron Samedi in the James Bond classic, Live and Let Live (1973). Many will remember him as Nelson, the hyper-sexed ad creative in the 1992 black film classic Boomerang, starring Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Robin Givens, Halle Berry, Grace Jones, David Allan Grier, Tisha Campbell, Eartha Kitt and Lela Rochon.
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Holder was married to legendary dancer Carmen De Lavallade, to whom he proposed just four days after meeting her. He and De Lavallade, who married in 1955, danced in West Indian-influenced style and performed modern dance. Holder set her signature solo dance, “Come Sunday,” to African-American spirituals.
Mr. Holder is survived by Ms. de Lavallade and their son, Léo. He was 84.
Read this article in its entirety at The New York Times.