Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Tony Award winner, Bond villain Geoffrey Holder dies

Holder won Tonys for, among other achievements, directing the show 'The Wiz.' In addition, he portrayed a villain in the James Bond film 'Live and Let Die' and starred in the movies 'Annie' and 'Doctor Dolittle.'

View video

Geoffrey Holder starred in the movie 'Live and Let Die.'

Tina Fineberg/AP

View photo

Geoffrey Holder, a Tony Award-winning director, actor, painter, dancer, and choreographer who during an eclectic show business career led the groundbreaking show "The Wiz" to Broadway, pitched 7-Up on TV, and played a scary villain in a James Bond film, has died. He was 84.

Holder died Sunday at Mount Sinai St. Luke's Hospital in New York, according to Anna Glass, a producer and family friend.

About these ads

The 6-foot-6, Trinidad-born Holder won Tonys in 1975 for directing and designing the costumes for his all-black retelling of "The Wizard of Oz." In 1978, he directed and choreographed the lavish Broadway musical "Timbuktu!" starring Eartha Kitt and earned another Tony nomination for best costumes.

Recommended:The 25 best movie musicals of all time

On TV, Holder played roles on TV's "Tarzan," voiced the leader on the PBS Kids animated show "Cyberchase," and pitched 7-Up as "the un-cola" in a commercial in which he wore a white suit and hat, purring "maaarvelous" as he drank the soda.

During 1955 and 1956, Holder was a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York. He also appeared with his troupe, Geoffrey Holder and Company, and worked with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Dance Theatre of Harlem.

His film roles include playing Punjab in the 1982 film version of "Annie," a role in 1967's "Doctor Dolittle" with Rex Harrison, opposite Eddie Murphy in "Boomerang," narrating Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and playing the top-hatted voodoo villain Baron Samedi in "Live and Let Die" – the first of the 007 movies to star Roger Moore.

Holder co-authored and illustrated a collection of Caribbean folklore, "Black Gods, Green Islands," in 1959, and had a book of recipes, "Geoffrey Holder's Caribbean Cookbook," in 1973. He painted throughout his life and received a Guggenheim fellowship in fine arts in 1956.

He is survived by his wife, the dancer Carmen de Lavallade, and their son, Leo.