“Geoffrey Holder, 84, the dancer, choreographer, actor, composer, designer and painter 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, not least with his outsize personality, died on Sunday in Manhattan,” reports The New York Times.
“[T]he cause was complications of pneumonia,” the paper says.
The Times obituary adds: “Mr. Holder directed a dance troupe from his native Trinidad and Tobago, danced on Broadway and at the Metropolitan Opera and won Tony Awards in 1975 for direction of a musical 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.”
And then, of course, there was the power of television. Says The Times, “Mr. Holder acknowledged that he achieved his widest celebrity as the jolly, white-suited television pitchman of 7Up in the 1970s and ’80s, when in a run of commercials, always in tropical settings, he happily endorsed the soft drink as an ‘absolutely maaarvelous’ alternative to Coca-Cola — or ‘the Uncola,’ as the ads put it.”
The Los Angeles Times obituary notes that Holder “also left an imprint on pop culture as an actor, lending theatrical flair to the 1973 James Bond movie ‘Live and Let Die’ as the flamboyant villain Baron Samedi.”
He is survived by his wife, Carmen De Lavallade. and their son, Leo.
To read more details about Holder’s life, we urge you to click on the links above and read the full obituaries.
Here’s Holder in one of his famous commercials for 7Up: