Geoffrey Holder was born in 1930 in Port-of-Spain, capital of the Caribbean island of Trinidad.
Art runs in the family - his grandfather was a painter as is his brother, Boscoe. Both brothers also shared an interest in dancing and, by the age of 7, Geoffrey was already an excellent dancer. Boscoe had already formed the Holder Dance Company, and Geoffrey took this over when Boscoe moved to London to concentrate on painting. In 1954, Geoffrey took the troupe to New York, and funded the trip by sellling a number of his paintings.
Soon, Geoffrey was not only dancing but designing ballet costumes, working on sets and undertaking choreography. In 1954, Holder, who stands 6' 6" tall, was invited to play the part of Samedi in the Broadway musical House Of Flowers. In this show he met fellow dancer Carmen De Lavellade, and they have now been married for 52 years.
In 1961, Holder got his first film role in All Night Long, but it was to be another 12 years before his most famous film role, as Baron Samedi in Live And Let Die (1973), came along. Holder's dancing skills were used in the film as he was also responsible for all of the choreography.
With his half white, half black face and strange costumes, the character of Baron Samedi uses his supernatural presence to keep people away from Dr Kananga's poppy fields. Samedi is a character that cannot be killed and is seen at the very end of the film, enigmatically sitting on the front of Bond & Solitaire's train.
Geoffrey Holder has a real dislike of snakes, and some of his scenes, particularly the one where he falls into a snake-filled coffin, caused him much anguish.
Geoffrey Holder is well known to American TV audiences for his 1970s 7Up commercials in which he extolled the virtues of 'uncola nuts' (lemon or lime). His trade-mark bald head and deep, powerful laugh, were used to good effect for these commercials which were selected by 'Advertising Age' as one of the top 50 commercials of the period 1940-1990.
Throughout his life, Geoffrey Holder has continued to paint, and in 2002 a lavish book of his paintings was published. The book 'Geoffrey Holder, A Life in Theatre and Art' by Jennifer Dunning, also contains a full biography of this highly talented man.
Geoffrey signed my Jeff Marshall litho also a photograph and my Bond Girls book.
I met Geoffrey Holder at the G-Mex Centre in Manchester in November 2006. He told me that I was looking very smart, and I said "Thank you," and added that he sounded just like he did in the Bond film. He put on a high, squeaky voice and then said, "Well I don't now, do I?"
Later films have included the roles of Punjab in the musical Annie in 1982, and Nelson in the Eddie Murphy comedy Boomerang (1992).
Geoffrey Holder as Baron Samedi
in Live And Let Die
Geoffrey & Carmen
of himself as Baron Samedi in Live And Let Die
Geoffrey Holder signed this photograph for me
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Geoffrey Holder (1930-2014)
Geoffrey Holder died in Manhattan on 5th October 2014.