Geoffrey Holder, the Tony-winning actor, dancer and choreographer known to millions as Baron Samedi in Bond movie Live and Let Die, has died at 84.
Born in Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, Holder was also a composer, a designer and a celebrated painter.
He will be best remembered to many as the cackling Voodoo villain who dogged Roger Moore’s footsteps in his first outing as secret agent James Bond.
Internationally known for the honey-smooth bass-baritone that resonated through countless voice-overs as for the white linen suit and Panama hat that set off his gleaming Caribbean features — saucer eyes, broad-as-the-George-Washington-Bridge smile and shaved head — Holder became an advertising icon in the 1970s and ’80s as the pitchman for 7Up, declaring it “the Un-Cola — you know, Sev’mup – wet, wild, all that….”
His other films included 1982 musical Annie, in which he played Punjab.
Often cast in exotic roles, he played a tribal chieftain in 1967 film Doctor Dolittle and a sorceror in Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask).
More recently, his distinctive bass voice was heard narrating Tim Burton’s 2005 film version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Holder, one of four children, was taught to dance by his older brother Boscoe, joining his dance company at the age of seven.
He became director of the company in the late 1940s after Boscoe moved to London, before moving to the US in 1954.
A top-hatted spirit of death in Haitian Voodoo culture, the character made full use of the actor’s imposing physique and physical dexterity.
He won two Tony Awards for best costume design and musical direction in the original Broadway production of The Wiz, an all-black version of The Wizard of Oz. He also appeared in an all-black version of Waiting for Godot
According to a family spokesman, he died on Sunday in New York from complications caused by pneumonia, He is survived by his wife, Carmen de Lavallade, and their son Leo.
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