Geoffrey Holder/Photo Credit:

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Dancer, actor, painter, designer, photographer, fashion icon and all around “Renaissance Man,” Geoffrey Holder has died. According to the family spokesperson, Charles M. Mirotznik, Holder passed away on Sunday in Manhattan from complications of pneumonia. He was 84.

By all estimates, Holder was the epitome of Black art and culture with a career spanning over 50 years. His journey began in NYC in the 1950’s as a dancer and choreographer working with such notables as Katherine Dunham, Alvin Ailey, and the great Josephine Baker. During his down time, Holder was an avid painter with hundreds of colorful works showcasing his beloved homeland of Trinidad. In addition to dancing, he was an accomplished actor, appearing in a number of stage and film productions including House of Flowers, Doctor Dolittle, Annie, Boomerang, and his most famous role to date…Live and Let Die, where he played the voodoo Villain, Baron Samedi.

In 1975, Holder signed on to direct and costume design the all-black version of The Wizard of Oz  better known as The Wiz  featuring Stephanie Mills. He picked up a Tony Award for both efforts, becoming the first Black man to win in those categories. He would later go on to direct and choreograph the musical, Timbuktu, starring the legendary, Eartha Kitt.

Holder is probably best known for his role as the charismatic spokesperson for 7Up during the late 70’s and 80’s. Dressed in all white from head to toe, Holder’s “absolutely maaarvelous” would become a classic catchphrase throughout the decade.

He was survived by his wife and life dance partner, Carmen de Lavallade and their son, Leo.

Check out a few photos of Holder in his signature garb as well as a few videos of his works:

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Dancer/Photo Credit:

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Fashion Icon/Photo Credit:

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The Painter/Photo Credit:

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Tony winning-director of  The Wiz /Photo Credit:

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Renaissance Man/Photo Credit: