Multi-faceted entertainer Geoffrey Holder, most famous as the “uncola” spokesman for 7 UP in the 1970s and 80s and for the role of Nelson in the Eddie Murphy-starring “Boomerang,” passed away from complications due to pneumonia October 5, according to the family attorney. His imposing 6-foot-6 frame and booming baritone were just two of his trademarks.
The Trinidadian born-entertainer’s work was never restricted to just one genre. From painting and dance choreography, to television and film, to art direction and costume design, Holder’s hands were in every aspect of the business over the course of his career of 50+ years.
Among his many achievements, Holder made his Broadway debut in 1954 in the play “House of Flowers” before becoming a principal dancer in the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in 1955.
Holder made his film debut in “All Night Long,” a British then-modern day remake of the Shakespeare play “Othello,” followed by a turn as a henchman in the James Bond film “Live And Let Die” from 1972, which he also helped choreograph. He also made history as the first black man to ever be nominated for the respective Tony Awards for best direction and best costume design, both of which were for the stage production of “The Wiz” back in 1975.
In between periodic movie roles, like the role of Punjab in the 1982 remake of “Annie” and the aforementioned role in “Boomerang,” dance choreography for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and directing another Broadway production “Timbuktu!,” Holder still remained active in show business. Most recently, he served as the narrator in Tim Burton’s remake of “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory” and revived his 7 UP persona in the 2011 season finale of “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
He’s survived by his wife Carme de Lavallade and their son Léo.
Dylan “CineMasai” Green is a movie geek, hip-hop aficionado, and pita chip enthusiast. Find him on Twitter.
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