Geoffrey Holder

Geoffrey Holder Biography

Geoffrey Holder as Baron Samedi

Geoffrey Holder, born on August 1, 1930, was a multi-talented performer who left a lasting impact on the world of dance, music, acting, and art. Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Holder was educated at Tranquility School and Queen’s Royal College before making his performance debut at the age of seven in his brother’s dance company.

Geoffrey Holder was invited to work with choreographer Agnes de Mille in New York after she spotted his work. He then moved to New York and joined Katherine Dunham’s dance school and taught folkloric forms.

Holder went on to become a principal dancer for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet from 1955 to 1956, before making his Broadway debut in the musical House of Flowers.


Geoffrey Holder’s film career started in 1957 with a role as a voo voo dancer in Carib Gold. Among his many films, he went on to star in Doctor Dolittle (1967) and was cast as the Sorcerer in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) in 1972. In 1973, Holder played the role of Baron Samedi in the Bond movie Live and Let Die, contributing to the film’s choreography, too.

In 1975, Geoffrey Holder won two Tony Awards for direction and costume design of The Wiz, becoming the first black man to be nominated in either category. He also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design.

Holder married and lived in New York with dancer Carmen de Lavallade in 1955, and they had one son named Léo. Geoffrey Holder passed away in Manhattan in 2014 due to complications from pneumonia at the age of 84.