Geoffrey Holder, the Original Tony-Winning Director of The Wiz, Has Died
Holder also won a Tony for his costumes of the fan-favorite musical.
Geoffrey Holder, the Tony Award-winning director and costume designer of the 1975 musical The Wiz, has died of pneumonia at the age of 84, a spokesperson for his family has confirmed.
The 6-foot-6 Geoffrey Lamont Holder was born August 1, 1930, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, one of four children of Barbadian immigrants Louise de Frense and Arthur Holder. He attended Queen's Royal College in Trinidad, and left the country in the late 1940s for England.
He took over the Holder Dancing Company, an organization formed by his brother, Arthur Aldwyn Holder, and brought it to New York in 1954 under an invitation from choreographer Agnes de Mille. He was a principal dancer in the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in 1955 and 1956, and continued to direct his own company until it disbanded in 1960.
In 1954, Holder made his Broadway debut as a featured dancer in the Harold Arlen-Truman Capote musical House of Flowers, during which time he met his wife, the dancer Carmen de Lavallade, to whom he remained married until his death.
Holden's many other Broadway credits include Waiting for Godot, Josephine Baker, and Timbuktu!, for which he received a 1978 Tony nomination for Best Costume Design. His many screen appearances include the films Live and Let Die, Doctor Dolittle, Annie, and Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask). He also served, through the 1970s and '80s, as the television pitchman for the beverage 7UP.
Holder is survived by de Lavallade and their son, Léo.