Geoffrey Holder

Celebrating Black History Month in Theatre
Posted on 02/15/2021
Image of Geoffrey Holder(from Mark Zimmerman, theatre arts director Firestone CLC and Akron School for the Arts)

Few cultural figures of the last half of the 20th century were as multifaceted as Geoffrey Holder, and few had a public presence as unmistakable as his, with his gleaming pate atop a 6-foot-6 frame, full-bodied laugh and bassoon of a voice laced with the lilting cadences of the Caribbean.

Geoffrey Holder directed a dance troupe from his native Trinidad and Tobago, danced on Broadway and at the Metropolitan Opera, and won Tony Awards in 1975 for direction of a musical and costume design for “The Wiz,” a rollicking, all-black version of “The Wizard of Oz.” His choreography was in the repertory of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Dance Theater of Harlem. He acted onstage and in films and was an accomplished painter, photographer and sculptor whose works have been shown in galleries and museums. He published a cookbook.

Holder acknowledged that he achieved his widest celebrity as the jolly, white-suited television pitchman for 7Up in the 1970s and ’80s, when in a run of commercials, always in tropical settings, he happily endorsed the soft drink as an “absolutely maaarvelous” alternative to Coca-Cola — or “the Uncola,” as the ads put it.

Image of Geoffrey Holder
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