Holder as Baron Samedi in "House of Flowers" (1954)

On the set of "House of Flowers" with Carmen de Lavallade and Pearl Bailey (1954)

Holder with wife Carmen de Lavallade


DATE OF BIRTH: August 1, 1930
PLACE OF BIRTH: Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
  • Tranquillity School
  • Queen's Royal College
  • CAREER:                                 Holder was the complete artist: dancer; stage and screen actor; choreographer; director of stage performances; costume designer; and painter. He arrived in New York, USA, in 1953 and got his first big break in American theatre when he played two characters (Baron Samedi and Champion) in the 1954 Broadway play "House of Flowers." Through the efforts of Holder, "House of Flowers" introduced the steelband to Broadway. He made theatre history by being the first Black man to be nominated for the direction of a musical (The Wiz) and for costuming (The Wiz); he went on to capture both awards. He made numerous appearances in U.S. films and television commercials from the mid-1970s to the 2000s. His film appearances included:
    • 1957 - Carib Gold
    • 1958 - Aladdin [Character: Genie]
    • 1961 - All Night Long [Character: Self]
    • 1967 - Doctor Doolittle [Character: Willie Shakespeare]; Androcles and the Lion [Character: Lion]
    • 1969 - Krakatoa, East of Java [Character: Bazooki]
    • 1972 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex [Character: Sorcerer]
    • 1973 - Live and Let Die [Character: Baron Samedi]; The Man Without a Country [Character: Slave on Ship]
    • 1976 - Swashbuckler [Character: Cujo Quadrill]
    • 1981 - The Gold Bug [Character: Jupiter]
    • 1982 - Annie [Character: Punjab]; Lights, Camera, Annie! [Character: Punjab]
    • 1983 - Alice in Wonderland [Character: The Cheshire Cat]
    • 1987 - Ghost of A Chance [Character: Johnson]
    • 1988 - Christmas
    • 1990 - Dance Black America
    • 1992 - Boomerang [Character: Nelson]
    • 1995 - Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller [Character: Jean St. Mouchoir]
    • 1998 - Hasards ou Coincidences
    • 1999 - Goosed [Character: Dr. Bowman]
                                                             In addition to appearing in the above movies, Holder's unique voice was used in the following films: "Where Confucius Meets the New Wave (1987); "Tropical Rainforest" (1992); and "Bear in the Big Blue House" (1997). Holder also was an ardent photograher and wrote a cook book. He was the younger brother of dancer Boscoe Holder, and married dancer Carmen de Lavallade whom he met on the set of "House of Flowers." His paintings were exhibited in the Barbados Museum and in the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, USA.
    • 1972 - Trinidad & Tobago Humming Bird Medal Gold (for Dance)
    • 1975 - Tony Awards for Best Director, "The Wiz," and Best Costumes, "The Wiz"
    DIED: October 5, 2014, in St Luke's Hospital, Manhattan, New York, USA, from pneumonia
    Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit