There are versatile artists, and then there is Geoffrey Holder. Born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad in 1930, Mr. Holder danced with his brother Boscoe’s dance troupe as a child. He arrived in New York in 1952 at the invitation of the legendary choreographer, Agnes de Mille and, to pay his fare, he sold 20 of his paintings. He would go on to win a Guggenheim Fellowship for painting in 1957. A few years before, he was a principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and appeared on Broadway in Truman Capote’s “House of Flowers,” where he would meet his wife of 57 years, the dancer Carmen de Lavallade.
In 1975, Mr. Holder won 2 Tony Awards in the same evening for directing and choreographing the Broadway musical, “The Wiz.” He is best known to most for his film and commercial roles: as Baron Samedi in the 1973 James Bond film, “Live and Let Die” and of course, as the “Un-cola Man” in the ubiquitous 1970s 7-Up commercials. Mr. Holder is still painting and creating art today and, the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago currently has an exhibition featuring Mr. Holder and Ms. de Lavallade. In this picture, Mr. Holder is sitting in front of one of his painting, sometime in the 1960s. Photo: Bradley Smith/Corbis.