Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Broadway to Dim Lights for Geoffrey Holder on October 10, 2014

Geoffrey Holder. Photo courtesy of Richard Cameron's Facebook Page.

Geoffrey Holder. Photo courtesy of Richard Cameron’s Facebook Page.

The Broadway community mourns the loss of Geoffrey Holder, the 1975 Tony Award-winning director and costume designer of The Wiz who died on Sunday at the age of 84. The marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in his memory Friday, October 10th, at exactly 7:45pm for one minute.

Geoffrey Holder was a multi-talented stage and film artist who directed and designed the original Broadway production of The Wiz for which he won two 1975 Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Musical and Best Costume Design. In 1978, Mr. Holder directed and choreographed the Broadway musical Timbuktu!, receiving a 1978 Tony Award nomination for Best Costume Design.

“No one who saw The Wiz will ever forget the memorable experience, in large part thanks to the direction and design brought to the Broadway stage by Geoffrey Holder,” said Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The Broadway League. “An incredibly talented artist seen in many mediums, his visual creativity and influence was unforgettable.”

Mr. Holder made his Broadway stage debut in House of Flowers, the 1954 musical by Harold Arlen and Truman Capote. 1957, he played Lucky in an all-black production of Waiting for Godot. In 1964 he supported Josephine Baker in a Broadway revue built around the legendary performer.

In the 1950’s, Holder was a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York. As a choreographer, Holder has created dance pieces for many companies, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Movie career highlights include: All Night Long, Doctor Dolittle, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, Boomerang, Live and Let Die. In the 1982 film version of the musical Annie, Holder played the role of Punjab. He was also the voice of Ray in Bear in the Big Blue House and provided narration for Tim Burton’s version of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Holder was a spokesman for the 1970’s 7Up soft drink “uncola” advertising campaign. He reprised his role as the 7Up spokesman in the 2011 season finale of “The Celebrity Apprentice”.

Holder was a prolific painter, art collector, book author and music composer. As a painter, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship in fine arts in 1956. In 1955, Holder married dancer Carmen de Lavallade, whom he met when both were in the cast of the musical House of Flowers. They had one son, Leo Anthony Lamont. Holder’s brother was artist Boscoe Holder.

He is survived by his wife, Carmen de Lavallade, and their son, Léo.

Click below to read my tribute article, and Holder’s son Léo’s intimate account of his last days.
Geoffrey Holder, Artist, Actor, Dancer, Choreographer, Two-Time Tony Award-winning Director and Costume Designer for The Wiz, Dies at 84; Son Pens Intimate Account of Last Days

Other articles by Lia Chang:
THE WIZ Turns 40- Photos from Original Broadway Production and BC/EFA Gypsy of The Year Celebration Featuring André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ken Page, Charl Brown, Carly Hughes, Christina Sajous, Alton Fitzgerald White, Lillias White and More
Oct. 10: Sir Geoffrey Holder Dimming of Broadway Lights Observation at the Majestic Theatre by Black Stars of The Great White Way at 7:30P.M.
Photos & Video: The Wiz’s André De Shields Sang “So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard” in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream at Carnegie Hall 
Photos and Video: Ben Vereen Performs at Carnegie Hall in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream 
Photos and Video: Obba Babatunde and cast members from the original cast of Dreamgirls perform at Carnegie Hall in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream
Two-Time Tony Award-winning Actress Marian Seldes, Dies at 86
Oct. 15: An Evening with Hollywood Legend Nancy Kwan at the New-York Historical Society
Cori Thomas’s When January Feels Like Summer with Debargo Sanyal, Dion Graham, Mahira Kakkar, Maurice Williams, Carter Redwood, Returns to Ensemble Studio Theatre through October 26, 2014
Reg E. Cathey, Ching Valdes-Aran, Joseph Harrington, Tony Torn and More in La MaMa’s The Tempest through November 2, 2014
James Yaegashi, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Ernest Abuba, Tsering Dorjee, Takemi Kitamura, James Saito, Jon Norman Schneider set for Sarah Ruhl’s The Oldest Boy in the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at LCT; Previews Begin October 9, 2014
Oct. 10: Baayork Lee to Receive 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation
Oct. 8 – Nov. 2: Myra Lucretia Taylor, JoJo Gonzalez, Linda Powell, Don Sparks and More set for Long Wharf Theatre’s 50th Season Opening Production of OUR TOWN
The Fortress of Solitude starring André de Shields, Adam Chanler-Berat, Kevin Mambo, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Kyle Beltran & More Begins Performances at The Public
Photos: Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion on View through April 19, 2015 at New York Historical Society
Coming to America through The Angel Island Immigration Station
Museum of the Moving Image Presents A Tribute to Ruby Dee
Yuri Kochiyama Memorial Service at First Corinthian Baptist Church in New York
Rome Neal Seriously Injured in Fall; Fundraisers Set at The Five Spot on October 12 and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on November 6
David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage Appointed to the Playwriting Faculty of Columbia University School of the Arts Theatre Program
Joe Mantegna to Helm ‘Criminal Minds’ Season 10 Episode to Honor the late Meshach Taylor
Photos: Maxine Hong Kingston, Billie Tsien, Bill T. Jones, Linda Ronstadt, John Kander, Julia Alvarez, Jeffrey Katzenberg Receive 2013 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama 
Golden Globe Winner James Shigeta, Veteran of Film and TV, Dies at 85; Excerpts of 2007 A/P/A Institute Q & A with Sukhdev Sandhu 
Photos: Artist Arlan Huang, One Brush Stroke at a Time
Late Night Singing with Garth Kravits at 54 Below with The Skivvies, at Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Birdland and Michael Raye’s Soul Gathering 
Joe Mantegna, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, President Bill Clinton and More Remember Meshach Taylor
Photos: Meshach Taylor Celebrates 67th Birthday with Arlene and Joe Mantegna, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, Jean Smart, Dennis Franz, Ernie Hudson, John Heard, Keith Szarabajka, Stuart Gordon, Shadoe Stevens and More
Crafting a Career
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2014 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

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