Geoffrey Holder, Bond Villain and ‘Annie’ Actor, Dead at 84
Geoffrey Holder, the West Indian actor known by many as the infamous James Bond villain Baron Samedi in ‘Live and Let Die’ and the lovable butler Punjab in the original ‘Annie‘ film, has passed away at the age of 84.
A spokesman for the Holder family, Charles M. Mirotznik, said Geoffrey passed in his Manhattan home on Sunday due to complications with pneumonia. This tragic news comes within a month of fellow James Bond vet Richard Kiel passing away and a couple months before the remake of ‘Annie’ hits theaters, prompting many fans to re-watch the original and see Holder in one of his most notable roles. He is survived by his wife, Carmen de Lavallade, and his son, Léo.
While Holder was primarily recognized for his acting, he was also a dancer, choreographer, composer, designer and painter who sought to bring his West Indian culture into the American art scene. One of his favored roles was Baron Samedi, the voodoo spirit of death, sex and resurrection, and the guardian of the cemetery. He first played this character for his Broadway debut as a featured dancer in ‘House of Flowers’ in 1954 before bringing the character into the Bond world and another one of his stage projects, 1982’s ‘Banda.’
Other noteworthy roles, all of them pegged as “exotic” by Hollywood, were ‘Doctor Dolittle,’ ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask,’ ‘Annie’ and ‘Boomerang.’ In 2005, he also narrated the ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ remake starring Johnny Depp.
As he told Dance Magazine in 2010 (as found via The New York Times), “I create for that innocent little boy in the balcony who has come to the theater for the first time. He wants to see magic, so I want to give him magic. He sees things that his father couldn’t see.”