Geoffrey Holder, a multi-talented dancer, artist, director, actor, and composer best known for his role as a Bond villain, died in New York yesterday of complications from pneumonia, the New York Times reports. He was 84. An unmistakable presence, Holder stood 6'6" and possessed a booming voice with a Caribbean lilt that seduced American audiences in the 1970s. Holder admitted that his greatest claim to fame was on TV ads for 7Up (it's "absolutely maaarvelous," he'd say), but his role as Baron Samedi in the James Bond film Live and Let Die (1973) remains widely known. He also played Willie Shakespeare in the first Doctor Dolittle (1967) and the "mystical Punjab" in Annie (1982), People reports.
Growing up in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Holder learned dancing and painting from his brother, then brought a dance company to New York in 1954 and fell for the city. "It was a period when all the girls looked like Janet Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor," he said. His diverse career included dancing in the Harold Arlen-Truman Capote musical House of Flowers (where he first played Baron Samedi), painting mysterious women, publishing books on folklore and cooking, acting in an all-black revival of Waiting for Godot on Broadway, and winning Tony Awards in 1975 for costume design and direction of a musical for The Wiz. "All I see is art; it just comes out of me," he said, the LA Times reports. "And I've always believed that if you love what you're doing you're not working." Married in 1955, he is survived by his wife and son.