Geoffrey Holder on Being Black in the Met Opera Ballet

Trinidad born dancer and actor, Geoffrey Holder describes how he responds when he is told a woman attending the Met Opera said: “I don’t know what that n#$#ger id doing on the stage.

Holder was a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York from 1955-56.[6] He made his Broadway debut in House of Flower a musical by Harold Arlen (music and lyrics) and Truman Capote lyrics and book).]He also starred in an all-black production of Waiting for Godot in 1957.

Holder began his movie career in the 1962 British film All Night Long, a modern remake of Othello. He followed that with Doctor DoLittle (1967) as Willie Shakespeare, leader of the natives of Sea-Star Island. This was a trying experience for Holder, as he had to contend with casual racism from Rex Harrison’s then-wife, Rachel Roberts and his entourage.

In 1975 Holder won two Tony Awards for direction and costume design of The Wiz the all-black musical. Holder was the first black man to be nominated in either category. 

He was also very well known for being the pitchman for 7-Ups “Uncola” campaign.


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Submitted by: Paul Hardart
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