One of Trinidad and Tobago’s most beloved cultural icons has died.
Holly Betaudier, a television pioneer who hosted one of the longest running local talent shows in the country’s history, passed away peacefully at his home in Westmoorings at 11.20 p.m. on Sunday night. He turned 91 on January 27.
His show, Scouting for Talent, helped to launch the careers of many entertainers and became a platform for local culture.
Among the numerous entertainers the show produced were calypsonians Chalkdust, Singing Francine, Denyse Plummer, Poser, Sugar Aloes, Protector, Crusoe Kid, comedian and MC Tommy Joseph, Patsy John, Francis Prime, the United Sisters and soul and gospel recording artiste, Carol Addison.
Betaudier was also an influential advocate for keeping traditional parang alive with his Holly B Parang Bandwagon, a show that he originally launched during his stint at Radio Trinidad, “Parang with Holly”.
Trinidad & Tobago’s Public Administration and Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie said he “had the pleasure of serving with (Betaudier) on the executive of the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) and can attest to his dedication to professionalism and his love of Trinidad and Tobago which he dedicated his life to improving.
“He will truly be missed.”
Cuffie said Betaudier’s career was “marked by his love for media and his love for culture and all things Trinidad and Tobago.”
“Blessed with eloquence and a gift for electronic media, he used his gifts to develop an unprecedented body of work around the promotion of local culture, particularly parang, which he loved.
“His love and dedication to his craft was evident to the very end. He was well loved and will be sadly missed by his listening audiences, the Arima community, his family and the country as a whole.”
Trinidad & Tobago’s opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar also expressed her sorrow at the passing of the veteran media personality.
“Holly B, as he was affectionately called by all, was a national icon,” she said.
In listing Betaudier’s many accomplishments since entering the media in August 1946, Persad-Bissessar added: “Holly’s cultural work was delivered with sincerity and a passion to use media to build bridges in our multicultural nation. We all owe a debt of gratitude to this humble man whose love of our culture made us richer.”
The Media Association Trinidad and Tobago also extended “heartfelt condolences to the family of Holly Betaudier and to the artistic community of Trinidad and Tobago on his passing …
“Mr. Betaudier, a quintessential television and radio broadcaster, producer and impresario, contributed in unquantifiable measure to the most positive aspects of our culture.
“We offer special condolences to the parang musicians with whom he worked passionately and tirelessly and also to former TTT staff who will feel his loss in a deeply personal way.”
Betaudier leaves to mourn his wife of some 43 years, Valerie, sons Anthony and Holly Jr., daughters Barbara and Jennifer, as well as several grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Betaudier had been ailing for some time. Although he left the public’s eye last year, his voice was still heard Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on I95.5FM radio doing a short feature called Toute Bagai (which loosely means ‘everything’).
Betaudier’s career in media began in August 1946 at the American Naval base in Chaguaramas, working for the U.S. Armed Forces radio service network WVDI as an announcer.
Later at Radio Trinidad he was the host of “Holly’s Happy Moments”, a popular radio show that featured the best of local talent.
Then in 1962, when Trinidad and Tobago gained its independence, Betaudier was among the pioneers at the newly launched Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) station, where he started as an advertising salesman.
Ann Winston, a former Radio Trinidad staffer and Program Controller at TTT and friend of Betaudier’s for close to 60 years, said he was a gentlemen.
“He stood out as somebody who had a big heart and a special feeling for the underdogs. I enjoyed many enjoyable moments with him, whether it was at staff parties or parang sessions. He also sought to make people’s talent not go unnoticed. I will miss him.”
Zola Holder, who was a bridesmaid at his wedding said: “He was everybody’s friend. He was warm hearted, generous and a happy person.”