Yaphet Kotto, an actor popularly known for his roles in “Alien,” the James Bond film “Live and Let Die” and the television series “Homicide: Life on the Street,” has died, his agent Ryan Goldhar confirmed to Variety. He was 81.
Kotto’s wife, Tessie Sinahon, first posted about Kotto’s death on Facebook Monday night.
“I’m saddened and still shocked at the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years. He died last night around 10:30 pm Philippine time. You played a villain in some of your movies but for me, you’re a real hero and to a lot of people also. A good man, a good father, a good husband and a decent human being, very rare to find. One of the best actor in Hollywood, a legend. Rest in Peace Honey, I’m going to miss you every day, my best friend, my rock,” she wrote.
In 1973’s “Live and Let Die,” Kotto pulled double-duty portraying the corrupt Caribbean dictator, Dr Kananga as well as his drug-pushing alter ego Mr Big.
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Described in the novel as a monstrously obese kingpin with yellow eyes, gray-skin and a head twice the size of a normal man, Kotto’s dapper version of the character dispensed with the physical grotesqueries and added a charismatic dose of stylish villainy.
Kotto also famously played technician Dennis Parker in 1979’s “Alien” and William Laughlin in the 1987 action film “The Running Man”. He played both roles alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He had a strong career in television as well, playing Al Giardello in the NBC series “Homicide: Life on the Street” from 1993 to 1999.
Kotto was born in New York City on November 15, 1939, and began studying acting at the age of 16 at the Actors Mobile Theater Studio.
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By 19, he made his professional theatre debut in “Othello,” and continued to perform on Broadway in “The Great White Hope.”
Kotto’s first few film projects included “Nothing But a Man” in 1964 and “The Thomas Crown Affair” in 1968. In 1969, Kotto held a guest-starring role as Marine Lance Corporal on “Hawaii Five-O.”
After landing the role in “Live and Let Die,” Kotto also bagged roles in 1974’s “Truck Turner” and 1978’s “Blue Collar” as Smokey. Following his starring turn in “Alien,” Kotto went on to hold a supporting role as Richard “Dickie” Coombes in “Brubaker” in 1980 and starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 action film “The Running Man.”
Kotto’s other TV roles include an appearance on “The A-Team” in 1983, “For Love and Honor,” “Murder She Wrote,” “Death Valley Days” and “Law & Order.”
One of Kotto’s last and longest roles was that of Al Giardello on “Homicide: Life on the Street,” for which he also holds several scriptwriting credits. He also starred in “Homicide: The Movie” in 2000 and most recently voiced Parker in the “Alien: Isolation” video game.
He is survived by his wife and six children.