According to reports, agent Ryan Goldhar has confirmed renowned actor Yaphet Kotto has died aged 81. The actor was famous for his roles in such movies as Alien, Live And Let Die, and the television series, Homicide: Life on the Street.
The news first broke on the Facebook page of Kotto’s wife, Tessie Sinahon, on Monday night. She posted, “I’m saddened and still in shocked of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years. He died last night around 10:30pm Philippine time. …You played a villain on 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 actors in Hollywood, a Legend. Rest in Peace Honey, I’m gonna miss you every day, my best friend, my rock.”
Kotto played corrupt Caribbean dictator Dr. Kananga, as well as his drug pushing alter ego Mr. Big, in 1973’s Live and Let Die. In the novel, the character is described as a monstrously obese kingpin with yellow eyes, grey skin, and a head twice the size of a normal man. Although Kotto’s version of the character did not have the physical grotesquery, he added a charismatic dose of stylish villainy.
Kotto also famously portrayed technician, Dennis Parker in 1979’s Alien, and also played alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger as William Laughlin in the 1987 action film The Running Man. He also had a recognised career in television, portraying Al Giardello in the NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street.
Born in New York City on November 15th, 1939, Kotto began his career by studying acting at the age of 16, at the Actors Mobile Theatre Studio. By the time he was 19, he made his professional theatre debut in Othello, and continued on to perform on Broadway in The Great White Hope.
Following his role in Live and Let Die, Kotto took up roles in 1974’s Truck Turner and 1978’s Blue Collar as Smokey. After his starring role in Alien, the actor went on to hold a supporting role as Richard “Dickie” Coombes in Brubaker in 1980. He also starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 action film The Running Man.
Kotto’s other TV roles include an appearance on The A-Team, For Love and Honor, Murder She Wrote, Death Valley Days and Law & Order. The actor holds several scriptwriting credits for Homicide: Life on the Street, in which he portrays Al Giardello, in his last and longest role.