LOS ANGELES – Yaphet Kotto, an actor best known for appearing on “Alien,” the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die,” and the television series “Homicide: Life on the Street,” has died, his agent confirmed Ryan Goldhar to Variety. He was 81 years old.
Kotto’s wife Tessie Sinahon, posted first about Kotto’s death on Facebook Monday evening.
“I am sad and still shocked about the death of my 24-year-old husband Yaphet. He died last night around 10:30 pm Philippine time,” she wrote. “… You played a villain in some of your films, but for me you are a real hero and for many people too. A good man, a good father, a good husband and a decent person, very seldom find. One of the best actor in hollywood a legend. rest in peace darling, i will miss you every day my best friend my skirt. “
In “Live and Let Die” from 1973, Kotto played the corrupt Caribbean dictator Dr. Kananga as well as his drug-pushing alter ego Mr. Big. Described in the novel as the immensely obese kingpin with yellow eyes, gray skin, and a head twice the size of a normal man, Kotto’s preppy version of the character dispensed with the physical grotesques and added a charismatic dose of stylish villainy.
Kotto also played technician Dennis Parker in “Alien” from 1979 and William Laughlin alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the action film “The Running Man” from 1987. He also had a strong career on television and played Al Giardello on NBC from 1993 to 1999 “Homicide: Life on the Street” series.
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Born in New York City on November 15, 1939, Kotto began studying acting at the Actors Mobile Theater Studio at the age of 16. He made his professional theater debut in “Othello” at the age of 19 and continued to appear on Broadway in “The Great White Hope”. Kotto’s first film projects included “Nothing But a Man” in 1964 and “The Thomas Crown Affair” in 1968. In 1969, Kotto guest-starred as Marine Lance Corporal on “Hawaii Five-O”.
After landing the role in “Live and Let Die”, Kotto also grabbed the roles in “Truck Turner” from 1974 and “Blue Collar” from 1978 as Smokey. After his leading role in “Alien”, Kotto played a supporting role as Richard “Dickie” Coombes in “Brubaker” in 1980 and played alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the action film “The Running Man” in 1987. 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 in Homicide: Life on the Street, for which he also has several script credits. He also starred in Homicide: The Movie in 2000 and was most recently voiced by Parker in the video game Alien: Isolation.
He is survived by his wife and six children.