*Yaphet Kotto, an actor best known for his performances 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, made the announcement Monday night on Facebook, stating: “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 everyday, my bestfriend, my rock.”
Kotto played dual roles In 1973’s “Live and Let Die,” the corrupt Caribbean dictator Dr. Kananga as well as his drug pushing alter ego Mr. Big.
He also famously played technician Dennis Parker in 1979’s “Alien” and William Laughlin alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 action film “The Running Man.”
Kotto had a strong career in television as well, playing Al Giardello in the NBC series “Homicide: Life on the Street” from 1993 to 1999. It’s one of his last and longest roles, 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.
Kotto was born Nov. 15, 1939 in New York City, and began studying acting at the age of 16 at the Actors Mobile Theater Studio. By 19, he made his professional theater debut in “Othello,” and went on to nab a role in 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, he guest-starred as Marine Lance Corporal on “Hawaii Five-O.”
After landing the role in “Live and Let Die,” Kotto appeared in 1974’s “Truck Turner” and 1978’s “Blue Collar” as Smokey. 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.”
Kotto is survived by his wife and six children.
Below, the screen legend recalls the moment he realized that his film “Alien” had opened doors he never could’ve imagined.