Yaphet Kotto, the veteran actor whose many roles include the sci-fi epic Alien, the James Bond movie Live and Let Die, has sadly passed away. The news comes from Kotto’s wife, Tessie Sinahon, with a post on Facebook revealing that the actor died on Monday evening at around 10:30 p.m., though a cause of death hasn’t yet been revealed. He was 81 years old.
“I’m saddened and still in shocked of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years,” the Facebook post reads. “This is a very painful moment for me to inform you all fans, friends and family of my husband. We still have a lot of plans honey that we discussed you have a lot of interviews waiting and you have movie offers like G.I. Joe and the movie of Tom Cruise and others. You still have plan to release your book and build a religious organization based on Yogananda’s Teachings. You played a villain on some of your movies but for me you’re a real hero and to a lot of people also.”
Sinahon adds: “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. I love you and you will always be in my heart. Till we meet again!”
Yaphet was born Fredrick S. Kotto on Nov. 15, 1939, in New York City. He made his pro acting debut as a teenager with a stage production of Othello, moving on to Broadway and appearing in other shows like The Great White Hope. Taking to acting, he had made his movie debut by age 23 with a role in 4 for Texas, launching a movie career that would span for decades.
One of Kotto’s most memorable roles was as the villain Mr. Big opposite Roger Moore in the classic James Bond movie Live and Let Die. He is also very loved by horror fans for his shining role in the original Alien, where he played Dennis Parker, along with his role as Doc in the horror movie sequel Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. He has also appeared in many other movies like The Running Man, Midnight Run, and Eye of the Tiger, with his final movie role coming in the 2008 comedy Witless Protection.
We also came close to seeing Kotto as Captin Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation, a role that famously went to Patrick Stewart. In 2015, Kotto expressed his regret in turning down the role, noting that “when you’re making movies, you’d tend to say no to TV.” The actor also was offered the part of Lando Calrissian in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, but similarly passed on the part as he had already appeared in Alien. Billy Dee Williams was then given the part.
“I wanted to get back down on Earth,” Kotto said in a 2003 interview. “I was afraid that if I did another space film after having done Alien, then I’d be typed. Once you get one of those big blockbuster hits, you better have some other big blockbuster hits to go with it too and be Harrison Ford, because if you don’t … you place yourself right out of the business.”
Meanwhile, Kotto was also known for playing Lt. Al Giardello on the crime drama series Homicide: Life on the Street, a performance that earned him a nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Drama at the NAACP Image Awards. His other small screen credits include The A-Team, Murder, She Wrote, and Roots. Kotto’s career culminated with the actor reprising the role of Parker for the hit video game Alien: Isolation in 2014.
Kotto had been married twice before his third and final marriage to Sinahon, and he had six children from his first two marriages. At this time, our thoughts go out to Sinahon and Kotto’s family in the wake of this terrible news. May he rest in peace as his legacy lives on forever. This news comes to us from Tessie Sinahon on Facebook.