Yaphet Kotto's extensive filmography includes turns as the villain in Live and Let Die and as Lieutenant Al Giardello in Homicide: Life on the Street

By Jen Juneau
March 16, 2021 12:36 PM
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Yaphet Kotto
Yaphet Kotto
| Credit: Bobby Bank/WireImage

Yaphet Kotto — the prolific actor who starred in films such as Live and Let Die and Alien, as well as numerous television series include Homicide: Life on the Street — has died. He was 81.

Kotto's wife Tessie Sinahon revealed the sad news on his official Facebook page Monday, sharing a throwback photo of him and writing, "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. This is a very painfall [sic] moment for me to inform you all fans, friends and family of my husband," she shared.

"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," Sinahon continued. "You still have plan to release your book and build a religious organization based on Yogananda's Teachings."

Kotto kicked off his film career in the early 1960s, starting as an extra in the Frank Sinatra- and Dean Martin-led comedy-Western 4 for Texas.

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Yaphet Kotto in Live and Let Die
Yaphet Kotto (L) in Live and Let Die
| Credit: Danjaq/Eon/Ua/Kobal/Shutterstock
Alien, Sigourney Weaver, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto
Yaphet Kotto (R) in Alien
| Credit: Moviestore/Shutterstock

He would go on to star in movies like The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and 1972's The Limit — the latter of which he also directed — before landing the role of villain Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big in Live and Let Die, alongside Roger Moore's James Bond and Bond girl Jane Seymour.

"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 added in her tribute to Kotto.

Other projects the late actor was well-known for include Alien (1979), The Running Man (1987) and Midnight Run (1988), as well as a starring role as Lieutenant Al Giardello on Homicide: Life on the Street. Kotto played the latter role for the entirety of the series' seven-season run, beginning in 1993, as well as in 2000's Homicide: The Movie.

While his final onscreen role was in the 2008 film Witless Protection, Kotto later lent his voice talents to reprise his Alien character, technician Dennis Parker, in the 2014 video game Alien: Isolation.

Homicide - Life On The Street
Yaphet Kotto (far right) in Homicide: Life on the Street
| Credit: Chris Haston/Nbc Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock

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Many in the film and television industry flocked to social media to express their condolences over Kotto's death, including Ava DuVernay, who shared a collection of photos of the late actor and wrote, "Yaphet Kotto. My Mom's favorite. He's one of those actors who deserved more than the parts he got."

"But he took those parts and made them wonderful all the same. A star. Rest well, sir," added DuVernay, 48.

In her Facebook post, Sinahon referred to Kotto, a father of six, as "a good man, a good father, a good husband and a decent human being, very rare to find."

She concluded, "One of the best actor in Hollywood a Legend. Rest in Peace Honey, I'm gonna miss you everyday, my best friend, my rock. love you and you will always be in my heart. Till we meet again!"