Bond villain and ‘Alien’ star Yaphet Kotto dies at 81
Yaphet Kotto, a James Bond villain but a real “hero”, has passed away. He was 81 years old.
Salutes and tributes on social media are paid to the late “Live and Let Die” star, whose death was first announced by his wife, Tessie Sinahon, on Monday evening.
“I am saddened and still shocked by the passing of my husband Yaphet for 24 years. He passed away at around 10:30 p.m. PT last night, ”Sinahon shared on Facebook, captioning a photo of the Emmy-nominated actor smiling.
“… You played a villain in some of your films but for me you are a real hero and for a lot of people too. A good man, a good father, a good husband and a decent human being, very rare to find. One of Hollywood’s best actors, a legend. Rest in peace darling, I will miss you every day, my best friend, my rock.
So far, no further details on the cause of his death have been released.
Fans of the beloved Hollywood heavyweight, including director Ava DuVernay, are rush to twitter with their condolences and best memories.
A native of Harlem, Kotto was born on November 15, 1939, descendant of Cameroonian royalty on his father’s side. But her childhood was anything but luxurious. He was raised by his maternal grandparents in the Bronx after his parents separated and his mother joined the military.
Kotto’s first film role in “Nothing But a Man”, in 1964 at age 23, would be the catalyst for an illustrious career with credits in Hollywood blockbusters like “Alien” by Ridley Scott, “Blue Collar” by Paul Schrader with Richard Pryor and “The Running Man” opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Making history as the first black antagonist in the Bond franchise, Kotto posed a double threat to the late Sir Roger Moore as 007 in 1973’s “Live and Let Die”. In the movie classic, Kotto assumed the swagger. villainous of the corrupt Caribbean dictator, Dr. Kananga, as well as his alter ego, Mr. Big, who pushes drugs.
But it was his fascinating work as Lt. Al “G” Giardello on NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street” that catapulted the 6-foot-3 acting powerhouse to household name status.
Despite the popularity of the fast-paced crime drama, Kotto admittedly began to despise the series, which ran from 1993 to 1999. After the show was canceled, due to still low ratings, Kotto blamed the writers to stunt his growth as a performer.
“I am proud to be a part of ‘Homicide.’ But not this character. I was just a voice box for the writers, ”Kotto lamented in an interview with Feed Magazine in 1999, noting that all of his best acting scenes were never shown.
“They’re all on the cutting room floor,” he growled.
“Every moment I’ve worked for, which I thought was my best acting, is on the floor. It really touched me. I broke down one night and just screamed like a baby after seeing the show. I had worked for a single moment and it was gone.
Despite his eventual disdain for the TV project, Kotto continued to star in “Homicide: The Movie” in 2000. He recently reprized his role as techie Dennis Parker by lending his voice to the video game “Alien: Isolation”.
Kotto got married three times. He and his last wife, Tessie Sinahon, got married in 1998.
The couple lived together in the Philippines, where they died this week.
He is survived by his wife and six children.