Actor Yaphet Kotto appears on his wedding day in Baltimore, Md., July 12, 1998. Kotto, the commanding actor of the James Bond film Live and Let Die and as Lt. Al Giardello in the NBC police drama Homicide: Life on the 90s the Street, died Monday at the age of 81. John Gillis / AP hide subtitles
John Gillis / AP
John Gillis / AP
Yaphet Kotto, the charismatic actor who faced James Bond, a deadly alien and devious criminal in his long career, has died at the age of 81.
Kotto’s death was announced in a Facebook post by his wife, Tessie Sinahon. She is sad and shocked after losing her 24-year-old husband. Kotto died in the Philippines, she added.
“You played a villain in some of your films, but you are a real hero to me and a lot of people too.” Sinahon saidand called Kotto her best friend. “A good man, a good father, a good husband and a decent person, very rare to find.”
With his sturdy build and imposing gaze, Kotto has often been asked to include bad guys like Dr. Smoldering and intimidating Kananga, aka Mr. Big. But his ability to rattle the rapid-fire dialogue with Shakespeare’s fluency, even when it evoked an infectious grin, brought an intelligence and depth to his roles that the material Kotto worked with was sometimes lacking.
“You were so memorable in every role you played. Your presence and talent were undeniable and compelling,” said Viola Davis said in a tweet addressed to Kotto.
“He’s one of those actors who deserved more than the roles he got,” said director Ava DuVernay said. “But he took these parts and still made them wonderful.”
Yaphet Kotto. My mom’s favorite. He’s one of those actors who deserved more than the roles he got. But he took these parts and still made them wonderful. A star. Have a good rest, sir. pic.twitter.com/BqeuVc7DSB
– Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 16, 2021
In 1972, Kotto played alongside Anthony Quinn on Across 110th Street, a young black cop who works with an older and prejudiced partner. The film has established itself as a classic from the blaxploitation era. it also helped maintain Kotto’s reputation as a movie star.
In 1978, Kotto appeared alongside Richard Pryor in Blue Collar, portraying the world famous Smokey James in a story about a struggle between auto workers, their union and the company they work for.
Kotto appeared in Ridley Scott’s Alien a year later, playing chief engineer Dennis Parker. Years later, Kotto said he was glad his character died in the film because it stopped him from doing sequels.
Yaphet Kotto was born in New York City to a father who traced his roots back to Cameroon royalty and a mother who, according to his biography, was a nurse and army officer the IMDB website. He was raised in the Bronx by his grandparents.
It may come as a surprise that Kotto, an actor known for his burly intensity, referred to Barbara Stanwyck as his “guru” after the two worked together on the 1960s television series The Big Valley. Stanwyck, who played a no-nonsense speaking mother (in the traditional sense) on the show, was one of several women Kotto said helped boost his career.
“I did Big Valley with her and she took over my life. Brother, she followed me with every move I made.” Kotto told an interviewer in 2003. “And I had Mary Astor calling me from the retirement home and ragging my a ** all the time.”
In addition to these two stars, Kotto said actress Judy Holliday produced a production of Othello in which Kotto appeared when he was only 19.
Astor constantly criticized his work, said Kotto. And it was Stanwyck who advised him not to get a publicist.
“The work will speak for itself,” she told him.
Kotto has said he turned down the role of Lando Calrissian on The Empire Strikes Back – director Irvin Kershner asked Kotto to take on the role after they teamed up for Raid on Entebbe. But Kotto refused because he later said “I wanted to go back to earth. I was afraid if I did another space film after that [Alien] then I would be typed. “
Instead, Kotto looked for a performance film: instead of joining the Star Wars franchise, he worked with Robert Redford on the prison drama Brubaker for months.
Kotto showed more of his reach in Midnight Run in 1988, using his comedic skills to play Alonzo Mosely, the haunted FBI agent who tries to corral Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin.
And in the 1990s, Kotto made a name for himself with his portrayal of Lt. Al Giardello popular with a new generation of fans on the hit police show Homicide: Life on the Street in Baltimore.