Yaphet Kotto, best known for his roles in "Live and Let Die" and "Alien," has died at age 81. The actor's wife, Tessie Sinahon, confirmed Kotto had died Monday in a Facebook post.
"I'm saddened and still in shocked of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years," she wrote.
Born Nov. 15, 1939, in New York, Kotto was raised by his grandparents in the Bronx, according to IMDB. He first began acting in 1958 with a theatrical debut in the title role of "Othello." Several years later, he appeared in the Broadway production "The Great White Hope" as James Earl Jones' understudy.
Kotto went on to appear in various films before landing his breakout role as the evil Kananga, also known as Mr. Big, in the 1973 James Bond thriller "Live and Let Die." Three years later, he was cast as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "Raid on Entebbe," followed by Nostromo engineer Parker in 1979's "Alien."
Kotto's performance led to him being shortlisted for the role of Jean Luc Picard in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987), as well as Lando Calrissian in Star Wars' "The Empire Strikes Back" but he turned them both down in fear of being typecast.
"I wanted to get back down on Earth," he 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."
In another memorable role, Kotto famously played Alphonse "Gee" Giardello in the NBC drama "Homicide: Life on the Street," which aired from 1993 to 2000. He also delivered sterling performances alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987's "The Running Man," and next to Robert De Niro in the 1988 comedy "Midnight Run."
Other notable titles include "The Thomas Crown Affair," "Blue Collar," "Eye of the Tiger" and "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare," The Hollywood Reporter noted.
"One of the best actor in Hollywood a Legend," wrote Sinahon. "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."
Zoe Papadakis ✉
Zoe Papadakis is a Newsmax writer based in South Africa with two decades of experience specializing in media and entertainment. She has been in the news industry as a reporter, writer and editor for newspapers, magazine and websites.
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