James Bond and Alien actor Yaphet Kotto has died
Manila, Philippines - Yaphet Kotto, whose decades-long acting career included a memorable turn as a James Bond villain and prominent roles alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert De Niro, has died. He was 81.
The Alien actor’s death was announced Monday by his wife, who remembered him as a "legend."
"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 Thessa wrote on Facebook. "A good man, a good father, a good husband and a decent human being, very rare to find."
A cause of death has not been revealed for Kotto, who was born in New York City.
Kotto began as a Broadway actor before emerging in both films and TV series during the 1960s.
He appeared in two of the biggest franchises in the movie industry during the following decade, first by starring as Dr. Kanaga/Mr. Big, a deceptive Caribbean leader and drug boss, in the 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die. The film, which marked Roger Moore’s debut as 007, is the eighth in the spy series.
Kotto then took on the role of Parker the engineer in 1979′s Alien, the first installment to the classic sci-fi franchise.
Other notable gigs for Kotto included the 1987 action flick The Running Man with Schwarzenegger, the 1988 comedy Midnight Run starring De Niro, and the role of Lt. Al Giardello on the drama series Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993 to 1999.
He would reprise the role of Giardello in a TV movie in 2000.
"RIP Yaphet Kotto, a brilliant magnetic presence, bringing gravitas & naturalism to deep space or underground Bond lair," filmmaker Edgar Wright wrote in a Twitter tribute.
"So memorable as Parker in Alien, Kananga (Mr Big) in Live & Let Die, Smokey James in Blue Collar or in the simmering funny rage of Midnight Run’s Alonzo Mosely."
Ava Duverney also paid homage to Kotto, referring to the actor as her mother’s "favorite."
"He’s one of those actors who deserved more than the parts he got," the director tweeted. "But he took those parts and made them wonderful all the same. A star. Rest well, sir."
Cover photo: IMAGO / United Archives