Yaphet Kotto, the American actor who brought roles to life in iconic films like Alien and Live and Let Die, died at the age of 81 on Monday, March 15. The Hollywood Reporter shared the news after Kotto’s wife, Tessie Sinahon, announced his death in a Facebook post, writing, “I’m saddened and still in shocked of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years. He died last night around 10:30 p.m. Philippine time,” and “Rest in peace honey, I’m gonna miss you every day, my best friend, my rock. I love you and you will always be in my heart. Till we meet again!”
Kotto was born in New York City to a Cameroonian immigrant father and Panamanian American mother in 1939, and by age 19, he was professionally acting onstage, debuting in a production of Othello. Kotto’s first Broadway performance was filling in for James Earl Jones in the original run of The Great White Hope in 1969. From there, Kotto went on to write, direct, and star in the 1972 cop drama The Limit. Kotto is best known for his major film roles, including playing the villain Mr. Big in the 1973 Bond film Live and Let Die and crew member Parker in Alien. Kotto also lent his commanding presence to films like Blue Collar, Midnight Run, and The Running Man, and co-starred as Lieutenant Al Giardello over the seven-season run of the critically acclaimed Homicide: Life on the Street. Kotto’s cause of death has still not been made public, nor has information about his surviving family; he had six children, and was married to his third wife, Sinahon, since 1998.