Variety reports that Kotto’s agent, Ryan Goldhar, confirmed the news, and Kotto’s wife, Tessie Sinahon, later posted on Facebook about her husband’s death. Kotto was best known for his performances in the James Bond movie Live and Let Die and the Ridley Scott sci-fi classic Alien. He also famously portrayed Lieutenant Al Giardello on the NBC television series Homicide: Life on the Street.
“I’m saddened and still in shocked [sic] of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years. He died last night around 10:30pm Philippine time,” Sinahon wrote in her post. “You played a villain on some of your movies but for me you’re a real hero and to a lot of people also. A good man, a good father, a good husband and a decent human being, very rare to find.”
She concluded: “One of the best actors in Hollywood a Legend. Rest in Peace Honey, I’m gonna miss you every day, my best friend, my rock.”
No cause of death was given.
Kotto was perhaps best known for his villainous turn as Mr. Big/Dr. Kananga in 1973’s Live and Let Die, in which Roger Moore made his debut as 007. He then went on to portray technician Dennis Parker in Alien alongside Sigourney Weaver, resistance fighter William Laughlin in The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and special agent Alonzo Mosely in Midnight Run with Robert De Niro.
The actor also had a memorable career on the small screen, playing Al Giardello in a six-year stint on Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993 to 1999. Some of Kotto’s other TV roles include a guest-starring role as a Marine Lance Corporal on Hawaii Five-O, and a mobster known as “East Side Charlie” on The A-Team, as well as appearances in For Love and Honor, Death Valley Days, and Law & Order.
Several industry heavyweights paid condolences to the late actor on social media following the announcement of his passing. “Yaphet Kotto. My Mom’s favorite,” tweeted director Ava DuVernay. “He’s one of those actors who deserved more than the parts he got. But he took those parts and made them wonderful all the same. A star. Rest well, sir.”
“RIP Yaphet Kotto, a brilliant magnetic presence, bringing gravitas & naturalism to deep space or underground Bond lair,” said director Edgar Wright in his tribute on Twitter. “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.”
Adele Ankers is a Freelance Entertainment Journalist. You can reach her on Twitter.