Yaphet Kotto, known for his roles in sci-fi horror Alien and Bond thriller Live and Let Die, has passed away.
His wife, Tessie Sinahon, confirmed in a Facebook post that her husband died on Monday. “A good man, a good father, a good husband, and a decent human being, very rare to find,” she wrote on the actor’s official page. “You played a villain in some of your movies but for me you’re a real hero.” No cause of death has been given.
His best-remembered screen roles are as hard-headed space trucker Dennis Parker in Ridley Scott’s seminal 1972 horror, Alien, and Bond villain and drug baron Mr. Big in Roger Moore’s debut Bond film, Live and Let Die.
In the 80s he went toe-to-toe with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the iconic cheesy thriller, The Running Man, and appeared against Robert De Niro in the buddy comedy Midnight Run, earning praise for his tough-guy performances.
One of Kotto’s most successful roles was as Lieutenant Al Giardello in the police procedural television show Homicide: Life on the Street, from 1993 to 2000, where he served as one of the show’s only consistent cast members.
He was nominated four times for the role at the Image Awards, an awards ceremony run and presented by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People).
Tributes have poured in on Twitter, with action-comedy director Edgar Wright and filmmaker and documentarian Ava DuVernay paying respects to the actor.
“A brilliant magnetic presence, bringing gravitas and naturalism to deep space or underground Bond lair,” wrote Wright.
DuVernay shared the sentiment, saying he was her mother’s “favourite” and called him a “star”.
Kotto was born to Gladys, an American nurse, and Avraham Kotto, a businessman from Cameroon who emigrated to the United States. Yaphet Kotto is survived by his wife and six children.
Words by Sebastian Mann
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