The legendary Live And Let Die, Alien, and The Running Man star passes away at 81
Sad news reaches us today. It has been announced that legendary actor Yaphet Kotto has passed away at the age of 81. No cause of death has been given. Born in New York City in November of 1939, Kotto went on to become one of the most dependable actors in Hollywood. No matter what the material was, Kotto could always be relied upon to give a masterful performance.
His beloved wife posted this update on his Official Facebook page:
“I’m saddened and still in shock of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years. He died last night around 10:30 pm Philippine time. This is a very painful [sic] moment for me to inform you all fans, friends, and family of my husband. We still have a lot of plans honey that we discussed you have a lot of interviews waiting and you have movie offers like G.I. Joe and the movie of Tom Cruise and others. You still have a plan to release your book and build a religious organization based on Yogananda’s Teachings.
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. 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. I love you and you will always be in my heart. Till we meet again!”
Born to an American mother of West Indian descent and a father from Cameroon, Kotto began studying acting at the age of 19. Aged 19, he made his debut in a production of ‘Othello’. He went on to star on Broadway in many successful productions. In 1963, aged 23, Kotto made his film debut in an uncredited role in ‘4 For Texas‘. He went on to appear in a supporting role in the 1968 version of ‘The Thomas Crown Affair‘. He also appeared in the first season of ‘Hawaii Five-O‘ as a confused Marine Corporal in the same year.
1973 saw the actor appear in Roger Moore’s debut James Bond film ‘Live And Let Die.’ Filmed during the ‘Blaxploitation‘ era, Kotto gave a cartoonish performance as the villain of the film. However, his appearance as Dr. Kananga/ Mr. Big was an inspired choice. Following this, he appeared in the TV movie ‘Raid On Entebbe‘ as the real-life dictator Idi Amin. And in 1978, he appeared as an auto worker in the film ‘Blue Collar‘ alongside Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel.
1979 though saw Yaphet Kotto appear in a little-known science fiction horror film named ‘Alien‘. His performance as the engineer Parker and his banter with fellow engineer Brett played by Harry Dean Stanton was inspired. His method of acting in some scenes angered his co-star Sigourney Weaver to the point where her irritability and anger at him in some scenes wasn’t acting at all. But he planned it that way and dragged out a believable performance from her, something she later acknowledged.
THE RUNNING MAN
1980 saw Kotto play a supporting role to Robert Redford in the prison drama ‘Brubaker‘. He went on to appear on TV again in an episode of ‘The A-Team‘. 1987 saw him appear alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘The Running Man‘. In 1988, he appeared in ‘Midnight Run‘ alongside Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin. Around the same time, he was considered for the role of Jean Luc Picard in the show ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation‘.
1993 saw the actor take on the role of Lieutenant Al Giardello in the acclaimed series ‘Homicide: Life On The Streets‘. The show ran for six years and Kotto was a mainstay in the cast. Kotto also contributed scripts for the show. 1991 saw him appear in a small supporting role in ‘Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare‘. But he pulled something out of the bag with his final screen performance in 2008s ‘Witless Protection.’ Although the film was widely panned, Kotto’s role of Ricardo Bodi was revealed to be Alonzo Mosely, the character the actor had played twenty years before in ‘Midnight Run‘.
Kotto wrote a book entitled ‘Royalty‘ before stepping in front of a microphone and lending his voice once more as Parker in the 2014 videogame ‘Alien: Isolation.‘ Married three times and the father of six children, Kotto married his third wife, Tessie in 1998. They remained married until his death yesterday, in the Philippines at the age of 81.
We here at The Future Of The Force are saddened at the passing of such an iconic and legendary actor. He brought everything to his performances and has left an indelible mark on the face of TV and movies. Audiences will never see the likes of Yaphet Kotto again but we can be honored to remember his work and the man himself. We give thanks to him and the legacy he has left us with. And although the man never was one, I leave you with a quote from his role in ‘The Running Man‘.
“I don’t want to be the only a*****e in heaven”
Rest In peace, Yaphet Kotto.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!