Yaphet Kotto, the legendary Alien star and Bond villain, has passed away. In a Facebook post, Kotto’s wife Tessie Sinahon revealed the 81-year-old actor passed away near Manila, Philippines on Sunday night (March 14).
“I’m saddened and still in shocked [sic] of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years. He died last night around 10:30 p.m. Philippine time,” she wrote on Monday (March 15). “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!”
On social media, tributes poured in for Kotto. The New York City native starred in NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street,” The Running Man and acted opposite Robert De Niro in the 1988 comedy thriller Midnight Run.
“We are very sorry to learn that Yaphet Kotto, who played Dr. Kananga in Live And Let Die, has passed away at the age of 81,” the James Bond Twitter wrote. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
“Yaphet Kotto could make every scene crackle,” filmmaker Charles de Lauzirika added. “He was a force of nature in many roles, and certainly as Parker in ALIEN. But I also loved the more poker-faced side of him, such as Mosely in MIDNIGHT RUN, as well. A terrific actor. R.I.P.”
On Twitter, Ava DuVernay wrote, “Yaphet Kotto. My Mom’s favorite. 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.”
Kotto was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Baltimore Police Lieutenant Al Girardello on “Homicide: Life on the Street.”
“Giardello is one of the few characters on television that presented a positive Black man in a positive role with strengths and weaknesses and all the rest,” Kotto said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun. “When they created Giardello, they created a bigger-than-life character. Consequently, people who grew up on John Wayne and the kind of bigger-than-life characters like Clark Gable that Hollywood used to give us saw Giardello as a father figure or maybe an uncle. I know this because of the way people reacted to me and the character publicly and privately.”
See fans’ tributes to Kotto and his prolific career below. Rest in Peace.
Rest in Power to one of the best actors of his generation and one of the most under-appreciated James Bond villains of all-time, Yaphet Kotto. pic.twitter.com/mP86BF0YbN— Michael Eaves (@michaeleaves) March 16, 2021
Yaphet Kotto. My Mom’s favorite. 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. pic.twitter.com/BqeuVc7DSB— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 16, 2021
Yaphet Kotto could make every scene crackle. He was a force of nature in many roles, and certainly as Parker in ALIEN. But I also loved the more poker-faced side of him, such as Mosely in MIDNIGHT RUN, as well. A terrific actor. R.I.P. pic.twitter.com/4cngkwSpz8— Charles de Lauzirika (@Lauzirika) March 16, 2021
RIP Yaphet Kotto, a brilliant magnetic presence, bringing gravitas & naturalism to deep space or underground Bond lair. 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. pic.twitter.com/3LSuGSQQ8X— edgarwright (@edgarwright) March 16, 2021
Yaphet Kotto in Midnight Run is maybe one of my favourite straight-man/cop foils ever. Rest in piece, Agent Mosely/Mr Kotto pic.twitter.com/im8L19gWFQ— Mark Ronson (@MarkRonson) March 16, 2021
Memories and respect for Yaphet Kotto, whose film career was legend even before he came to Baltimore to grace our television drama. But for me, he'll always be Al Giardello, the unlikeliest Sicilian, gently pulling down the office blinds to glower at detectives in his squadroom. pic.twitter.com/rF9cBzBndG— David Simon (@AoDespair) March 16, 2021
Rest in power, Yaphet Kotto. Homicide: Life on the Street was my religion when it was on the air.— Evan Narcisse (@EvNarc) March 16, 2021
Him and Andre Braugher were like oxygen. (and Clark Johnson, too?! Man, listen….) pic.twitter.com/hEJu2TVqHm