Yaphet Kotto, best known for his seven-season run as police lieutenant Alphonse “Gee” Giardello on Homicide: Life on the Street and as the Bond villain in Live and Let Die, has passed away at the age of 81 on Monday.
Yaphet Kotto Has Passed Away
The actor’s wife, Tessie Sinahon, posted the sad news on Facebook. “I’m saddened and still in shocked of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years,” she wrote. “This is a very [painful] moment for me to inform you all fans, friends and family of my husband.”
Sinahon wrote about the plans he still had, the movie offers he had out there — such as one from Tom Cruise — and Kotto’s desire to release his 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,” she continued. “A good man, a good father, a good husband and a decent human being, very rare to find. One of the best actor 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!”
Kotto was also known for playing a space traveler in Alien, his Emmy-nominated performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the TV movie, Raid on Entebbe, and of course as Bond villain Mr. Big in Live and Let Die, in which he terrorized a young Jane Seymour among others.
Among those paying tribute on Twitter was director Ava DuVernay, who posted four photos from throughout Kotto’s career and wrote how the actor was her mom’s favorite.
“He’s one of those actors who deserved more than the parts he got,” she said. “But he took those parts and made them wonderful all the same. A star. Rest well, sir.”
“I should have done that, but I walked away,” he said in an interview in 2015. “When you’re making movies, you’d tend to say no to TV. It’s like when you’re in college and someone asks you to the high school dance. You say no.”
Still, he had quite the career. Kotto appeared on Broadway, following James Earl Jones in The Great White Hope, playing heavyweight champ Jack Johnson. Other memorable roles came in movies such as The Running Man, Midnight Run, and Brubaker.
Entertainment Hub sends condolences to the actor’s family, friends, and fans during this difficult time.
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