Legendary actor Yaphet Kotto dies at age 81
It is with great sadness that ComingSoon.net must report (via New York Times) that legendary actor Yaphet Kotto has passed away at age 81 at his home in the Philippines.
During his five decade career on stage and screen Kotto landed iconic roles including the blue collar technician Parker in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi landmark Alien (1979), the Bond villain Kananga/Mr. Big in the Roger Moore 007 entry Live and Let Die (1973), and the compassionate Police Lieutenant Al Giardello in David Simon’s watershed TV series Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993 to 2000.
Other notable roles include The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) opposite Steve McQueen, Across 110th Street (1972) with Anthony Quinn, blaxploitation classics Truck Turner (1974) opposite Isaac Hayes and Friday Foster (1975) with Pam Grier, the underrated crime thriller Report to the Commissioner (1975), Paul Schrader’s union drama Blue Collar (1978) alongside Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel, in the Robert Redford prison drama Brubaker (1980), the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle The Running Man (1987) and the Robert De Niro hit Midnight Run (1988). Kotto also co-wrote, directed and starred in the 1972 cop drama The Limit.
He effectively retired from acting in 2008 after the Larry the Cable Guy vehicle Witless Protection, although he made one last voice appearance reprising his role as Parker in the video game Alien: Isolation (2014).
Here are some reactions from social media…
I will tell one Yaphet Kotto story today, though it really belongs to Tom Fontana, the mastermind of “Homicide: Life on The Street.” Anyway, the character of Al Giardello was based on Gary D’Addario, the real-life Italian-American shift commander in my source book for the drama..
— David Simon (@AoDespair) 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
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
Damn. Funnier than he had any right to be. Versatile as fuck. Royalty in Cameroon. Jewish, too. Made everything just that much better, from Alien and Live and Let Die to Midnight Run and The Running Man. I should dig up his Othello. I bet it’s a sight to see. #RIP #YaphetKotto. pic.twitter.com/t1uR3Tyh4S
— Tolkien Negro (@marcbernardin) March 16, 2021
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)