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News: Actor Yaphet Kotto dies, aged 81

The beloved actor Yaphet Kotto has sadly died, aged 81, at his home in the Philippines.

No details have been shared regarding the cause of his death.

Son of an American nurse and Cameroon businessman, young Fredrick Kotto (later taking the name Yaphet), would develop a love of performing arts from an early age. This would push him to explore the possibilities for stage and screen acting in New York City, where he was born. As a member of the Actors Studio, it didn't take long for his talent and his passion to open up avenues for him to take supporting and lead roles in stage and television.

It was during the 1960s that Yaphet built his career on supporting roles in both acclaimed films and television series such as Bonanza, Hawaii Five-O and The Thomas Crown Affair. He even found time to release a single - "Have You Ever Seen The Blues" / "Have You Dug His Scene" in 1967, but it didn't break the market sadly.

Yet it was during the 1970s and the rise of blaxpoitation cinema that his powerful and brooding screen presence was used best when he become more and more prominent in films such as Across 110th Street, Friday Foster opposite Pam Grier and Raid on Entebbe in which he was nominated for an Emmy. Yet it would also be in the 70s that Yaphet would star in two films that would propel him to international stardom and cement his name with generations.

1973s James Bond adventure Live and Let Die had him star opposite Roger Moore as evil drug kingpin Dr Kananga, and his charming, ruthless and collected manner of Bond villain went down a storm with fans and remains a stand-out villain of the series and also for being the first African/American foe 007 faced as a lead villain.

1979s science-fiction horror Alien saw Yaphet as technician Dennis Parker, part of the ill-fated crew of the 'Nostromo' alongside Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt. His role has gone down in history being part of one of the most celebrated sci-fi films ever. The role of Parker in the 2014 video game Alien: Isolation was also voiced by Yaphet.

Alongside his appearances in two global leading franchises, Yaphet went from strength to strength in television and film work for the following three decades. His versatile talents as an actor lent to any genre such as Murder, She Wrote, Eye of the Tiger and Brubaker, but his tall frame always worked well as figures of law enforcement such as his turns in Midnight Run, Extreme Justice and the TV hit Homicide: Life on the Street.

He even starred alongside action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987s The Running Man as fellow convict William Laughlin.

An actor who is totally memorable in every role he is in, thanks to his strong physicality and often soothing, calm and collected voice. Yaphet helped drive African/American cinema during the 1970s and onwards with major Hollywood roles, never once making sacrifices or settling for less than he deserved as both an actor and an African/American.

His beloved turns in two huge franchises will only help his name ripple along the generations and gain him new fans with the discovery of his timeless characters in timeless films.

Fredrick S. Kotto

(names is for tombstones, baby)


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