Actor Yaphet Kotto, James Bond villain and Alien star, dies aged 81

James Bond star Yaphet Kotto, who played the first black 007 villain in 1973’s Live And Let Die, has passed away aged 81.

The death of the actor – who starred alongside the late Roger Moore as Mr Big/Dr Kananga in the 007 film – was announced by his wife Sinahon Thessa on Tuesday.     

She wrote: ‘I’m saddened and still in shocked of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years… 

‘This is a very painful moment for me to inform you all fans, friends and family of my husband.

RIP: James Bond actor Yaphet Kotto, who played the first black 007 villain in 1973's Live And Let Die, has passed away aged 81 (pictured with Roger Moore in the film)

RIP: James Bond actor Yaphet Kotto, who played the first black 007 villain in 1973's Live And Let Die, has passed away aged 81 (pictured with Roger Moore in the film)

RIP: James Bond actor Yaphet Kotto, who played the first black 007 villain in 1973’s Live And Let Die, has passed away aged 81 (pictured with Roger Moore in the film)

‘You still have 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 actor in Hollywood a Legend. Rest in Peace Honey, I’m gonna miss you everyday, my best friend, my rock.

‘I love you and you will always be in my heart. Till we meet again.’

Iconic: Off the back of his success in James Bond, he was cast as chief engineer Parker in iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien in 1979 (pictured)

Iconic: Off the back of his success in James Bond, he was cast as chief engineer Parker in iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien in 1979 (pictured)

Iconic: Off the back of his success in James Bond, he was cast as chief engineer Parker in iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien in 1979 (pictured)

Legend: The death of the actor - who starred alongside the late Roger Moore as Mr Big/Dr Kananga in the 007 film - was announced by his wife on Tuesday (pictured 2004)

Legend: The death of the actor - who starred alongside the late Roger Moore as Mr Big/Dr Kananga in the 007 film - was announced by his wife on Tuesday (pictured 2004)

Legend: The death of the actor – who starred alongside the late Roger Moore as Mr Big/Dr Kananga in the 007 film – was announced by his wife on Tuesday (pictured 2004)

A cause of death was not revealed. 

Yaphet was married three times and is survived by six children.

The American actor’s most famous role was that of the Bond villain in the iconic 1973 film where he played Harlem drug lord, Mr Big, who plans to distribute two tons of heroin for free, to put dealers out of business. 

However, Mr Big is revealed to be the alter-ego of corrupt Caribbean dictator, Dr Kananga, who rules over the fictional island of San Monique. 

He became the first black actor to portray a James Bond villain but later said he was banned from promoting the film because movie bosses were wary of the encouraging a negative perception to a black villain. 

Shaken, not stirred: The American actor's most famous role was that of the Bond villain in the iconic 1973 film where he played Harlem drug lord, Mr Big

Shaken, not stirred: The American actor's most famous role was that of the Bond villain in the iconic 1973 film where he played Harlem drug lord, Mr Big

Shaken, not stirred: The American actor’s most famous role was that of the Bond villain in the iconic 1973 film where he played Harlem drug lord, Mr Big

Horror: Yaphet's character met a famously grisly end in Alien  (above)

Horror: Yaphet's character met a famously grisly end in Alien  (above)

Horror: Yaphet’s character met a famously grisly end in Alien  (above)

YAPHET KOTTO’S BLOCKBUSTER FILM CAREER 

 1963- 4 FOR TEXAS

Yaphet makes his screen debut as an extra in 4 For Texas, which stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Ursula Andress

1968 – THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR // FIVE CARD STUD

He progresses to bigger roles in The Thomas Crown Affair as Carl and 5 Card Stud as Little George (Mama’s bartender)

1973 – LIVE AND LET DIE 

Aged 34, the star lands a soon-to-be iconic role as Dr. Kananga / Mr. Big in the latest James Bond film, Live and Let Die – alongside Roger Moore. He becomes the first black Bond villain with this role.

1976 –  RAID ON ENTEBBE

Yaphet receives an Emmy nomination for playing Ugandan strongman Idi Amin in the TV movie, Raid on Entebbe

1978 – BLUE COLLAR

The star plays convicted murderer Smokey James in the crime drama alongside Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel 

1979 – ALIEN 

He was cast as chief engineer Parker in iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien in 1979. His character met a memorably grisly demise when he was killed by the Alien as he collected oxygen tanks

1980 – BRUBAKER

Yaphet starred alongside Robert Redford in the prison drama, which tells the tale of a warden who attempts to clean up a corrupt and violent penal system. 

The actor played  Richard ‘Dickie’ Coombes.

1987 – THE RUNNING MAN

Yaphet also starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 sci-fi film, The Running Man, playing resistance fighter William Laughlin

1988 – MIDNIGHT RUN 

The actor starred alongside Robert DeNiro in the critically and commercially successful drama – playing FBI Special Agent Alonzo Mosely

 

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He told the Independent: ‘They didn’t play my character up. That hurt me a lot, man. 

‘I went through a lot of goddamn emotional hell because they were afraid people would be angry that a black guy was not being Sidney Poitier. I was the opposite of everything he created.’ 

Yaphet also starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 sci-fi film, The Running Man, playing resistance fighter William Laughlin.

Off the back of his success in James Bond, he was cast as chief engineer Parker in iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien in 1979. His character met a memorably grisly demise when he was killed by the Alien as he collected oxygen tanks.

 Yaphet once revealed he turned down the role of Lando Calrissian in Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back, over fears he would be typecast in sci-fi films.   

Cult classic: Yaphet also starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 sci-fi film, The Running Man, as resistance fighter William Laughlin

Cult classic: Yaphet also starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 sci-fi film, The Running Man, as resistance fighter William Laughlin

Cult classic: Yaphet also starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 sci-fi film, The Running Man, as resistance fighter William Laughlin

Classic: As well as his stellar movie roles, the star was known for his starring role in police procedural drama, Homicide: Life on the Street, in which he played Al Giardello from 1993-1999

Classic: As well as his stellar movie roles, the star was known for his starring role in police procedural drama, Homicide: Life on the Street, in which he played Al Giardello from 1993-1999

Classic: As well as his stellar movie roles, the star was known for his starring role in police procedural drama, Homicide: Life on the Street, in which he played Al Giardello from 1993-1999 

He also turned down the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, an iconic role which went to Patrick Stewart.

Yaphet later said he regretted declining the role, saying: ‘I think I made some wrong decisions in my life, man. I should have done that but I walked away. 

‘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.’

The actor also claimed to be related to Queen Elizabeth II, naming his 1997 biography ‘The Royalty’ in honour of his supposed royal lineage.  

The star appeared opposite Robert De Niro in the comedy thriller Midnight Run (1988) as FBI Agent Alonzo Mosley. 

Stellar: He received an Emmy nomination for playing Ugandan strongman Idi Amin in the TV movie, Raid on Entebbe

Stellar: He received an Emmy nomination for playing Ugandan strongman Idi Amin in the TV movie, Raid on Entebbe

Stellar: He received an Emmy nomination for playing Ugandan strongman Idi Amin in the TV movie, Raid on Entebbe

Family: Yaphet is pictured with his third wife Sinahon in 1997 - they wed the next year

Family: Yaphet is pictured with his third wife Sinahon in 1997 - they wed the next year

Family: Yaphet is pictured with his third wife Sinahon in 1997 – they wed the next year 

Family man: The star is pictured with his daughter Sarada, then 17, and his ex wife Toni Pettyjohn - who he divorced in 1989

Family man: The star is pictured with his daughter Sarada, then 17, and his ex wife Toni Pettyjohn - who he divorced in 1989

Family man: The star is pictured with his daughter Sarada, then 17, and his ex wife Toni Pettyjohn – who he divorced in 1989

As well as his stellar movie roles, the star was known for his starring role in police procedural drama, Homicide: Life on the Street, in which he played Al Giardello from 1993-1999.

He received an Emmy nomination for playing Ugandan strongman Idi Amin in the TV movie, Raid on Entebbe.

The NYC-born star began studying acting at the  Actors Mobile Theater Studio aged 16, making his professional acting debut in Othello aged 19.

He got his start in acting on Broadway, where he appeared in many productions, including The Great White Hope.   

His final film role was in 2008’s Witless Protection and his final TV spot was in 2000’s Homicide: The Movie – a continuation of the hit TV series. 

In 2015, Yaphet commented on speculation that Idris Elba was set to take over the iconic role of Bond, saying the secret agent role should only ever be portrayed by a white actor and ‘political correctness be damned’.   

Acclaimed: The star played convicted murderer Smokey James in the crime drama Blue Collar  alongside Richard Pryor (above) and Harvey Keitel

Acclaimed: The star played convicted murderer Smokey James in the crime drama Blue Collar  alongside Richard Pryor (above) and Harvey Keitel

Acclaimed: The star played convicted murderer Smokey James in the crime drama Blue Collar  alongside Richard Pryor (above) and Harvey Keitel

In an interview with Big Issue, Kotto said: ‘Political correctness be damned, we have to stay with what is literally correct.’

He said: ‘He was established as a white character, played by white actors. I don’t think it’s right for black actors or writers to do roles that whites have made historically white roles.’

Kotto argued that a black man could play 003 or 006, but could not be 007, and suggested new characters should be written for black heroes.  

He returned to the ‘Alien’ franchise in 2014, voicing his character Parker in the survival horror video game ‘Alien: Isolation.’ 

In 2017, the star said he believed aliens really exist and are not just fictional monsters portrayed in sci-fi thrillers.

Kotto opened up in a VICE interview about his beliefs, his first sighting and his experiences. 

‘I’ve never talked to anyone about it, man, this is the first time,’ said Kotto. 

His view: In 2017, the star said he believed aliens really exist and are not just fictional monsters portrayed in sci-fi thrillers (pictured above in Alien)

His view: In 2017, the star said he believed aliens really exist and are not just fictional monsters portrayed in sci-fi thrillers (pictured above in Alien)

His view: In 2017, the star said he believed aliens really exist and are not just fictional monsters portrayed in sci-fi thrillers (pictured above in Alien)

‘I’ve only told my wife, my rabbi and a psychologist. This is the first time I’m talking about it.’

The actor claimed to have even been abducted by aliens and that it’s been happening for decades. 

‘It started when I was about nine or ten years old,’ Kotto said. 

‘I remember being told I couldn’t go outside, so I would look out at the streets of my neighborhood in the Bronx, watching the kids play stickball.   

‘When I turned around, a figure was behind me, it was at least five or six feet tall with an elongated head. It appeared, then jumped to the back of me and disappeared. 

‘From that moment on, it was one experience after another which culminated into my sighting in the Philippines and during the filming of Alien.’

He added that some of those experiences also include seeing strange lights near his home. 

Kotto said that the strange sightings seemed to follow him too.   

‘Every time I moved into a house, above it at some point, there would be a circle of what looked like smoke,’ Kotto said. 

‘I’d wonder where it came from because it sure as hell didn’t look like clouds. 

Bond role: In 2015, Yaphet commented on speculation that Idris Elba was set to take over the iconic role of Bond, saying the secret agent role should only ever be portrayed by a white actor and 'political correctness be damned'

Bond role: In 2015, Yaphet commented on speculation that Idris Elba was set to take over the iconic role of Bond, saying the secret agent role should only ever be portrayed by a white actor and 'political correctness be damned'

Bond role: In 2015, Yaphet commented on speculation that Idris Elba was set to take over the iconic role of Bond, saying the secret agent role should only ever be portrayed by a white actor and ‘political correctness be damned’

‘Those sightings continued for a good 10 to 15 years. I’ve also had time loss. I have a big loss of time between some of these moments, and I’d often wonder if I was taken.’

The New York native shared that things became stranger when he went to the Philippines.   

‘It was one evening in my office in the Philippines. I heard my wife and the waiters calling me to come outside in very anxious voices,’ Kotto said.   

‘So I went out and when I got there, I saw the same huge circle of smoke over the house. 

‘When I asked them what they saw, they said they saw a UFO as big as the Yankee Stadium turned upside down.’

He continued, ‘They were freaking out. Two or three nights later, I saw it. The thing blotted out the entire sky. 

‘The moon and everything, it was huge. I just remember saying, ‘Jesus Christ.’ I mean I got so nervous, man, because you don’t see something like that without being vulnerable to becoming psychologically blown away. 

‘You get scared to put it quite frankly. That messed me up for a good three or four days.’

Early role: He played Little George alongside Robert Mitchum's The Rev. Jonathan Rudd in 1968's Five Card Stud

Early role: He played Little George alongside Robert Mitchum's The Rev. Jonathan Rudd in 1968's Five Card Stud

Early role: He played Little George alongside Robert Mitchum’s The Rev. Jonathan Rudd in 1968’s Five Card Stud

Koto noted that in order to believe they are real, aliens are something that must be seen. 

He said: ‘I have an IQ of 196. Might as well say that the hundreds of other people—including Canada’s previous defense minister—who came to the same conclusions about alien life had mental health issues too.’     

‘I’m already famous so what possible purpose would I have to tell these stories except how it relates to the movie Alien?’

He added: ‘This is the reason why I never talked about it after that movie because of course they’d say, ‘oooh, he’s trying to promote his movie.’ Well I’m not promoting anything now. 

‘I’ve written no book and I have no movie that’s about to be released. 

‘This is the time to reveal this because no one can connect it to anything that’s a financial gain or form of media exposure.’

Kotto said that he will soon be vindicated and that the aliens he has seen will reveal themselves to the rest of the world soon. 

He claimed that it will happen, since humans are destroying the planet.  

‘We need to take a serious look at what we’re doing and [the aliens are] going to help us do that,’ Kotto said.  

‘We’re not alone, we’re not alone in the universe. If you totally westernize the idea look at it from a supremacy viewpoint, then you’ll say, everyone’s imagining them when it comes to these things,’the actor said. 

‘We can say that, but much of the world would reject that premise. We’re not alone.’  

Tribute: Directors Edgar Wright and  Ava DuVernay also paid tribute to the iconic actor

Tribute: Directors Edgar Wright and  Ava DuVernay also paid tribute to the iconic actor

Tribute: Directors Edgar Wright and  Ava DuVernay also paid tribute to the iconic actor 

Link hienalouca.com

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