Yaphet Kotto, known for roles as Parker in 1979’s “Alien” and Lieutenant Al Giardello in “Homicide: Life on the Street,” has died, according to reports. He was 81.
Kotto’s agent Ryan Goldhar confirmed the news to New York Times and Variety. His wife Tessie Sinahon announced his death in a Facebook post Monday.
“I’m saddened and still in shocked of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years. He died last night around 10:30pm Philippine time,” she wrote. “Rest in Peace Honey, I’m gonna miss you everyday, my bestfriend, my rock. I love you and you will always be in my heart. Till we meet again!”
USA TODAY reached out to Kotto’s agent for a statement.
The New York native took on roles in both film and television and earned a supporting role Emmy nomination for portraying President Idi Amin Dada in NBC film “Raid on Entebbe.” He also played villain Dr. Kananga, also known as Mr. Big, in James Bond film “Live and Let Die.”
Passages 2021:Rush Limbaugh, Roger Mudd, Cicely Tyson and more stars we lost this year
The Hollywood community including “Selma” director Ava DuVernay and “Baby Driver” director Edgar Wright honored Kotto on Twitter.
“Yaphet Kotto. My Mom’s favorite. He’s one of those actors who deserved more than the parts he got,” DuVernay wrote. “But he took those parts and made them wonderful all the same. A star. Rest well, sir.”
“RIP Yaphet Kotto, a brilliant magnetic presence, bringing gravitas & naturalism to deep space or underground Bond lair,” Wright wrote.
“Homicide: Life on the Street” ran for seven seasons on NBC where Kotto playing moral Baltimore Police Lieutenant Al Girardello. During the seventh season he was killed off in a dramatic scene. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Kotto said the killing of his character was more than just a story line plot, but a loss of a positive role in the Black community.
“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. “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.”
Kotto married Sinahon in 1998 in Baltimore. Sinahon, who won the actor’s heart during a chance meeting in an airport, moved to the United States in May 1997 after a five-year courtship conducted mostly over the phone.
Contributing: Associated Press