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The first Black James Bond villain — and “Alien” actor — Yaphet Kotto died at the age of 81. His wife, Sinahon Thessa, announced his passing on March 15, 2021, via a Facebook post. In her post, she called Kotto “A good father,” husband, and man.
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 further said that he was “a Legend” and “One of the best actors in Hollywood.” Kotto passed away in the evening hours of Monday night. According to his wife, he died “around” 10:30 p.m. Philippine Standard Time.
The actor was born on Nov. 15, 1939, in Harlem, New York. According to IMDb, he was of Cameroonian royal ancestry. His great-grandfather had been a king back in pre-colonial days.
In the 1920s, his father moved to the United States. He was a businessman who decided to become a construction worker. His mother was an army officer and nurse. His grandparents raised him after his parents divorced when he was three years old.
Kotto began his acting career on stage in 1958. His debut title role was in the play “Othello.” On Broadway, he was James Earl Jones’ understudy in “The Great White Hope.” In 1993, he had a recurring role as a senior detective on the TV show “Homicide: Life on the Street.” Often times he played a military officer or police detective in shows and movies.
He married his first wife — Rita Ingrid Dittman — in 1962. They had three children together before divorcing in 1975. On Jan. 29, 1975, Kotto married his second wife Antonette Pettyjohn. Before they divorced the couple had two children together.
Kotto married his widow, Tessie Sinahon, on July 12, 1998. Together they ran a retreat resort for artists called “The Running Man Institute” located in the Philippines.
Many people took to social media to pay their respects to the late actor and his family. May he rest in peace.
Written by Sheena Robertson
IMDb: Yaphet Kotto
BBC: Yaphet Kotto: James Bond villain and Alien actor dies at 81
Featured Image Courtesy of Rob DiCaterino’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License