Yaphet Kotto died on March 14 according to a Facebook post his wife, Tessie Sinahon, wrote on his Facebook page on March 15. Representatives of Kotto confirmed the news with Showbiz Cheat Sheet. With so many movie and television credits between 1964 and 2008, there are sure to be gems worth discovering between the big hits.
Kotto played Baltimore, Maryland police Lt. Al Giardello the longest, for seven seasons on Homicide: Life on the Street. He got to play Othello in a 1980 Shakespeare movie adaptation. But, five fan-favorite movie roles over the decades made Kotto a cinema legend.
Yaphet Kotto was among the first to encounter the ‘Alien’
By now everyone knows the Alien. Its face huggers plant a seed in you which grows until it pops out of your chest, killing you in its escape. Then it grows and bleeds acid, if you can even cause any damage to it. The first encounter reportedly sent Kotto back to his trailer.
The 1979 Alien was the Nostromo crew, and moviegoers’, first encounter with the creature. Kotto played Parker, a crew member just trying to survive and get home from a job. The fact that he wasn’t in any other Alien movies gives you a hint as to his fate, although he’s credited as Parker’s voice in the 2014 Alien: Isolation video game.
Yaphet Kotto was the Bond villain in ‘Live and Let Die’
Live and Let Die was Roger Moore’s first James Bond movie. Based on the Ian Fleming novel, Bond goes to New Orleans to investigate the death of another agent. That’s where he discovers Kananga (Kotto)’s master plan involving heroin and voodoo.
Kananga has an underground lair that would make Blofeld or Dr. Evil proud. Bond defeats him in one of the series’ more questionable special effects, but Kotto is a great menace in 1970s style.
‘The Running Man’ and his friends
The Running Man was an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle. Its premise, based on a Stephen King (as Richard Bachman) novel, of a game show that hunts contestants to the death, wasn’t far off from today’s reality TV. Schwarzenegger played Ben Richards, a pilot framed for murder when he refuses an order to kill innocent civilians.
Richards meets Laughlin (Kotto) and Weiss (Marvin J. McIntyre) in prison and after they escape, they end up on “The Running Man” together. Kotto helps Schwarzenegger battle hunters like Subzero (Professor Toru Tanaka) and Buzzsaw (Gus Rethwisch), and he rocks the silver spandex uniform.
Yaphet Kotto hunts Robert De Niro’s ‘Midnight Run’
Midnight Run is one of the great ’80s buddy action-comedies. Robert De Niro plays bounty hunter Jack Walsh. Walsh and FBI Agent Alonzo Mosely are after the same bail skipper, Jonathan Mardukas (Charles Grodin). Walsh finds him first and Mosely is on their tail.
Kotto is a foil in Midnight Run, but a magnificent straight man to De Niro and Grodin’s shenanigans. If you like this kind of caper, Kotto also plays an FBI agent on the trail of some wacky crooks in Two If By Sea.
Yaphet Kotto helped make sure ‘Freddy’s Dead’
The best part of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare is that it was not, in fact, final. It only took three years to make Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and then Freddy vs. Jason in 2003 and a 2010 Nightmare on Elm Street remake.
When they really, honestly, thought they were making the last one, Kotto played a youth center counselor trying to help kids. His job got a lot harder when Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) followed some kids from Springwood. He actually helps Maggie (Lisa Zane) come up with the plan to kill Freddy “for good” and gets a few jabs in himself.