Yaphet Kotto dead: Iconic James Bond villain dies at 81 as wife issues emotional statement

Sir Roger Moore looks back on his iconic career

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Actor Yaphet Kotto has died, his agent Ryan Goldhar confirmed to US publication Variety. He was 81 and best known for his roles as the villain alongside the late Roger Moore in James Bond’s Live and Let Die and Alien.

You played a villain on some of your movies but for me you’re a real hero

Tessie Sinahon

The sad news was also confirmed by his wife Tessie Sinahon, in an emotional statement posted to Facebook on Monday night.

His cause of death is currently unknown.

The tribute post began: “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,” Tessie wrote.

Turning attention to his familiar roles on-screen, she added: “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.”

Tessie revealed he had upcoming movies in the works, with offers to star in the newest version of G.I. Joe and alongside Tom Cruise.

She also mentioned that he had plans to released his book and build a religious organisation based on Yogananda’s Teachings.

The statement concluded: “Rest in Peace Honey, I’m gonna miss you everyday, my best friend, my rock.”

Kotto played two roles in the 1973 spy franchise, appearing as Caribbean dictator Dr. Kananga and his drug pushing alter ego Mr. Big; a dual portrayal he was recognised for and applauded many times over his successful career.

Landing the villain role in alongside Roger Moore, propelled him to a new level and made him famous across the world.

He was also well known for starring as technician Dennis Parker in Alien, becoming a hugely popular actor throughout the 80s and 90s.

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The actor went on to have features on NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street, The Running Man, Blue Collar and Midnight Run.

He began studying in the industry at the age of 16, at the Actors Mobile Theater Studio in New York City where he grew up.

Three years later at the age of 19, Kotto made his professional theatre debut in Othello, which led to an appearance Broadway in The Great White Hope.

He broke into film in 1964, where he starred in Nothing But a Man, followed by The Thomas Crown Affair in 1968.

The year after, Kotto held a guest-starring role as Marine Lance Corporal in the hugely popular Hawaii Five-O. 

Following the news, fans took to Twitter to share their condolences with his family and remember his talented work on and off the big screen, with one writing: “So sad to hear, he was a great actor.”

Another added: “My prayers and love go out to his famiy at this tough time. i remember him from the James Bond films, he played such a good role!!”

Kotto is survived by his wife and six children.

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