Bond and Alien star Yaphet Kotto dead at 81

Originally published at: Bond and Alien star Yaphet Kotto dead at 81 | Boing Boing


Of course, a great Bond villain, and a good run on “Homicide.” I’m weirded out to see that his film credits include a blaxsploitation called “The Monkey Hustle.” “Times were different” and all that, but . . . yuck.


An under-appreciated actor. Might have to rewatch The Running Man tonight.


as a kid, he was one of my favorite things in Live and Let Die. that laugh! and somehow i never realized he was also in Alien, but of course it’s the same actor. i heard this morning that he also turned down Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back because he didn’t want to be typecast as a sci-fi actor. i love imagining him speaking Lando’s lines (“Hel-LO, what have we here?”).


He had a small role in the orig Thomas Crown Affair.

I was just thinking about him the other day, and what a wonderful actor he was.


The good man also battled Freddy Krueger but yes, he’ll always be Mr. Big and Parker to me.


What a marvelous voice, recognizable anywhere. I can’t think of anything he was in that was bad…


Just recently saw him in Friday Foster! Not a great blaxploitation film, based on a comic strip, so it’s not exactly steeped in noir, and the plot makes no sense, but fun and fast moving with an outstanding cast. In addition to leads Pam Grier & Kotto, we get bits from Godfrey Cambridge, Thalmus Rasulala, Eartha Kitt, Scatman Crothers, Ted Lange, Paul Benjamin, Julius Harris, Carl Weathers, and Jack Baker.

Despite the funny page origins, this has got some boobs and blood, so NSFW.

Sound goes out for a bit less than a minute early on.


He’ll always be Al Giardello to me.


“So, um, we think we should discuss the bonus situation…”


From a 1993 Baltimore Sun article. Tough act For Yaphet Kotto, seeking softer roles is his life’s story

Actor Yaphet Kotto has the look down pat. You know the one. It’s a glare that comes across as tough, in control and downright intimidating.

In the television series, “Homicide: Life on the Street,” Mr. Kotto plays the fictional character Lieutenant Giardello. There’s a convincing scene where Lieutenant Giardello tells a slow moving detective he had better see “lightning” come out of his butt. Then he gives the detective a look that could shrivel the bloom off a newly blossomed rose.

Mr. Kotto knows he’s convincing at playing tough guys and enjoys his role in the TV series, which airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays. But enough already with playing the heavies. “There’s a distorted image of me,” he says, while sipping tea over lunch. What he really wants is to play a romantic lead for a change. “I want to have a wife or a girlfriend and fall in love,” Mr. Kotto says.

The aritcle was mentioned in his new york times obit.


Same, that show was brilliant and he was outstanding in it.
His son was played by the great Giancarlo Esposito.


First saw him on Broadway in the original production of “The Great White Hope” starring James Earl Jones. He stole the show as far as I was concerned.

He could have done so much more but what he did was more than enough and of very high quality.


Saw him in “Live and Let Die”, which was also the first film I ever saw at the cinema (with my Dad, I was seven), in 1973.
(Also wanted him to win). Very cool villain.


If you haven’t already, read the book[s]. While they are horribly racist, the villains are more interesting and nuanced, and Bond is much less of a cartoon-hero. But, again, they have the 1950s White Empire racism thing that’s shocking.

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I have read them. Once in the 70’s, when it felt a bit “Boy’s Own” adventure. Loved them then, they appealed to the kid in me. Didn’t even notice the sexism or racism - due to youth I guess. Then 3 or 4 years ago someone bought me the boxset of books. I think I managed to choke down Dr. No with the Giant Squid, but I couldn’t be bothered to revisit the lot again. My tastes have changed.
I remember that way back when, his wife was quite dismissive of his work, describing it as “porn”.


Just recently, I saw the Night Gallery episode “The Messiah on Mott Street.” It features a younger Yaphet Kotto, and he gives a quiet, but powerful performance in it:

(It is one of the sweetest, gentlest stories Rod Serling brought to the airwaves. Unfortunately, the NBC site has ad breaks–sorry about that.)



Here’s one of my favorite performances from Yaphet. He plays a thief who breaks into the home of a happy Beverly Hills couple. Only his intrusion reveals that they really aren’t so happy. I’m being vague because I think it’s best to avoid spoilers as much as possible for this one. It’s a bit Joe Orton / Edward Albee - esque, though. Larry Cohen’s first film as director.




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