Who Was Yaphet Kotto? Wiki, Biography, Age, Family, Career, Wife, Cause of Death

Yaphet Kotto
Yaphet Kotto

Yaphet Kotto Biography, Wiki

Yaphet Kotto was an American actor known for numerous film roles, as well as starring in the NBC television series Homicide: Life on the Street (1993–1999) as Lieutenant Al Giardello, has died. His films include the science-fiction/horror film Alien (1979), and the Arnold Schwarzenegger science-fiction/action film The Running Man (1987). He portrayed the main villain Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big in the James Bond movie Live and Let Die (1973). He appeared opposite Robert De Niro in the comedy thriller Midnight Run (1988) as FBI Agent Alonzo Mosley.

Born in New York in 1939, Kotto played villain Kananga and alter ego, Mr. Big, in Roger Moore’s first Bond movie, Live & Let Die, in 1973. It followed appearances in TV shows including Hawaii Five-O and The Big Valley. Kotto went on to play technician Dennis Parker in Alien in 1979.


Yaphet Kotto has died at the age of 81-years-old.

Family & Siblings

Kotto was born in New York City. His mother was Gladys Marie, a nurse, and U.S. Army, officer. His father is Avraham Kotto (according to his son, originally named Njoki Manga Bell), a businessman from Cameroon who emigrated to the United States in the 1920s.


Later in his career, Kotto notched up credits on Law & Order and The Wire, while his wife said that he was still receiving offers of work, including a Tom Cruise project. Sihon added that Kotto planned to release a book.

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“One of the best actors in Hollywood a Legend. Rest in Peace Honey, I’m gonna miss you every day, my best friend, my rock. I love you and you will always be in my heart. Till we meet again!,” she added in her Facebook post.

Middle of Nowhere filmmaker Ava DuVernay was among those who paid tribute to Kotto:

Wife & Children

Kotto’s first marriage was to a German immigrant, Rita Ingrid Dittman, whom he married in 1959. They had three children together before divorcing in 1976. Later, Kotto married Toni Pettyjohn, and they also had three children together, before divorcing in 1989. Kotto married his third wife, Tessie Sinahon, on July 12, 1998. Kotto was Jewish.

Cause of Death

He died on March 15, 2021, at the age of 81. No cause of death was given. Yaphet Kotto, the American actor known for being the first major Black James Bond villain, has died at the age of 81.

Kotto’s wife, Tessie Sinahon, first revealed the news on Facebook, while Kotto’s agent confirmed his death to Variety. “You played a villain in 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,” Sinahon said.