Yaphet Kotto, James Bond Villain And 'Alien' Star, Dead At 81

Yaphet Kotto, star of films like Alien, the James Bond film Live and Let Die, and the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street, has died at age 81.

Kotto's agent Ryan Goldhar confirmed the actor's passing to Variety after Kotto's wife, Tessie Sinahon, first posted about Kotto's death on Facebook Monday night.

"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," she wrote. "...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. Rest in Peace Honey, I'm gonna miss you everyday, my best friend, my rock."

Kotto may be best known for playing the villain of the 1973 James Bond flick Live and Let Die, in which he starred as the corrupt Caribbean dictator Dr. Kananga and his drug-pushing alter ego Mr. Big. He is also beloved for his role as the technician Dennis Parker in 1979's Alien and for his seven-season run as Al Giardello in the NBC series Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993 to 1999. Other notable roles include the Blaxploitation pic Truck Turner (1974), Report to the Commissioner (1975), Friday Foster (1975), The Monkey Hustle (1976), Fighting Back (1982), The Star Chamber (1983), Warning Sign (1985), Eye of the Tiger (1986) and Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991).

Though he's been a frequent presence in both blockbuster genre films and TV, Kotto also passed on roles like Lando Calrissian, which would go on to be played by Billy Dee Williams in Star Wars, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

"Once you get one of those big blockbuster hits, you better have some other big blockbuster hits to go with it too and be Harrison Ford, because if you don't ... you place yourself right out of the business," Kotto said in a 2003 interview.

Born in New York City on November 15, 1939, Kotto began studying acting a the age of 16 at the Actors Mobile Theater Studio. At 19, he made his professional theater debut in Othello and continued to perform on Broadway in The Great White Hope. He would make his first film appearances in movies like 1964's Nothing But a Man and 1968's The Thomas Crown Affair. He would also make a guest-star appearance as Marine Lance Corporal on Hawaii Five-O in 1969.

Kotto had a rich career on both the big and small screen, but one of Kotto's longest and final roles was that of Al Giardello on Homicide: Life on the Street, for which he also holds several scriptwriting credits. He also starred in Homicide: The Movie in 2000, and most recently voiced Parker in the Alien: Isolation video game.

Kotto is survived by his wife and six children.