Yaphet Kotto, best known to TV audiences as police lieutenant Al Giardello on Homicide: Life on the Street, has died at the age of 81.
Kotto’s wife, Tessie Sinahon, announced his passing in a Facebook post late Monday. “I’m saddened and still in shock of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years. He died last night around 10:30 pm Philippine time,” she wrote. “This is a very [painful] moment for me to inform you all fans, friends and family of my husband. We still have a lot of plans, honey… 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[s] in Hollywood, a Legend. Rest in Peace Honey, I’m gonna miss you everyday, my best friend, my rock. I love you and you will always be in my heart. Till we meet again!”
Kotto co-starred on Homicide: Life on the Street for its entire seven-season run from 1993-99, then played Al Giardello again in the 2000 TV movie Homicide: The Movie. The character also crossed over to a Season 8 episode of Law & Order in 1997.
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But Kotto’s career began with small, one-off roles on various series, including Death Valley Days, Hawaii Five-O, Gunsmoke, Hill Street Blues and Murder, She Wrote. He also starred in the short-lived war drama For Love and Honor and, in 1977, earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for the TV movie Raid on Entebbe.
On the film side, Kotto filled a number of notable roles, including the villainous Mr. Big in the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die. He also played engineer Dennis Parker in Alien, a character he then returned to voice in the 2014 video game Alien: Isolation.
Kotto is survived by his wife and six children.