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Yaphet Kotto

Yaphet KottoAKA Yaphet Frederick Kotto

Born: 15-Nov-1937
Birthplace: New York City
Died: 15-Mar-2021
Location of death: Manila, Philippines
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor, Royalty
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Homicide

Yaphet Kotto started taking acting classes at 16. He made his professional stage debut at 19 as Othello, and understudied James Earl Jones in a 1964 production of The Blood Knot. His first bow on Broadway came in 1965, in The Zulu and the Zayda with Ossie Davis and Lou Gossett, Jr., and in 1969 he replaced Jones in the Tony-winning The Great White Hope with Ned Beatty. Dissatisfied with the movie roles being offered black actors, he turned down several chances to begin his film career, preferring to stay on stage.

His first movie was 1964's Nothing But A Man with Ivan Dixon, a low-budget small-scale drama now justifiably considered a classic of black American cinema, and a few years later he won rave reviews killing a cop in The Liberation of L. B. Jones with Lee J. Cobb. In Alien with Sigourney Weaver, he played a worker in the ship's underbelly who complained of receiving only half pay, until more serious problems emerged. In the James Bond adventure Live and Let Die he played the drug-dealing villain Mr Big, who met an explosive end. He played Idi Amin in Raid on Entebbe, a dead serious yet hilarious federal agent in Midnight Run with Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, and he delivered perhaps his best performance in the riveting Blue Collar with Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel.

He wrote, directed, and starred as a heroic motorcycle cop in the little-seen Speed Limit 65, a low-budget 1972 film also known as The Limit, co-starring Ted Cassidy as a gang leader who wants to go straight. Kotto also wrote a 1997 episode of Homicide, where an armed suspect took refuge in a house that was headquarters for the African Revival Movement.

In his first TV series, 1983's For Love and Honor, Kotto played a bitter drill sergeant who had once been a boxer, and Keenen Ivory Wayans was the raw training camp recruit who wanted to learn the sport. It was not a comedy, and it was not long before it was cancelled. Kotto had more success as Lt Al Giardello, the gruff, pasta-loving commanding officer in the long-running Homicide: Life on the Street with Richard Belzer and Andre Braugher.

Both his parents were African Jews, and Kotto is devoutly Jewish. For his autobiography, Royalty, Kotto researched his ancestry and determined that he is a Crown Prince of the family that ruled Cameroon's Douala region in the late 19th century.

Father: Njoki Manga Bell Abraham Kotto (Cameroonian crown prince)
Mother: Gladys Marie Kotto
Wife: Rita Dittman (German immigrant, m. 1957, div. 1975, two sons, one daughter)
Daughter: Natascha Kotto (b. 1966)
Son: Fred Kotto (policeman, b. 1968)
Son: Robert Kotto (b. 1971)
Wife: Antoinette Pettyjohn (b. 1947, m. 29-Jan-1975, div. 1988, three daughters)
Daughter: Sarada Kotto (b. 1976)
Daughter: Mirabai Kotto (b. 1978)
Daughter: Salina Kotto (b. 1980)
Girlfriend: Rosemary Gayon (together late 1980s-early 1990s)
Wife: Tessie Sinahon (Filipina immigrant, m. 12-Jul-1998)

    Cameroonian Ancestry

    For Love and Honor Platoon Sgt. James Bell (1983)
    Homicide: Life on the Street Lt. Al Giardello (1993-99)

    Witless Protection (22-Feb-2008)
    Stiletto Dance (8-Jun-2001)
    Homicide: The Movie (13-Feb-2000)
    The Defenders: Payback (12-Oct-1997)
    Two If By Sea (12-Jan-1996) · O'Malley
    Dead Badge (13-Aug-1995)
    Out-of-Sync (2-Jun-1995) · Quincy
    The Puppet Masters (21-Oct-1994)
    The American Clock (23-Aug-1993)
    Extreme Justice (1993) · Larson
    Intent to Kill (Oct-1992)
    Chrome Soldiers (6-May-1992)
    Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (5-Sep-1991) · Doc
    Hangfire (11-Jan-1991)
    After the Shock (12-Sep-1990)
    Midnight Run (20-Jul-1988) · Alonzo Mosely
    The Running Man (13-Nov-1987) · Laughlin
    Prettykill (27-Mar-1987)
    Eye of the Tiger (28-Nov-1986) · J. B. Deveraux
    Harem (9-Feb-1986)
    The Park Is Mine (3-Jan-1986) · Eubanks
    Terminal Entry (1986)
    Badge of the Assassin (2-Nov-1985)
    Warning Sign (23-Aug-1985)
    The Star Chamber (5-Aug-1983) · Det. Harry Lowes
    Fighting Back (21-May-1982) · Ivanhoe Washington
    Brubaker (20-Jun-1980) · Dickie Coombes
    Alien (25-May-1979) · Parker
    Blue Collar (10-Feb-1978) · Smokey
    Roots (23-Jan-1977)
    Raid on Entebbe (9-Jan-1977)
    The Monkey Hustle (24-Dec-1976) · Daddy Foxx
    Drum (30-Jul-1976) · Blaise
    Friday Foster (25-Dec-1975) · Colt Hawkins
    Sharks' Treasure (Apr-1975)
    Report to the Commissioner (5-Feb-1975)
    Truck Turner (19-Apr-1974)
    Live and Let Die (27-Jun-1973) · Kananga
    Across 110th Street (19-Dec-1972) · Lt. Pope
    Bone (Jul-1972) · Bone
    Man and Boy (23-Jun-1971)
    The Liberation of L. B. Jones (18-Mar-1970)
    5 Card Stud (31-Jul-1968)
    The Thomas Crown Affair (19-Jun-1968) · Carl
    Nothing But a Man (19-Sep-1964)

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