Yaphet Kotto, an actor best remembered for playing Bond villain Mr. Big in “Live and Let Die” and his performance in “Alien,” died Sunday at the age of 81.
Kotto’s wife, Tessie Sinahon, confirmed his passing in a Facebook post. Kotto’s agent, Ryan Goldhar, also confirmed his death with Variety and several other media outlets.
Born in Harlem, New York City in 1939, Kotto began his career as a stage actor in the 1950s. His IMDb page says he made his stage debut as the title role in Othello “with very little experience.” He also served as an understudy to James Earl Jones in his Broadway performance of “The Great White Hope.”
Kotto broke barriers in 1973 when he became the first Black man to star as a Bond villain in “Live and Let Die” — the first Bond film to star Roger Moore.
He later delivered a memorable performance in the Oscar-winning film “Alien,” directed by Ridley Scott. He appeared opposite stars Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skeritt.
Kotto worked in Hollywood regularly through the 2000s. He was living in the Philippines at the time of his death.
“You played a villain on some of your movies but for me you’re a real hero and to a lot of people also,” Sinahon wrote. “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 bestfriend, my rock.”