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Yaphet Kotto

Yaphet Kotto

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Also Known As: Yaphet Frederick Kotto Died:
Born: November 15, 1937 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor, screenwriter, producer, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A commanding presence in features and television since the early 1970s, Yaphet Kotto played physically powerful, often intimidating African-American men in such popular films as "Live and Let Die" (1973), "Blue Collar" (1978), "Alien" (1979) and "Midnight Run" (1988). He emerged from the New York stage in the early 1960s, working steadily in small but significant roles in features like "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1967) before moving up to supporting roles and leads in "Across 110th Street" (1971). His star-making turn came as the villainous Dr. Kananga in "Live and Let Die" (1973), which marked Roger Moore's debut as James Bond and preceded a long run as a popular character actor in such major features as "Alien" (1979) and "Brubaker" (1980). Kotto was stranded in minor-league acting features for much of the 1980s, though he rebounded in the early 1990s as the formidable Lt. Al Giardello on the critically acclaimed "Homicide: Life on the Street" (NBC, 1993-2000). Throughout his long and varied career, Kotto's performances were marked by an unerring sense of gravity, honesty and intelligence, which served him well in avoiding many of the career pitfalls suffered by African-American actors. ...

A commanding presence in features and television since the early 1970s, Yaphet Kotto played physically powerful, often intimidating African-American men in such popular films as "Live and Let Die" (1973), "Blue Collar" (1978), "Alien" (1979) and "Midnight Run" (1988). He emerged from the New York stage in the early 1960s, working steadily in small but significant roles in features like "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1967) before moving up to supporting roles and leads in "Across 110th Street" (1971). His star-making turn came as the villainous Dr. Kananga in "Live and Let Die" (1973), which marked Roger Moore's debut as James Bond and preceded a long run as a popular character actor in such major features as "Alien" (1979) and "Brubaker" (1980). Kotto was stranded in minor-league acting features for much of the 1980s, though he rebounded in the early 1990s as the formidable Lt. Al Giardello on the critically acclaimed "Homicide: Life on the Street" (NBC, 1993-2000). Throughout his long and varied career, Kotto's performances were marked by an unerring sense of gravity, honesty and intelligence, which served him well in avoiding many of the career pitfalls suffered by African-American actors.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  The Limit (1972) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Stiletto Dance (2001) Captain Rick
3.
 Homicide: The Movie (2000) Lieutenant Al Giardello
4.
 Defenders, The: Payback (1997) Judge Williams
5.
 Two If by Sea (1996) O'Malley
6.
 Out of Sync (1995)
7.
8.
9.
 Dead Badge (1994)
10.
 Puppet Masters, The (1994) Ressler
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1953:
Began studying the performing arts at the Actor's Mobile Theater Studio
1956:
Made professional debut in title role of "Othello"
1964:
Film debut, Richard Roemer's "Nothing But a Man"
1968:
Received raves for his role in William Wyler's "The Liberation of L.B. Jones"
1972:
Feature directing debut, "The Limit" (also produced and starred in this movie written from his story)
1973:
Played the drug-dealing nemesis of Roger Moore's 007 in "Live and Let Die"
1977:
Portrayed Idi Amin in the acclaimed NBC TV-movie, "Raid on Entebbe"; received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actor
1979:
Portrayed a doomed crewmember in "Alien"
1983:
First regular series role in the short-lived NBC drama "Love and Honor"
1988:
Cast as an inept FBI lead man in "Midnight Run" co-starring Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin
1990:
Starred in the Washington, DC and London stage productions of the acclaimed August Wilson play, "Fences"
1993:
Played Lieutenant Al Giardello in the popular NBC series "Homicide: Life on the Street"; also scripted an episode
1996:
Had another turn as an FBI agent in "Two if by Sea" starring Sandra Bullock and Denis Leary
1997:
Published <i>Royalty</i>, an autobiography linking him to the British royal family
2008:
Cast in the comedy "Witless Protection" starring Larry The Cable Guy
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

About his alleged relationship to the Windsors: "Prince Albert Edward did have an affair with one of my relatives. My great-grandfather, Alexander Bell, looks like a white man. He's the real, documented proof that some hanky-panky was going on. It was something that should have never happened. I wish if we had someone from the British royal family in ours, it was someone of dignity and class, and not a drunkard and a whore-monger as the Prince was."--Yaphet Kotto, NEW YORK POST, March 9, 1997

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Rita Dittman. German immigrant; married c. 1957; divorced c. 1975; has three children with Kotto.
wife:
Antoinette Pettyjohn. Flight attendant. Born c. 1947; married on January 29, 1975, reportedly within a week of Kotto's divorce from Dittman; seperated c. 1988; has three children with Kotto.
companion:
Rosemary Gayon. Born c. 1967; engaged to be married summer 1994; no longer together.
wife:
Tessie Sinahon. Former cook. Filipina; born c. 1969; together from 1992; married in a civil ceremony in 1997; remarried on July 12, 1998 in a religious ceremony.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

great-great-great-grandmother:
Queen Victoria. According to 15 years of research revealed in Kotto's autobiography "Royalty".
great-grandfather:
Alexander Bell. King. Ruled the Douala region of Cameroon in the late 19th century.
father:
Abraham Kotto. Construction worker. Immigrated from Cameroon to New York in the 1920s; changed his name from Njoki Manga Bell when he arrived in New York from Cameroon; converted to Judaism while in Cameroon; divorced Kotto's mother c. 1940.
mother:
Gladys Marie Kotto. Nurse, army officer. Divorced Kotto's father c. 1940.
daughter:
Natascha Kotto. Lawyer. Born c. 1966; mother Rita Dittman.
son:
Frederick Kotto. Stockbroker. Born c. 1968; mother Rita Dittman.
son:
Robert Kotto. Police officer. Born c. 1971; mother Rita Dittman.
daughter:
Sarada Kotto. Born c. 1976; mother Toni Pettyjohn.
daughter:
Mirabai Kotto. Born c. 1978; mother Toni Pettyjohn.
daughter:
Salina Kotto. Born c, 1980; mother Toni Pettyjohn.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Slow Dance in the Promised Land" Ahimsa Publishing Corporation
"Royalty" Caudwell/Bissell

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