Yaphet Kotto (1939–2021)

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Physically imposing, intense Yaphet Kotto was one of the few actors of his generation to succeed in breaking racial stereotypes in Hollywood. He was born in Harlem, New York, the son of Gladys, a nurse and army officer, and Yaphet Kotto, a businessman-turned-construction worker. His father was a Cameroonian immigrant, of royal ancestry (his great ... See full bio »


(age 81) in Manila, Philippines

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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »


Known For

Alien Parker
Midnight Run Alonzo Mosely
Live and Let Die Kananga / Mr. Big


Hide Hide Show Show Actor (95 credits)
 2014 Alien: Isolation (Video Game)
Parker (voice)
 2008 Witless Protection
Ricardo Bodi
 2004 The Wire (TV Series)
Meeting Man
- Amsterdam (2004) ... Meeting Man (uncredited)
 2001 Stiletto Dance (TV Movie)
Captain Rick Sands
 2000 The Ride (TV Movie)
 2000 Homicide: The Movie (TV Movie)
Al 'Gee' Giardello
 1993-1999 Homicide: Life on the Street (TV Series)
Al Giardello
- Forgive Us Our Trespasses (1999) ... Al Giardello
- The Why Chromosome (1999) ... Al Giardello
- Lines of Fire (1999) ... Al Giardello (credit only)
- Identity Crisis (1999) ... Al Giardello
- Self Defense (1999) ... Al Giardello
 1997 Law & Order (TV Series)
Al Giardello
- Baby, It's You (1997) ... Al Giardello
 1997 The Defenders: Payback (TV Movie)
Judge Williams
 1996 Almost Blue
 1996 The Great War: 1914-1918 (TV Mini Series documentary)
Kaphe Kamar
- Total War (1996) ... Kaphe Kamar (voice)
 1996 Two If by Sea
FBI Agent O'Malley
 1995 Out-of-Sync
 1995 Dead Badge
Captain Hunt
 1994 The Puppet Masters
 1994 The Corpse Had a Familiar Face (TV Movie)
Detective Martin Talbot
 1993 SeaQuest 2032 (TV Series)
Captain Jack Clayton
- Treasures of the Tonga Trench (1993) ... Captain Jack Clayton
 1993 The American Clock (TV Movie)
 1993 Extreme Justice
 1993 It's Nothing Personal (TV Movie)
Lt. Riley
 1992 Intent to Kill (Video)
Captain Jackson
 1992 Chrome Soldiers (TV Movie)
Perry Beach
 1991-1992 The Trials of Rosie O'Neill (TV Series)
ADA Kelley / Kelly
- Lady Luck (1992) ... ADA Kelley
- A Conflict of Interest (1991) ... Kelly
 1992 Civil Wars (TV Series)
Judge Louis Decker
- Pro Se Can You See (1992) ... Judge Louis Decker
 1991 Hangfire
Police Lieutenant
 1990 After the Shock (TV Movie)
William McElroy
 1990 Father Dowling Mysteries (TV Series)
Lt. Fleming
- The Stone Killer Mystery (1990) ... Lt. Fleming
 1989 Tripwire
Lee Pitt
 1989 Ministry of Vengeance
Mr. Whiteside
 1989 Prime Target (TV Movie)
Gilmore Brown
 1989 A Whisper to a Scream
Jules Tallard
 1989 The Jigsaw Murders
Doctor Fillmore
 1988 Midnight Run
Alonzo Mosely
 1987 Murder, She Wrote (TV Series)
Lt. Bradshaw
- Steal Me a Story (1987) ... Lt. Bradshaw
 1987 Perry Mason: The Case of the Scandalous Scoundrel (TV Movie)
General Sorenson
 1987 The Running Man
 1987 Terminal Entry
Col. Styles
 1987 In Self Defense (TV Movie)
Lt. Tyrell
 1987 Desperado (TV Movie)
 1987 Tomorrow's a Killer
 1986 Eye of the Tiger
J.B. Deveraux
 1986 Harem (TV Movie)
Agha Kislar
 1985 Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV Series)
- Prisoners (1985) ... Convict
 1985 Badge of the Assassin (TV Movie)
Detective Cliff Fenton NYPD
 1985 The Park Is Mine (TV Movie)
 1985 Hill Street Blues (TV Series)
Calvin Matthias
- Blues in the Night (1985) ... Calvin Matthias
 1985 Warning Sign
Major Connolly
 1985 Playing with Fire (TV Movie)
Fire Chief Walker
 1983-1984 For Love and Honor (TV Series)
Platoon Sgt. James "China" Bell / Platoon Sgt. James 'China' Bell
- The Real Thing (1984) ... Platoon Sgt. James 'China' Bell
- Bloodline (1984) ... Platoon Sgt. James 'China' Bell
- The Price of Dreams (1983) ... Platoon Sgt. James "China" Bell
- Mixed Signals (1983) ... Platoon Sgt. James "China" Bell
- Team Work (1983) ... Platoon Sgt. James "China" Bell
 1983 Women of San Quentin (TV Movie)
Sgt. Therman Patterson
 1983 For Love and Honor (TV Movie)
Sgt. China Bell
 1983 The Star Chamber
Detective Harry Lowes
 1983 The A-Team (TV Series)
Charles 'East-Side Charlie' F. Struthers
- The Out-of-Towners (1983) ... Charles 'East-Side Charlie' F. Struthers
 1983 Fantasy Island (TV Series)
Big Gus Belly
 1982/I Fighting Back
Ivanhoe Washington
 1982 A House Divided: Denmark Vessey's Rebellion (TV Movie)
Denmark Vessey
 1980 Othello
 1980 Rage! (TV Movie)
 1980 Brubaker
Richard 'Dickie' Coombes
 1979 Alien
 1978 Blue Collar
 1976 Crunch (TV Movie)
 1976 Raid on Entebbe (TV Movie)
President Idi Amin Jr.
 1976 The Monkey Hu$tle
Daddy Foxx
 1976 Drum
 1975 Friday Foster
Colt Hawkins
 1975 Doctors' Hospital (TV Series)
Dr. Perry Wells
- Knives of Chance (1975) ... Dr. Perry Wells
 1975 Sharks' Treasure
Ben Flynn
 1975 Report to the Commissioner
Richard 'Crunch' Blackstone
 1974 Truck Turner
 1973 Live and Let Die
Kananga / Mr. Big
 1972 Across 110th Street
Lt. Pope
 1972 The Limit
Mark Johnson
 1972 Bone
 1971 Night Gallery (TV Series)
Buckner (segment "The Messiah on Mott Street")
- The Messiah on Mott Street/The Painted Mirror (1971) ... Buckner (segment "The Messiah on Mott Street")
 1971 Man and Boy
 1970 Night Chase (TV Movie)
Ernie Green
 1970 Gunsmoke (TV Series)
Piney Biggs
- The Scavengers (1970) ... Piney Biggs
 1970 The Name of the Game (TV Series)
Wyman Jackson
- The Time Is Now (1970) ... Wyman Jackson
 1970 The Liberation of L.B. Jones
Sonny Boy Mosby
 1968-1969 Daniel Boone (TV Series)
Jonah / Luke
- Jonah (1969) ... Jonah
- Big, Black and Out There (1968) ... Luke
 1969 Mannix (TV Series)
Gabe Johnson / Gabriel Dillon
- Death in a Minor Key (1969) ... Gabe Johnson / Gabriel Dillon
 1969 Hawaii Five-O (TV Series)
LCpl. John T. Auston
- King of the Hill (1969) ... LCpl. John T. Auston
 1968 The High Chaparral (TV Series)
Sgt. Major Creason
- The Buffalo Soldiers (1968) ... Sgt. Major Creason
 1968 Bonanza (TV Series)
Child Barnett
- Child (1968) ... Child Barnett
 1968 5 Card Stud
Little George
 1966-1967 The Big Valley (TV Series)
Damien / Lobo Brown
- The Buffalo Man (1967) ... Damien
- The Iron Box (1966) ... Lobo Brown
 1967 Tarzan (TV Series)
- Thief Catcher (1967) ... Kesho
 1967 Cowboy in Africa (TV Series)
- Incident at Derati Wells (1967) ... Musa
 1967 Death Valley Days (TV Series)
- A Man Called Abraham (1967) ... Abraham
 1967 NBC Experiment in Television (TV Series)
- Losers Weepers (1967) ... Grandfather
 1964 Nothing But a Man
Show Show Writer (2 credits)
Show Show Director (1 credit)
Show Show Producer (1 credit)
Show Show Soundtrack (1 credit)
Show Show Thanks (6 credits)
Show Show Self (17 credits)
Show Show Archive footage (22 credits)

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Personal Details

Other Works:

He acted in August Wilson's play, "Fences," at the Garrick Theatre in London, England with Tyrone Huggins and Adrian Lester in the cast. See more »

Publicity Listings:

2 Interviews | 2 Articles | 1 Pictorial | See more »

Official Sites:



6' 4" (1.93 m)


Tessie Sinahon  (his death) | See more »


Kotto, Avraham | Kotto, Gladys Marie

Did You Know?

Personal Quote:

[on filming Alien (1979)] All of the scenes were challenging, particularly when you know you have to act against sets that were huge. The special effects determined where you could walk. Then you ask yourself how can you survive in acting against a monster. Will you be remembered? Ridley Scott was cool. He gave us a ninety-page outline detailing each of our characters and then he disappeared ... See more »


Within a week of the divorce from his first wife Rita, he married Antoinette Pettyjohn. See more »


Often played police detectives and military officers See more »

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