In between those stage appearances, two movie roles in the 1970s particularly elevated Mr. Kotto’s his profile. The first, in 1973, was in “Live and Let Die,” Roger Moore’s debut as James Bond. Mr. Kotto played his chief nemesis, a dual role in which he was both a corrupt Caribbean dictator and that character’s alter ago, a drug trafficker named Mr. Big.
Then, in 1979, came “Alien,” Ridley Scott’s outer-space horror classic, in which Mr. Kotto’s character, Parker, was part of a spaceship crew doing battle with a nasty extraterrestrial creature.
“The combination punch for my career of ‘Live And Let Die’ and ‘Alien’ was like wham, bam!” he told The Canadian Press in 2003, adding that those wildly different roles showcased his versatility. “I think the only other person who has a combination like that is Harrison Ford.”
Yaphet Frederick Kotto was born on Nov. 15, 1939, in Harlem and grew up in the Bronx. His father, he told The Baltimore Jewish Times in 1995, was from Cameroon and jumped ship as a merchant seaman, ending up in New York; his mother, he said, was of Panamanian and West Indian descent. His father had adopted Judaism, and his mother was Roman Catholic. The couple separated when Mr. Kotto was a child, and he was raised by his maternal grandparents.
Mr. Kotto said his career path was set by a fateful trip to the movies.
“One day, when I was about 16, I walked into this theater showing ‘On the Waterfront’ and I saw Marlon Brando for the first time,” he told The Orange County Register of California in 1994. “I couldn’t speak. It was like somebody had punched me in the stomach. It was like someone had crashed cymbals in both ears. I was blasted out of the theater. I knew from that moment that I wanted to be an actor.”
www.nytimes.com 2021-03-16 22:19:04