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Yaphet Kotto (1939–2021), star of “Alien,” “Homicide: Life on the Street”

by Linnea Crowther

Yaphet Kotto was an actor whose notable roles include engineer Parker in the sci-fi classic “Alien” and Lieutenant Al Giardello in TV’s “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

Movie and TV career

Kotto’s early films include “4 for Texas” (1963) and “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1968) before he was cast as the villainous Dr. Kanaga and his alter-ego, Mr. Big, in the 1973 James Bond film “Live and Let Die.” In 1976, he starred in the TV movie “Raid on Entebbe,” playing Ugandan despot Idi Amin, earning a Primetime Emmy nomination for his performance. In 1988, Kotto starred as FBI agent Alinzo Mosley in “Midnight Run.” Kotto had many notable TV guest roles, including on “The High Chapparal,” “Night Gallery,” “The A-Team,” and “Murder She Wrote,” before landing a starring role on “Homicide: Life on the Street” in 1993. He played Lieutenant Al Giardello for the show’s entire seven-season run and reprised his role in the 2000 TV movie “Homicide: The Movie.” Kotto also wrote scripts for “Homicide: Life on the Street.” Most recently, he appeared in the 2008 film “Witless Protection” and voiced Parker in the 2014 video game “Alien: Isolation.”

Kotto on playing aggressive characters

“I want to try to play a much more sensitive man. A family man. There is an aspect of Black people’s lives that is not running or jumping.” —from a 1993 interview with the Baltimore Sun


Tributes to Yaphet Kotto

Full obituary: The New York Times

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