An appearance by Yaphet Kotto was always one of the most memorable parts of any film. At 6-foot-4, he was a commanding presence, whether with a beaming smile or a menacing grimace. He was a James Bond villain and one of the first characters to die from the terrifying xenomorph in “Alien.” His wife confirmed his death in a Facebook announcement.
Kotto may be most-remembered as Lieutenant Al Giardello in his 122-episode run on “Homicide: Life on the Street.” Unfortunately, that NBC drama is not available for streaming. Thankfully, much of his work can be enjoyed on streaming services today.
Kotto was nearly a much, much bigger star. Director Irvin Kershner suggested that Kotto would be a good fit as Lando Calrissian in a little movie called “The Empire Strikes Back.” He passed on that role, afraid that he’d be typecast as a sci-fi actor since he was coming off his role in “Alien.”
He also passed on another iconic sci-fi role. Kotto declined to play Captain Jean-Luc Picard - the role that launched Patrick Stewart to immortality in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” But Kotto always seemed more interested in staying true to his acting roots, rather than chasing stardom.
How to Stream Yaphet Kotto’s Greatest Hits
20 July 1988
An accountant embezzles $15 million of mob money, jumps bail and is chased by bounty hunters, the FBI, and the Mafia.
Kotto is memorable as stern FBI agent Alonzo Mosely, who shows up to hound Robert De Niro as he escorts Charles Grodin across the country.
13 November 1987
By 2017, the global economy has collapsed and U.S. society has become a totalitarian police state, censoring all cultural activity. The government pacifies the populace by broadcasting a number of game shows in which convicted criminals fight for their lives, including the gladiator-style The Running Man, hosted by the ruthless Damon Killian, where “runners” attempt to evade “stalkers” and certain death for a chance to be pardoned and set free.
25 May 1979
The commercial spaceship Nostromo is heading back to Earth when they’re tasked with intercepting a distress signal from a distant planet. The crew discovers a chamber full of seemingly benign eggs. When one hatches unexpectedly, the crew is unaware of the impending nightmare set to descend upon them. Directed by Ridley Scott, this film is the first in the series to feature its most-known protagonist, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver).
Kotto portrays Parker, one of many unlucky members of the Nostromo crew.
10 February 1978
Fed up with mistreatment at the hands of both management and union brass, and coupled with financial hardships on each man’s end, three auto assembly line workers hatch a plan to rob a safe at union headquarters.
Kotto stars with Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor.
26 December 1976
Based on a true Military operation by Israeli commandos. An Air France flight is hijacked by the PFLP. The plane has about 100 Jewish passengers. The plane is grounded in Uganda. Israelis would not negotiate. The movie then shows how less than 500 soldiers actually flew so far and rescued the passengers in one of the most successful Military operations in history. The only casualty for Israeli soldiers was Lt. Col. Jonathan “Yoni” Netanyahu..
Kotto was nominated for an Emmy for his performance as brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
5 July 1973
Roger Moore begins his run as 007 in this very weird movie. James Bond must investigate a mysterious murder case of a British agent in New Orleans. Soon he finds himself up against a gangster boss named Mr. Big (Kotto).