James Bond villain Yaphet Kotto dies aged 81 as his family pay tribute

James Bond star Yaphet Kotto, who played the first black 007 villain in 1973’s Live And Let Die, has passed away aged 81.

The death of the actor – who starred alongside the late Roger Moore as Mr Big/Dr Kananga in the 007 film – was announced by his wife Sinahon Thessa on Tuesday.     

She wrote: ‘I’m saddened and still in shocked of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years… 

‘This is a very painful moment for me to inform you all fans, friends and family of my husband.

RIP: James Bond actor Yaphet Kotto, who played the first black 007 villain in 1973's Live And Let Die, has passed away aged 81 (pictured with Roger Moore in the film)

RIP: James Bond actor Yaphet Kotto, who played the first black 007 villain in 1973's Live And Let Die, has passed away aged 81 (pictured with Roger Moore in the film)

RIP: James Bond actor Yaphet Kotto, who played the first black 007 villain in 1973’s Live And Let Die, has passed away aged 81 (pictured with Roger Moore in the film)

‘You still have plan to release your book and build a religious organization based on Yogananda’s Teachings. 

‘You played a villain on some of your movies but for me you’re a real hero and to a lot of people also. 

‘A good man, a good father, a good husband and a decent human being, very rare to find.   

‘One of the best actor in Hollywood a Legend. Rest in Peace Honey, I’m gonna miss you everyday, my best friend, my rock.

‘I love you and you will always be in my heart. Till we meet again.’

Iconic: Off the back of his success in James Bond, he was cast as chief engineer Parker in iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien in 1979 (pictured)

Iconic: Off the back of his success in James Bond, he was cast as chief engineer Parker in iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien in 1979 (pictured)

Iconic: Off the back of his success in James Bond, he was cast as chief engineer Parker in iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien in 1979 (pictured)

Legend: The death of the actor - who starred alongside the late Roger Moore as Mr Big/Dr Kananga in the 007 film - was announced by his wife on Tuesday (pictured 2004)

Legend: The death of the actor - who starred alongside the late Roger Moore as Mr Big/Dr Kananga in the 007 film - was announced by his wife on Tuesday (pictured 2004)

Legend: The death of the actor – who starred alongside the late Roger Moore as Mr Big/Dr Kananga in the 007 film – was announced by his wife on Tuesday (pictured 2004)

A cause of death was not revealed. 

Yaphet was married three times and is survived by six children.

The American actor’s most famous role was that of the Bond villain in the iconic 1973 film where he played Harlem drug lord, Mr Big, who plans to distribute two tons of heroin for free, to put dealers out of business. 

However, Mr Big is revealed to be the alter-ego of corrupt Caribbean dictator, Dr Kananga, who rules over the fictional island of San Monique. 

He became the first black actor to portray a James Bond villain but later said he was banned from promoting the film because movie bosses were wary of the encouraging a negative perception to a black villain. 

Shaken, not stirred: The American actor's most famous role was that of the Bond villain in the iconic 1973 film where he played Harlem drug lord, Mr Big

Shaken, not stirred: The American actor's most famous role was that of the Bond villain in the iconic 1973 film where he played Harlem drug lord, Mr Big

Shaken, not stirred: The American actor’s most famous role was that of the Bond villain in the iconic 1973 film where he played Harlem drug lord, Mr Big

Horror: Off the back of his success in James Bond, he was cast as chief engineer Parker in iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien in 1979 (above)

Horror: Off the back of his success in James Bond, he was cast as chief engineer Parker in iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien in 1979 (above)

Horror: Off the back of his success in James Bond, he was cast as chief engineer Parker in iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien in 1979 (above)

He told the Independent: ‘They didn’t play my character up. That hurt me a lot, man. 

‘I went through a lot of goddamn emotional hell because they were afraid people would be angry that a black guy was not being Sidney Poitier. I was the opposite of everything he created.’ 

Yaphet also starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 sci-fi film, The Running Man, as resistance fighter William Laughlin.

Off the back of his success in James Bond, he was cast as chief engineer Parker in iconic sci-fi horror film, Alien in 1979. His character met a memorably grisly demise when he was killed by the Alien as he collected oxygen tanks.

 Yaphet once revealed he turned down the role of Lando Calrissian in Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back, over fears he would be typecast in sci-fi films.   

Cult classic: Yaphet also starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 sci-fi film, The Running Man, as resistance fighter William Laughlin

Cult classic: Yaphet also starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 sci-fi film, The Running Man, as resistance fighter William Laughlin

Cult classic: Yaphet also starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 sci-fi film, The Running Man, as resistance fighter William Laughlin

Classic: As well as his stellar movie roles, the star was known for his starring role in police procedural drama, Homicide: Life on the Street, in which he played Al Giardello from 1993-1999

Classic: As well as his stellar movie roles, the star was known for his starring role in police procedural drama, Homicide: Life on the Street, in which he played Al Giardello from 1993-1999

Classic: As well as his stellar movie roles, the star was known for his starring role in police procedural drama, Homicide: Life on the Street, in which he played Al Giardello from 1993-1999 

He also turned down the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, an iconic role which went to Patrick Stewart.

Yaphet later said he regretted declining the role, saying: ‘I think I made some wrong decisions in my life, man. I should have done that but I walked away. 

‘When you’re making movies, you’d tend to say no to TV. It’s like when you’re in college and someone asks you to the high school dance. You say no.’

The actor also claimed to be related to Queen Elizabeth II, naming his 1997 biography ‘The Royalty’ in honour of his supposed royal lineage.  

The star appeared opposite Robert De Niro in the comedy thriller Midnight Run (1988) as FBI Agent Alonzo Mosley. 

Stellar: He received an Emmy nomination for playing Ugandan strongman Idi Amin in the TV movie, Raid on Entebbe

Stellar: He received an Emmy nomination for playing Ugandan strongman Idi Amin in the TV movie, Raid on Entebbe

Stellar: He received an Emmy nomination for playing Ugandan strongman Idi Amin in the TV movie, Raid on Entebbe

As well as his stellar movie roles, the star was known for his starring role in police procedural drama, Homicide: Life on the Street, in which he played Al Giardello from 1993-1999.

He received an Emmy nomination for playing Ugandan strongman Idi Amin in the TV movie, Raid on Entebbe.

The NYC-born star began studying acting at the  Actors Mobile Theater Studio aged 16, making his professional acting debut in Othello aged 19.

He got his start in acting on Broadway, where he appeared in many productions, including The Great White Hope.   

He returned to the ‘Alien’ franchise in 2014, voicing his character Parker in the survival horror video game ‘Alien: Isolation.’ 

Early role: He played Little George alongside Robert Mitchum's The Rev. Jonathan Rudd in 1968's Five Card Stud

Early role: He played Little George alongside Robert Mitchum's The Rev. Jonathan Rudd in 1968's Five Card Stud

Early role: He played Little George alongside Robert Mitchum’s The Rev. Jonathan Rudd in 1968’s Five Card Stud

Tribute: Director Ava DuVernay also paid tribute to the iconic actor

Tribute: Director Ava DuVernay also paid tribute to the iconic actor

Tribute: Director Ava DuVernay also paid tribute to the iconic actor 

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