Yaphet Kotto, the actor known for his role in "Alien" and as James Bond villain Mr. Big in "Live and Let Die," has died at age 81, his wife announced on Facebook. "He died last night around 10:30pm Philippine time. This is a very painful moment for me to inform you all fans, friends and family of my husband," Tessie Sinahon wrote.
It's unclear what caused Kotto's death.
He was born in New York City in 1939 and, by age 16, was studying at Actors Mobile Theater Studio. He made his stage debut at age 19 in "Othello."
Kotto's first big film role came in 1972 as Lieutenant Pope in "Across 110th Street." One year later, Kotto became the first Black Bond villain.
"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," Sinahon said.
Kotto's work as Smokey James in 1978's "Blue Collar" and technician Dennis Parker in 1979's "Alien" earned him much acclaim, as did his longstanding run as Lieutenant Al Giardello in the TV series "Homicide: Life on the Street" from 1993 to 2000. He was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series in 1996 and every year after that until 1999.
Kotto made his final film appearance in 2008 as Ricardo Bodi in "Witless Protection." He is survived by Sinahon and six children.