By MICHAEL GINGOLD
The actor who brought a memorable intensity to many genres has passed on.
Yaphet Kotto, whose career spanned six decades and nearly 100 films and TV shows, died Sunday night at age 81. Horror fans know him best as Parker, chief engineer of the Nostromo in Ridley Scott’s classic ALIEN–a role he reprised in the 2014 video game ALIEN: ISOLATION, his last credit. Kotto began in theater when he was in his teens, and made his screen debut in 1964’s NOTHING BUT A MAN. A number of television credits followed, along with an appearance in the classic caper film THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, before he took on another of his most popular roles: the villainous Kananga, a.k.a. Mr. Big, in the James Bond adventure LIVE AND LET DIE. He had his first lead as a criminal who invades a wealthy Beverly Hills home in 1972’s BONE, Larry Cohen’s directorial debut, and two years later essayed another memorable baddie in the Isaac Hayes vehicle TRUCK TURNER.
Kotto’s other genre credits include the 1985 biohazard chiller WARNING SIGN, the Stephen King semi-adaptation THE RUNNING MAN alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE as the man who holds the key to destroying Krueger and the alien-invasion thriller THE PUPPET MASTERS. He also had a long-running role on NBC’s HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET. But this writer will always remember him best as the FBI agent (“I’m Mosely!”) relentlessly pursuing Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin in Martin Brest’s classic action film/road comedy MIDNIGHT RUN. RIP, Mr. Kotto.