Yaphet Kotto Biography

Yaphet Frederick Kotto was an American actor who was famously known for starring as Lieutenant Al Giardello in the NBC television series Homicide: Life on the Street and horror film Alien as Parker, the chief engineer. Yaphet died on March 15, 2021, in the Philippines, the cause of death remaining unknown.

Early life

Yaphet Frederick Kotto was born as Fredrick S. Kotto on November 15, 1939, in New York City, New York, United States to mother Gladys Marie and father Avraham Kotto. His mother was a nurse and a U.S Army officer and his father, whose original name according to Kotto is Njoki Manga Bell, was a business from Cameroon who immigrated to the United States in the 1920s. His parents got divorced when he was only 3 years old and when his mother re-married, he had three had-sisters named Antoinette Gilyard, sisters Deborah, and younger sister Leontine Gilyard.

By the time Kotto turned 16, he was already enrolled in an acting school called the Actors Mobile Theatre Studio and by the time he was 19, Kotto made his professional debut. He was also a member of Actors Studio in New York.

Yaphet Kotto Career

Kotto’s career started off when he was 19, that is when he made his professional debut in Othello. Soon he began acting on Broadway where he was on many productions one of them being Great White Hope. In 1963, he made his film debut aged 23 in 4 for Texas and played a supporting role in the caper film The Thomas Crown Affair. Then in 1973 he was seen on the sets of Live and Let Die where he played James Bond villain, Mr. Big. Subsequently, he played roles in Across 110th Street, Truck Turner, and the television film Raid on Entebbe. In 1983, Kotto started as an autoworker in the 1978 film Blue Collar and the same following year he started off as Parker in the scientific-horror film Alien, through which he received a lot of recognition.

Around the same, he played a supporting role in the 1980 drama Brubaker and guest-starred in an episode of The A-Team. Kotto’s other notable work was seen in the movie The Running Man, action-comedy Midnight Run which also starred Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin. Kotto portrayed the role of Lieutenant Al Giardello in the long-running television series Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993-1999 through which he gained enough recognition.

Yaphet Kotto Biography

Real Name Yaphet Frederick Kotto
Birth Date November 15, 1939
Age 81 Years
Birth Place New York City, USA
Nationality American
Profession Actor
Religion Christianity
Sun sign Scorpio

Physical Statistics

Height in feet inches – 6’ 4” – in Centimetres – 193 cm
Weight in Kilograms – 112 kg  –  in Pounds –  248 lbs
Chest Size 44 Inches
Waist Size 34 Inches
Shoe Size 10 (U.S.)
Hair Color Black
Eye Color Black
Body Type Average


Father Avraham Kotto
Mother Gladys Marie
Sister NA
Brother NA


School Catholic school
College Actor’s Mobile Theatre Studio

Relationship Status

Marital Status Married
Affair No
Rita Dittman (m. 1959; div. 1976)
Toni Pettyjohn
(m. 1975; div. 1989)
Tessie Sinahon (m. 1998)
Children 6

Personal life

Kotto has been married thrice, his first marriage was to a German immigrant, Rita Ingrid Dittman, whom he married in 1959 and had three children together whose names have not been disclosed. In 1976, Kotto got divorced from Rita and married Toni Pettyjohn with whom again he had three children before getting divorced in 1989. Kotto has kept his children away from limelight and media attention but his one son, Fred Kotto, is a successful officer in the San José Police Department. Apparently, the American actor did not have any official social media accounts. He kept his personal life private.

Cause of Death

Kotto then married his third wife named Tessie Sinahon on July 12, 1998, and were still together till the time Kotto died on March 15, 2021, in the Philippines. Tessie even shared a Facebook post regarding her husband’s death but did not reveal the cause of the same. Currently, the cause of death of Kotto is unknown and remains a mystery to the world. The news of his passing away was shared by his wife, Tessie through her Facebook account where no details of his death were mentioned.

Yaphet Kotto Net worth

Yaphet has been in the film and television industry since 1963, that is when he was a teenager. Since then, he has set a well-established name for himself by working on some blockbuster projects. Apart from acting, Kotto was also a record producer, director, voice artist, and writer. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated to be around $5 million US Dollars. according to his wife’s Facebook post, Kotto was also thinking of releasing his book.


  • He was considered for the role of Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek, the role which was eventually played by Patrick Stewart.
  • In 1967, Kotto released a single through Chisa Records, titled “Have You Ever Seen The Blues” / “Have You Dug His Scene”.
  • His father was a Cameroonian crown prince.
  • He is the author of The Royalty: A Spiritual Awakening published in 1999.
  • Kotto who died at the age of 81 on March 15, 2021, in the Philippines, the cause of death not known.

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