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Yaphet Kotto, a Black actor, was born on this date in 1937.
Yaphet Frederick Kotto was born in New York Cit. His father was an Igbo Jewish man from Cameroon and Kotto is a practicing Jew by faith. His father was royalty in Cameroon, making Yaphet the son of the Crown Prince of the Royal Bell family of the Doualla region of West Africa's Cameroon.
He recently claimed to have uncovered proof that he is the great-great-great-grandson of Britain's Queen Victoria. According to Kotto, the queen's son Prince Albert Edward VII had an illicit affair with Princess Nakande, daughter of King Doualla Manga Bell, producing the light-skinned Alexander Bell, Kotto's great-grandfather, but the deputy press secretary to Queen Elizabeth categorically refuted the story saying, "... Edward VII never visited Cameroon."
Kotto got his start in acting on Broadway, where he appeared in "The Great White Hope," among other productions. His film debut was in 1963 in an unaccredited role in "4 For Texas,: but his first big break came in "Nothing But a Man" in 1964. Later, he landed the role of the James Bond villain Mr. Big in "Live and Let Die," as well as roles in Across 110th Street and Truck Turner.
He also starred as an auto worker in "Blue Collar." The following year he played one of his best-known roles, as Parker in the successful film "Alien." He also played Baltimore police Lieutenant Al Giardello in the television series "Homicide: Life on the Street."
Kotto's first marriage was to a German immigrant, Rita Ingrid Dittman, whom he married in 1959. They had three children together before divorcing in 1976. A week after his divorce, Kotto married Toni Pettyjohn, and they also had three children together, before divorcing in 1989. Kotto married his third wife, Tessie Sinahon, on July 12, 1998. Kotto’s son Fredrick is a police officer with the city of San Jose, CA.
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