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Yaphet Kotto, a Black actor, was born on this date in 1937.
Yaphet Frederick Kotto was born in New York City. His father was an Igbo Jewish man from Cameroon, and Kotto was a practicing Jew by faith. His father was royalty, making Yaphet the son of the Crown Prince of the Royal Bell family of the Douala region of West Africa's Cameroon.
He claimed to have uncovered proof that he was 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 Douala Manga Bell, producing the light-skinned Alexander Bell, Kotto's great-grandfather. Still, the deputy press secretary to Queen Elizabeth categorically refuted the story, saying, "... Edward VII never visited Cameroon."
Kotto started 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 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.
He married his third wife, Tessie Sinahon, on July 12, 1998, and his son Fredrick is a police officer in San Jose, CA. Yaphet Kotto Died on March 14, 2021, at 81, in the Philippines.