Yaphet Kotto

A commanding presence in features and television since the early 1970s, Yaphet Kotto played physically powerful, often intimidating African-American men in such popular films as "Live and Let Die" (1973), "Blue Collar" (1978), "Alien" (1979) and "Midnight Run" (1988). He emerged from the New York stage in the early 1960s, working steadily in small but significant roles in features like "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1967) before moving up to supporting roles and leads in "Across 110th Street" (1971). His star-making turn came as the villainous Dr. Kananga in "Live and Let Die" (1973), which marked Roger Moore's debut as James Bond and preceded a long run as a popular character actor in such major features as "Alien" (1979) and "Brubaker" (1980). Kotto was stranded in minor-league acting features for much of the 1980s, though he rebounded in the early 1990s as the formidable Lt. Al Giardello on the critically acclaimed "Homicide: Life on the Street" (NBC, 1993-2000). Throughout his long and varied career, Kotto's performances were marked by an unerring sense of gravity, honesty and intelligence, which served him well in avoiding many of the career pitfalls suffered by African-American actors.