Yaphet Kotto Left Behind a Long Acting Legacy and a Family of Six Children


Mar. 16 2021, Updated 12:18 p.m. ET

Although you might not know him by name, Yaphet Kotto was one of the most prolific character actors during his prime period working in Hollywood. He had starring roles in films like Alien and Live and Let Die, and he also had a central role in Homicide: Life on the Street. Yaphet died recently at the age of 81, and many are now learning more about the legacy that he left behind. 

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Did Yaphet Kotto have any children?

Yaphet was married three times over the course of his life. His first marriage was to a German immigrant named Rita Ingrid Dittman in 1959. This was before Yaphet had made his big-screen debut, although the couple remained together well into his period of stardom. They divorced in 1976, but not before they had three children together. 

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Who is Yaphet's current wife?

After his divorce from Rita, Yaphet married Tony Pettyjohn, and the two of them also had three children together. They got divorced in 1989, and Yaphet married Tessie Sinahon, his third wife, almost a decade later. The two of them remained together until his death. Tessie is from the Philippines, which is where the actor was when he died.  

What was Yaphet's cause of death?

Tessie announced Yaphet's death in a post on Facebook. "He died last night around 10:30 p.m. Philippine time," she said. "This is a very painful moment for me to inform you all fans, friends, and family of my husband." 

"You played a villain on some of your movies but for me you're a real hero and to a lot of people also. A good man, a good father, a good husband, and a decent human being, very rare to find," she continued. 

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Yaphet's cause of death was not included in Tessie's statement and remains unknown. Given his relatively old age, it could have come from any number of things. For now, though, that piece of the story around Yaphet's death remains a mystery. 

As an actor from an early age, Yaphet's success in the world of film and TV paved the way for many of the Black actors who came after him. 

Source: Facebook
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Yaphet began acting when he was still a teenager.

Born in New York City in 1939, Yaphet was studying at the Actors Mobile Theatre Studio by the time he was 16. Just three years later, at the age of 19, Yaphet made his stage debut in Othello. He did work as an extra and minor supporting player throughout the 1960s and got his first major role in 1972's Across 110th Street. Just a year later, he was playing the main villain in a James Bond film. 

After his role in Live and Let Die, he continued to find success in key lead and supporting parts throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Eventually, he established himself as a television star on Homicide: Life on the Street. He entered a semi-retired period for most of the new millennium, filming his last movie, Witness Protection, in 2008. 

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