Website last updated: 7-5-2024

Steven Jay Rubin celebrates Yaphet Kotto on his 81st birthday

By: Steven Jay Rubin
Yaphet Kotto Dr. Kananga Mr Big Live and Let Die
The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia presents This Day in James Bond Movie History - wishing a very Happy Birthday to Live and Let Die (1973) actor Yaphet Kotto, a magnificent morsel in the Bond villain buffet.

Yaphet Kotto portrayed mild-mannered island diplomat Dr. Kananga who secretly is cultivating an enormous poppy field on fictional San Monique – transporting that potent drug to the nefarious empire of gruff Harlem drug kingpin, Mr. Big (who is Kananga in disguise).

For his third James Bond film, director Guy Hamilton brought considerable atmosphere to an island adventure that strays into voodoo and clairvoyant territory.

Yaphet brings an understated grace to Kananga – which disguises the evil he’s bringing to bear.

He’s also surrounded by bigger than life henchmen – Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder), Tee-Hee (Julius W. Harris), Whisper (Earl Jolly Brown), and, of course, his resident seer – Solitaire (Jane Seymour).

Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Tommy Lane and Roger Moore during the filming of Live and Let Die
Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Tommy Lane and Roger Moore during the filming of Live and Let Die. Copyright © 1973 Danjaq S.A. & United Artists Corporation. All rights reserved.

I also enjoyed Yaphet’s performances as one of the crew in the original Alien (1979) directed by Ridley Scott, and as the FBI counterpart to Robert De Niro in the cool crime drama Midnight Run (1988).

So let’s hoist a rum punch to Yaphet Kotto on this the anniversary of his birth.

All text. Copyright © 2020 Steven Jay Rubin. All rights reserved.



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