Getty Images

Character actor Yaphet Kotto, best known for starring as a villain kingpin in James Bond film Live and Let Die, has passed away. He was 81.

Kotto's wife Tessie Sinahon broke the news on Facebook on Monday night, March 15. She wrote:

"I'm saddened and still in shocked of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years. He died last night around 10:30pm Philippine time... 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. One of the best actor in Hollywood a Legend. Rest in Peace Honey, I’m gonna miss you everyday, my best friend, my rock."

Kotto got his start in acting on Broadway, where he appeared in The Great White Hope, among other productions in the 1960s.

In 1967 he released a single, "Have You Ever Seen The Blues" / "Have You Dug His Scene" on Chisa Records.

United Archives via Getty Images

He transitioned from Broadway to blaxploitation films such as 1973's Friday Foster, alongside Pam Grier, before major Hollywood studios came calling.

As well as starring in Live and Let Die - pulling double duty as dictator Dr. Kananga and his alter ego Mr. Big - Kotto famously played technician Dennis Parker in 1979 horror movie Alien, and appeared opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 action film The Running Man.

Kotto also enjoyed success on the small screen, starring as Al Giardello in the series Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993 to 1999.

In his final role before his death he voiced the character of Parker once again for the Alien: Isolation video game.

He is survived by his wife and six children.

Top photo: Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images