Yaphet Kotto
Yaphet Kotto REUTERS

Yaphet Kotto, the actor whose notable roles included playing a James Bond villain, a prominent character in science fiction film Alien, and starring in Homicide: Life on the Street, as well as acting in films alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert De Niro, has died at the age of 81.

The actor, who was Jewish, was also nominated for an Emmy for his portrayal of Ugandan despot Idi Amin in 1977's Raid on Entebbe.

Kotto passed away on Monday in the Philippines, his wife Sinahon Thessa posted on Facebook. “I'm saddened and still in shocked of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years," she wrote.

The actor was born in 1939 in New York City. His father, Avraham Kotto was an observant Jew who immigrated to the U.S. from Cameroon and who was fluent in Hebrew. His mother Gladys Marie converted to Judaism before marrying his father. According to the Manishtana blog, Kotto has stated that his father's family originally came from Israel, migrating to Egypt and then settling in Cameroon, and that they had lived in the African country for many generations.

"You played a villain in 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," Thessa wrote.

Besides acting, Kotto wrote an autobiography Royalty (1997), in which he said he was a distant relative of Queen Elizabeth II, and scripts for his TV series Homicide: Life on the Street.