The American actor Yaphet Kotto, best known for his roles in the James Bond adventure Live and Let Die and the sci-fi classic Alien, has died at the age of 81 in the Philippines.

The actor's passing was announced in a social media post by his wife, Thessa Sinahon.

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"I'm saddened and still in shocked [sic] of the passing of my husband Yaphet of 24 years," she wrote.

"You played a villain on some of your movies but for me you're a real hero and to a lot of people also," she continued.

"A good man, a good father, a good husband and a decent human being, very rare to find.

"One of the best actor [sic] in Hollywood a Legend. Rest in Peace Honey, I'm gonna miss you everyday [sic], my best friend, my rock.

"I love you and you will always be in my heart. Till [sic] we meet again."

New York-born Kotto had appeared in numerous TV series and on Broadway before his film career took off in the 1970s.

He became part of 007 history when he played villain Mr Big in 1973's Live and Let Die.

In 1979, he played chief engineer Parker in the iconic Alien.

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Kotto famously turned down the roles of Lando Calrissian in Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back and Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

"I wanted to get back down on Earth," he told IGN in 2003 of his decision to pass on The Empire Strikes Back role. "I was afraid that if I did another space film after having done Alien, then I'd be typed."

In an interview with The Big Issue in 2015, he said of his decision to turn down Star Trek: The Next Generation: "I should have done that, but I walked away. When you're making movies, you'd tend to say no to TV. It's like when you're in college and someone asks you to the high school dance. You say no."

As Lieutenant Al Giardello in Homicide: Life on the Street

On the small screen, Kotto did, however, sign up for the role of police lieutenant Al Giardello in the award-winning television series Homicide: Life on the Street, appearing as the character in 122 episodes from 1993 to 2000, a spin-off film and a Law & Order crossover.

Other key films in Kotto's career included Across 110th Street, Blue Collar, Brubaker, The Running Man, Midnight Run and the TV movie Raid on Entebbe, in which he was Emmy-nominated for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

Kotto claimed to be a distant relative of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II - referenced in the title of his 1997 autobiography, The Royalty.

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Married three times, Kotto is survived by his wife Thessa Sinahon and six children.

Here are some of the many tributes: