If you’re here, you’ve probably heard that Yaphet Kotto passed away. I don’t want to talk about his passing, but rather I want to talk about his legacy. What he left behind. This isn’t a usual blog post, and unlike my other blog posts, I won’t be leaving the typical links. Also, this isn’t carefully edited or mindfully crafted. It’s just me, writing what I think and feel.
I want this post to be a reflection of my own recollections of him through the eyes of a fan. I wasn’t a huge fan of him, but he was intrinsic to my youth, and that’s what I want to recall fondly.
Memories of happier, simpler days when he lit up our television screen in the mundane afternoons. My family gathered around our television set, while I was too young to think of it as anything other than normalcy.
If you were a fan of bond films, or such classics as Alien, you probably saw Yaphet Frederick Kotto on screen plenty of times over the years. Even if you don’t know who he was, you probably knew of his work in the film and television industry. You knew his face, if not his name.
For me growing up, that’s what it was like. So, I wanted to take a moment to recall his career, and my earliest recollections as a fan. My parents are older, so I grew up with shows from the sixties, seventies and eighties. Old re-runs of shows like Gun Smoke, Hawaii Five-O and Murder, She Wrote were series that were fairly common in my household growing up.
Yaphet Kotto made an appearance on all of these shows, and my earliest memories weren’t as a fan of him, but as a child playing in front of the television set. If you were also a 90’s kid with older parents like myself, you probably also grew up around his works, rather than with his works.
Still it was that experience in my early childhood that made him a household name for me. It wasn’t his larger roles, it was his smaller ones. That’s what made me want to watch things like Alien as an adult, and play video games like Alien: Isolation. It’s what made me look deeper into his entire filmography.
Knowing of him, made me want to see more about him and the roles he played. That alone, made me become a fan.
This man represents a time in my life when I was just a kid. When his works were too mature for a young child like myself to fully understand. His voice wafting across the screen during lazy summertime naps, and while rolling dice for board games that we’d play to whittle the hours away.
Yaphet Kotto is just one of many actors like this for me. A face, a name and a voice, that occasionally warmed my home thanks to his glow on the television. Seeing that he passed away, and everyone sharing their fond memories over twitter on his memory page made me want to do the same, but I just can’t partake.
I wish I could say I was a huge fan of his works, but for me that’s not why this hits so hard. For me, it’s another loss of my youth. A reminder that times are swiftly changing. My younger cousins will never get to have the upbringing that I did. The days of dial-up internet meant that I wasn’t on there all the time. The television was the central location in our home. Yaphet Kotto and his many roles became part of that, and for me, that is what I will always remember.
I offer my sincerest condolences to his family and friends. To his likely sprawling fan base, may you forever love his works and ambitions. He has left these behind as a gift for us. So may we enjoy them to the fullest. Finally, I wish him a peaceful rest wherever his soul may travel…