Physically imposing, intense Yaphet Kotto was one of the few actors of his generation to succeed in breaking racial stereotypes in Hollywood. He was born in Harlem, New York, the son of Gladys, a nurse and army officer, and Yaphet Kotto, a businessman-turned-construction worker. His father was a Cameroonian immigrant, of royal ancestry (his great -grandfather had been a king in pre-colonial days), and his mother's family was from Antigua and Panama. Yaphet, whose first name means "beautiful" in Hebrew, was raised in the Jewish faith. After his parents divorced, he was brought up by his grandparents in the tough Bronx district of New York. He also had an aunt in showbiz who ran a dance academy. Among her alumni were Marlon Brando and James Dean. In fact, it was Brando's performance in On the Waterfront (1954) which inspired Kotto to go into acting. He began acting on stage in 1958 with little theatrical experience, making his debut in the title role of Othello, a role he eventually rep

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