Oldest son, Fred Kotto, is a very successful officer in the San José Police Department.
He is the son of a Cameroonian crown prince.
Has a Bay Area hardcore punk band named after him.
Moved from Littleton, Colorado to Canada, because he felt it would be safer to live there. Two years after moving, he saw the news coverage on Columbine, and recognized some of the kids fleeing the school.
His father was a Cameroonian (African) Jew, and his mother, whose family was from Panama, converted to Judaism. In an interview, he said that being fully Black and Jewish gave other children even more reason to pick on him growing up in New York City. However, he remains a devout, practicing Jew.
Campaigned for Steve Forbes during his bid for the Republican nomination for the Presidency in the 2000 primaries.
Turned down the role of Lando Calrissian in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). He feared that Lando would be killed in the movie, and that he would be forever typecast. The role went to Billy Dee Williams.
Along with his wife, Tessie, they operate an artists retreat resort in Southern Leyte, Philippines called "The Running Man Institute", which was founded in 2001 and is focused on working with people in the entertainment industry to build their creativity, as well as to relax and read up about holistic health.
His father, Njoki Manga Bell, was the great-grandson of King Alexander Bell, who ruled the Douala region of Cameroon in the late 19th century, before the nation fell into the hands of Germany and, later, France and Britain. Fleeing the Germans, Manga Bell emigrated to Harlem in the 1920s and changed his name to Abraham Kotto (the surname is from a relative).
Yaphet means "beautiful" in Hebrew.
His parents divorced when he was 3.
Although he did not enjoy filming Midnight Run (1988), the character Agent Alonzo Mosley remains his favorite. He later played the same role for the film Witless Protection (2008).
Within a week of the divorce from his first wife Rita, he married Antoinette Pettyjohn.
Spends the majority of his free time living in the Philippines.
He made guest appearances on both of the longest running prime time dramas in US television history: Gunsmoke (1955) and Law & Order (1990).
Along with Richard Belzer, Kyle Secor, Clark Johnson and Sharon Ziman, he is one of only five actors to appear in both the first and last episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street (1993): Homicide: Life on the Street: Gone for Goode (1993) and Homicide: Life on the Street: Forgive Us Our Trespasses (1999).
With the death of Joseph Wiseman on October 19, 2009, he is the earliest surviving actor to have played a main Bond villain. He played Dr. Kananga (Mr. Big) in Live and Let Die (1973).
At age 33, he is the youngest actor to play a main Bond villain.
He was the first black actor to play a main Bond villain.
Currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland. [August 2012]