The American actor was known for his portrayal of the villain Dr Kanaga in Live and Let Die and for playing Dennis Parker in the 1979 science fiction film Alien.
Kotto’s wife, Tessie Sinahon, said in a Facebook post that Kotto died on Monday evening.
“You played a villain on some of your movies but for me you’re a real hero and to a lot of people also,” said Ms Sinahon.
“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. Rest in Peace Honey, I’m gonna miss you everyday, my bestfriend, my rock.”
Kotto did a six-year stint as Lieutenant Al Giardello in the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street and appeared alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film The Running Man.
Director and producer Ava DuVernay was among those to pay tribute to the “wonderful” actor on social media.
She tweeted: “Yaphet Kotto. My Mom’s favorite. He’s one of those actors who deserved more than the parts he got.
“But he took those parts and made them wonderful all the same. A star. Rest well, sir.”
Filmmaker Charles de Lauzirika said Kotto was a “terrific actor” who “could make every scene crackle”.
He added: “He was a force of nature in many roles, and certainly as Parker in ALIEN. But I also loved the more poker-faced side of him, such as Mosely in MIDNIGHT RUN, as well. A terrific actor. R.I.P.”
While Kotto was in production on Alien, a director approached him about appearing as Lando Calrissan in The Empire Strikes Back, but Kotto said he chose to turn down the Star Wars role.
He told IGN in a 2003 interview: “I was afraid that if I did another space film after having down Alien, then I’d be typed.”
Kotto added: “But once you get one of those big blockbuster hits, you better have some other big blockbuster hits to go with it too and be Harrison Ford, because if you don’t you have to get back down to earth because you can’t stay on that.”
The New York actor expressed regret at having turned down the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek who was played by Patrick Stewart.
“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,” said Kotto.
Kotto is survived by his wife and six children.