Richard Kiel has died. The 7-foot-2-inch actor, who is most famous for playing the metal-mouthed villain Jaws in the James Bond films, “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker” passed away this afternoon. He was 74.
Kiel had an extensive career in Hollywood, which spanned over 50 years. Before breaking into television and film, Kiel was a nightclub bouncer and cemetery plot salesman. He started in television with minor roles on Thriller and The Rifleman. He is remembered as the alien Kanamit in The Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man.” He also portrayed a Solarite in the classic 1961 science fiction B-movie “The Phantom Planet.”
Kiel’s towering frame landed him many guest roles on various sitcoms and movies throughout the 60’s and 70’s including parts playing a pair of supernatural creatures on two different episodes of Darren McGavin’s Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
He was offered the role of Darth Vader in “Star Wars,” but chose to play a role that would define his career as the villain, Jaws, in 1977’s “The Spy Who Loved Me.” He reprised his character in 1979’s “Moonraker.” By then, the metal-toothed assassin had found true love and changed sides by helping 007 save the Earth.
In 1977, Kiel was cast as the Incredible Hulk, but after 2 days of filming it was decided that he was not “bulky” enough for the role. He was paid for the two movies of the week and replaced by bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno. He was happy this happened because he only had sight in one eye and the full contact lenses were bothering him.
In 1992, he was in a serious automobile accident that affected his auto-balance, and had to walk using a walking stick or ride a battery-powered scooter around if he had to go very far. In the 1996 Adam Sandler film, “Happy Gilmore,” he is never seen walking and almost all of his scenes are from the waist up. There are only two full body scenes and both times he is leaning on something. The first is a post, the second is a man.
In 2002, Kiel penned his informative autobiography entitled “Making it BIG in the movies.” He most recently voiced the character of Vlad in Disney’s 2010 CGI film “Tangled.”
According to TMZ, Kiel was hospitalized last week after he broke his leg. Kelley Sanchez, director of communications at St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno told the Associated Press that Kiel was a patient at the hospital and had died, but she declined to provide any further details.
Kiel is survived by his wife Diane and four children.
*As a side note, Richard Kiel was a guest at one of Nuke the Fridge’s sponsored conventions. He was a friendly and courteous man who had fans lined up for autographs at his table. He will be sorely missed. R.I.P. Big Guy!
Sources: TMZ, IMDb