One of the most iconic Bond villains has died.
Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Richard Kiel, best known for his portrayal of James Bond’s supervillain Jaws, has passed away at the age of 74. The actor had been hospitalized after breaking his leg earlier in the week, but it is still unclear if that was related to his death.
Kiel spent almost 50 years in show business, carving out a niche few actors would even dream of. Kiel started out in acting at age 21, when he got a role in the NBC western Laramie. The Detroit-born Kiel would grow to be 7 foot, 1 1/2 inches tall. This helped him get some offbeat roles such as the schlocky 1962 B-movie Eegah, which got a bit of a cult boost after being featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Kiel played a giant caveman who falls for a California party girl he accidentally encounters in the desert. Kiel was also one of the top choices to play television’s The Incredible Hulk—a role that Lou Ferrigno would end up getting even after Kiel had filmed part of the pilot episode.
Kiel would continue to get roles in television shows like The Wild Wild West, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, and The Monkees and in films such as The Longest Yard and Silver Streak. But it was the steel-teethed megavillain Jaws that Kiel will forever be remembered. First appearing in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, he became so popular he was recast as the Bond villain again in 1979’s Moonraker. Although he enjoyed the role, the steel teeth were another matter. “They were nauseating,” he told The Guardian in 2009. “They were up in the roof of your mouth and gave you a gagging effect – you felt like you were going to be sick. It did add to the stoic part of my character – to keep from throwing up.”
The Washington Post is reporting that Kiel had numerous offers to reprise the Bond villain, but would do so only once; in 1999’s Inspector Gadget, with Matthew Broderick. Kiel would go on to do almost 80 films and television shows. including doing the voice of the deliciously evil Vladimir in Disney’s animated film Tangled, in which his character aspires to be a concert pianist. He sings in his trademark baritone voice: “I’d rather be called deadly for my killer showtune medley.”
His first marriage, to Faye Daniels, ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of nearly 40 years, Diane Rogers of Clovis; four children from his second marriage; a sister; and six grandchildren.
He wrote a memoir, “Making It Big in the Movies.”
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