Richard Kiel, best known for his role as the villain Jaws in the James Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, has died at the age of 74. His death occurred on Wednesday, when he passed away at a California hospital following his admittance to the facility for breaking his leg. It is not yet known whether his death was in any way related to his injury.
One of Kiel’s family members broke the news of the man’s death, but gave no further information regarding the exact details surrounding it. They did, however, say that to their best knowledge he passed away in peace. No cause of death has yet been revealed, and it is unclear if any kind of investigation is being launched into Kiel’s passing. For now, however, there have been no reports of any such review.
The Michigan-born actor, who stood at an astounding height of seven feet two inches, made his acting debut in an episode of the NBC series Laramie, which was an American Western television series that ran from 1959-1963. The episode, entitled Street of Hate and airing in 1960, gave Kiel his first uncredited role, as one of the other character’s helpers. Next, he was cast as an assassin in an un-aired television pilot of Lee Falk’s The Phantom, in which his role was to murder the title character.
His breakout into film occurred in 1962, with the release of Eegah, a B-film centered around a giant caveman falling in love with a teenage girl. The film has built a legacy as one of the worst rated movies of all time, and earned a spot Michael Medved’s book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time. He began to build substantial name recognition for his role as Voltaire to Dr. Loveless in the first season of CBS’s hit series The Wild Wild West, which aired from 1965-1969. He was turned down for the role of the Incredible Hulk in the 1977 television series, as producers thought the actor contained too much body fat in order to deliver the role properly. Lou Ferrigno was ultimately cast as the Hulk, a decision that Kiel says did not upset him too greatly in the end.
Producers of the then-upcoming James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me took notice of Kiel in the William Shatner Western series Barbary Coast, and reportedly decided that he would be the best fit for the villain Jaws. This decision was reached mainly due to the man’s stature and ability to appear intimidating and frightening. Producers were reportedly so impressed with the actor’s work in the 1977 film that bringing him back to appear in 1979’s Moonraker was a no-brainer. His appearance in both films made him one of the only actors to ever appear in more than one Bond film, followed by his voice and likeness contributions to multiple Bond video games.
It remains to be seen exactly what caused the death of James Bond villain Richard Kiel. Appropriate authorities are reportedly investigating the matter as thoroughly as possible.
By Rebecca Grace