Richard Kiel, the 7-foot-2-inch tall actor, best known for his performance as the steel-toothed villain “Jaws” in two James Bond films, has died at the age of 74.
Kelley Sanchez, director of communications at Saint Agnes Medical Center, confirmed Wednesday that Kiel was a patient at the hospital and had died. Kiel's agent, Steven Stevens, also confirmed his death. Both declined to provide further details, according to a report from the Associated Press. Kiel had reportedly broken his leg earlier in the week, though it is unclear if this contributed to his death in any way.
Kiel worked as a nightclub bouncer and a cemetery plot salesman, according to the IMDB, before making his acting debut on the western TV show “Laramie”. He went on to appear in 45 feature films and numerous television programs.
Kiel's IMDB biography describes him as an “actor who has cornered the market on playing giants, intimidating henchman, bayou swamp monsters and steel toothed villains.” Kiel was the original choice to play The Incredible Hulk in the 1970s television series of the same name, and filmed the show's pilot, before reportedly being replaced with actor Lou Ferrigno, as producers wanted a more muscular actor for the part.
But it was his role as “Jaws” in the James Bond films “The Spy Who Loved Me,” and “Moonraker,” which turned Kiel into a cinematic icon. The villain, equipped with steel teeth capable of biting through cables, was an imposing physical presence, who nonetheless managed to lose out to Roger Moore's rather more diminutive Bond in their confrontations. Kiel's image and voice went on to appear in a number of James Bond video games.
Kiel’s terrifying character was so popular with movie audiences who saw “The Spy Who Loved Me” that the character was made more sympathetic in follow-up “Moonraker,” according to Variety.
Younger cinephiles may be more familiar with Kiel from his brief appearance as Mr. Larson in the 1996 Adam Sandler comedy “Happy Gilmore,” in which he is accidentally shot in the head with a nail gun by Sandler's character.
Kiel's massive stature and was the result of a acromegaly, a syndrome that results in the pituitary gland producing excess growth hormone.