Famed character actor Richard Kiel has passed away at 74 years of age. The actor was known for playing a variety of notorious villains, most notably Jaws in the James Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.
The Detroit-born Kiel, who grew to be 7 feet 1.5 inches, worked various odd jobs, including cemetery plot salesman and nightclub bouncer, before making his television debut at age 21 in the NBC Western Laramie. His roles were always at least partially defined by his extraordinary physicality, including 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 cave man who falls for a California party girl he accidentally encounters in the desert. Kiel was also one of the choices to play The Incredible Hulk—a role that would end up going to Lou Ferrigno after the producers decided they needed someone more muscular.
But, Kiel would ultimately be defined by his role as Jaws, the metal-mouthed James Bond villain of the Roger Moore-era who first appeared in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me and was apparently so popular that they had him reprise his role in 1979’s Moonraker. Those famous teeth caused Kiel immense discomfort, though. “They were nauseating,” he told The Guardian in an interview 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.”