Richard Kiel – Famous James Bond Actor Dies at Age 74

Richard KielBorn in 1939, Richard Kiel came into the homes of millions through his artistic work in television and movies. Although he played many roles, he was most famous for playing the steel-toothed Jaws in two James Bond movies, “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker”.

Sadly, Kiel, a gentle giant, passed away today in a Fresno, California hospital just three days shy of his 75th birthday. He had broken his leg one week prior but as of yet, no official word has been given as to whether that accident had any correlation with his death or not. Kiel is survived by his second wife, Diane Rogers whom he was married to for 40 years, as well as four children and nine grandchildren.

Prior to getting into acting, Kiel held down many different jobs to include being a salesman for cemetery plots and a bouncer for a nightclub. However, standing more than 7’ 1” tall and having a unique appearance, he was hard not to notice. Kiel made his acting debut in 1960 on a “Laramie” episode called Street of Hate but went on to star in several others shows such as “The Phantom”.

He was finally able to advance his career by starring in films during the 1960s although at that time, he performed in mostly B films. In addition to acting, Kiel co-wrote scripts and produced. One of his breakout roles was in an episode of ”The Wild, Wild West” in which he played Voltaire, a lethal and towering assistant to Dr. Miguelito Loveless. His next big role was on a 1961 episode of “The Rifleman”.

Kiel stayed away from acting from 1963 to 1965, working as a math instructor instead. However, he was drawn to acting and after a short break, returned to what he loved and did best. He went on to star in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, “Silver Streak”, and “The Incredible Hulk”. He was initially cast to star as the Hulk” but not being muscular enough and having problems wearing contact lenses because of a bad eye, he was replaced with Lou Ferrigno.

The big break for Kiel came when producers for the James Bond films saw him perform on “Barbary Coast” with William Shatner. Immediately, he was contacted and hired as Jaws. Richard Kiel will be missed for being a great actor and kind soul. He shared in his autobiography that he was afraid of heights and told everyone he was 7’2” because it was easier to remember.

Unfortunately, a car accident in 1992 caused Kiel to struggle with balance issues, which eventually forced him to rely on a cane although sometimes, he required the use of a scooter or wheelchair. He also told readers that he had been an alcoholic at one time but thanks to becoming a born-again Christian, he was able to move on from his dark past to enjoy a very happy and rewarding life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *